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Cultivating a Gospel-Inspired Life in the Home through Family Bible Study and Worship



Cultivating a Gospel-Inspired Life in the Home through Family Bible Study and Worship


By Anne Butler


As Christian parents, we long to experience with our loved ones the revealing of God’s truths through His Spirit and Word, yet often, we are immobilized by inexperience or lack of training in family Bible study. My husband and I faced this challenge as we endeavored to cultivate a lifestyle of discipleship in our home.


Though we have been raising and home-educating our children for the past 30-plus years, we started this parenting journey with zero experience in family discipleship. Neither of us personally read the Bible until well into our college years when God called us to Himself. As young parents, we sought help sharing God’s truth and beauty with our children. As our family eventually came to include preteens and teenagers—able to think, discuss, and apply the Scriptures more deeply—and as we grew into a full house of nine children, this role became even more daunting.


We noticed a trend with parents of teenagers. Many began backing away from faith-forming involvement with their maturing youth. Parents felt inexperienced because family Bible study was not modeled in their own childhood homes. They often relinquished the task of spiritual development of their youth to church youth leaders. We found those leaders to be supportive, but we also wanted to take our parental role as the primary spiritual educators of our children seriously. We saw clearly in Scripture from places like Proverbs 1, Deuteronomy 6, and Psalm 78 that this was a call from God on our lives as parents. Besides, we thoroughly enjoyed conversations about spiritual truths with our children.


If your situation is one of insecurity or inexperience, the following paragraphs describe an uncomplicated model of discussing God’s Word with simple steps we have incorporated into our family’s rhythms. Much of what I share on the topic of education and faith formation I gleaned from British educational philosopher Charlotte Mason, so you may recognize her influence throughout these steps.


1. Pray: If it is the Holy Spirit’s role to reveal truth, awaken faith, bring repentance, and capture hearts with God’s goodness, we want to eagerly and prayerfully invite His presence.


2. Review or Overview: When continuing any study, spend a moment at the beginning of your time remembering the previous context and learning you’ve gained so far in your study. When beginning a new book of the Bible, read an overview paragraph together to get your bearings and the book’s general message.


3. Read: Take turns reading a passage or chapter aloud, splitting the text among reading participants. I recommend parents have a trusted Study Bible, with everyone reading from the same translation. Study Bibles are invaluable for providing book overviews, answering difficult text questions, exploring interesting related information, and supplying relevant maps. Our family keeps a small basket filled with Bibles near where we gather for easy reach. For children under age 10, we also make available blank paper, colored pencils, and coloring pages of biblical scenes. This keeps young hands occupied but doesn’t preclude participation.


4. Narrate: Next, take time for one or two participants to share in their own words some ideas from the reading they understood, noticed, or recalled. This takes a few minutes of concentration, yet it is valuable for clarifying and solidifying the ideas and details of the passage. Narrating reveals to you as a parent what sparked their attention. Younger families may rely more heavily on this step than the next, working to fully understand the main messages, ideas, themes, and events of each passage.


5. Questions and Discussion: It is important not to fear but to welcome and prioritize questions that arise organically. Questioning minds are engaged minds. Parents should also have several thoughtful, open-ended questions ready for this portion. At the same time, I highly caution against using prepared questions as a tool to quiz and evaluate what your children may have missed from the reading. We want our children’s hearts to be open, eager, and curious with wonder toward God, not anxious to answer your questions correctly.

Your goal is to find the sweet spot where discussions are long enough to be meaningful yet not so long to lose your children’s attention. Guard yourself against talking too much, lecturing, or moralizing; instead, let the Holy Spirit apply the Word to your children’s hearts. He is sufficient, and our clumsy moralizing and lecturing (especially during a family Bible study) often hinder the heart change we desire. Respect your youth and their spiritual aptitudes, remembering we are instructed to become like children.


6. Pray: As you wind down the discussion, move to sharing time together in prayer. Typically, parents do the bulk of the praying in our homes, so this is a great time to invite our children into the practice of prayer.


7. Sing: Finally, along with our Bibles, we keep a collection of familiar choruses, song sheets, and hymnals nearby. Singing is a beautiful way to conclude on a worshipful, Godward note.


Parents must seek to faithfully fulfill this call to share the gospel with their children, and we must openly recognize that though we can pray, gather, and share the Bible with our children, only God can ultimately capture their hearts. God has His role, and we have ours. The steps I shared are just one way to obey this calling. We have had both successes and heartbreaks in parenting, and I cannot share a foolproof list of steps to guarantee your children’s salvation. Yet, parents do have an important role to play in faith formation, remembering and trusting that God is eager to support this transfer of faith to the next generation in His timing and (in part) through our faith-filled prayers and efforts. After all, He is the one calling us to this role (Deut. 6:4-9).


We cannot be the Holy Spirit, but our primary role is to prayerfully depend on and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, sharing from our own genuine faith and love. We must attend to the atmosphere of our home, ensuring it is a safe and enjoyable space for learning and discussion and not harsh, critical, distracted, or filled with unpleasantness. We must build strong, healthy relationships with our children outside of our Bible studies so our voices and input are well received. At the same time, we work to form the habit of prayerfully reading and discussing the Scriptures together, and we seek to wisely choose the most appropriate, truth-filled, engaging, life-giving resources available to assist us.


Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). Abiding in God’s Word is true discipleship. Won’t you join me in cultivating a gospel-inspired discipleship life in your home by intentionally creating time and space for your family to abide in God’s Word together?



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Anne Butler is a speaker and author of Feast Of Inquiry: Discussion Questions to Serve Our Souls From Every New Testament Chapter. She has over three decades of experience in parenting and home education. You can find more of Anne’s writing at tablelearningresources.com, where she shares articles emphasizing family discipleship, spiritual growth, and home education.


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