In her excellent book on children’s ministry, Ivy Beckwith writes about some of the mistakes we make in teaching the Bible to kids:
When we use the Bible with children simply to teach doctrinal tenets, moral absolutes, tips for better living, or stories of heroes to be emulated, we stunt the spiritual formation of our children and deprive them of the valuable, spiritual story of God. When we only distill the Bible into practical applications and little life lessons, we fail to teach children how to use the Bible as a means of understanding God’s purposes in the world. We fail to give them the ability to understand their own stories in light of God’s story. When we tell them what the Bible says or what to believe about what a particular Bible passage says, we rob them of the ability to experience the text themselves and pull out its meaning in their own context of their world.
In teaching kids the Bible, she says, “we cannot forget that the Bible is primarily about God and God incarnate, Jesus, and God’s plan for the redemption of creation.” We need material that doesn’t use the Bible to “teach children moral lessons.” Instead, “We need the Bible to introduce children to God, God’s story, and God’s ways.”
That’s why I was excited to discover Charles F. Boyd’s book, What God Has Always Wanted: The Bible’s Big Idea from Genesis through Revelation. It answers the question, “What’s the Bible about anyway?” in simple and accurate language, and introduces the story of Scripture to children.
Boyd says, “I believe we do a good job teaching children Bible stories, but we haven’t done as good a job of teaching the Bible’s story. By setting the gospel in the overall storyline of the Bible, I believe children can better see how Jesus and His friendship is truly what ties the Bible’s story together from start to finish.”
The book is clearly presented and well illustrated. In just a few pages, Boyd clearly presents the story of Scripture from creation and fall to Jesus and the new creation. It invites children to become participants in the story by becoming friends with God. Boyd also includes a helpful glossary to help adults answer questions that kids might raise as they read the book together.
Here’s the real genius of the book: it’s not just a children’s book, it is a “parenting book disguised as a children’s book.” It equips parents and teachers to share the gospel with kids in a way that they will understand.
There are lots of entertaining books, movies, and curriculum for kids. What God Has Always Wanted moves beyond the normal approach of telling individual stories and teaching moral lessons, and tells God’s story. This is a very encouraging book for kids, and I highly recommend it for churches, parents, teachers, and grandparents. I hope we’ll see more resources just like it.