“The B-I-B-L-E,” goes the old Sunday school hit, “yes, that’s the book for me!” Generations of young Christians have proclaimed their readiness to “stand alone on the Word of God”—beginning their discovery of the Scriptures, which St. Augustine called “our letters from home.”
The place of the Bible remains central for engaged Christian families today and, as we’ll see, regular Bible engagement carries a host of benefits for the spiritual lives of growing kids. But not all parents are sure how to bring the Bible into their family’s daily life. They’re looking for help and reliable resources from their church community.
Benefits of Bible Engagement
Engaged Christian parents actively involve their children in faith-developing activities, and most are doing a thorough job of it. In fact, eight in 10 report their child engages with the Bible at least weekly (81%). These are “Bible-engaged” families and children. And this single discipline is connected to a host of spiritual benefits. Bible-engaged kids are more likely to engage in a wide spectrum of other spiritual-formation activities. Overall, the data paints a picture of growth guided by God’s Word. (See the infographic below.)
Of course, any spiritual picture is bigger than Bible engagement alone. Even children who don’t engage with the Bible on at least a weekly basis interact with other spiritual formation resources, including church and extracurricular experiences. However, only two in five parents say they are very satisfied thus far with the spiritual development of their less Bible-engaged child (40% vs. 60% parents of Bible-engaged children). In other words, most parents whose children are not regularly engaging with the Bible are aware something is missing from their child’s spiritual formation.
Two-thirds of Bible-engaged children attend church every week (66%)—significantly more than less Bible-engaged kids (41% weekly). Add to that two-thirds the 27 percent of Bible-engaged children who have missed only one Sunday in the past month, and a strong link emerges between habits of Bible engagement and of church involvement.
Younger parents are significantly more likely than older parents to report weekly engagement; the consistency across children’s ages is notably absent when Bible-engaged kids are sorted by their parents’ age. Parents over 50 are least likely to report their child is engaging the Bible weekly (67%), and each younger age bracket increases until we see nine out of 10 parents ages 24 to 34 with Bible-engaged kids. Again, younger parents are likelier to have younger children—so they are more apt to engage the Bible alongside their young ones. Older parents may need a combination of resources and encouragement from church leaders to ensure their life stage (or their older child’s) isn’t leading to passivity when it comes to leading their family to interact with the Bible.
Bible-engaged children are deeply involved in their local church. Nearly six in 10 engage in activities other than weekly worship (58% vs. 27%). They are also more likely to participate in Bible studies (37% vs. 9%) and youth group programs (52% vs. 31%).
Overall, children who engage with the Bible at least weekly are more likely to engage with spiritual activities as a family in every way. Parents who care about getting their kids into God’s Word seem to foster a variety of ways for their family to take the faith journey together. Volunteerism, spiritual conversations, Bible discussion, church attendance, prayer and more are experienced at higher levels in families where the Bible is read regularly.
Eight out of 10 parents of Bible-engaged kids have at least one child in the household who has made a profession of faith in Jesus, compared to 57 percent whose children interact less with the Scriptures.
Children who engage the Bible weekly are less likely to also be media-engaged kids. (This doesn’t necessarily mean that opening the Scriptures reduces screen time—only that there is some correlation between these two factors.) Just 43 percent of Bible-engaged children are also media-engaged, compared to nearly six in 10 less Bible-engaged kids (57%).
In what ways are Bible-engaged families interacting with the Scriptures? In a variety of ways, but most often with a book— right along with families who engage the Bible less often. Fewer than half use other media— so far.