Information is important – it can help children make responsible choices. Entertainment is engaging – it helps the story to come alive. But we cannot be satisfied with these outcomes when the Bible is so clearly about transformation. This Bible is ‘…God’s story and the story of our ancestors in the faith, which we want our children to enter into as their story, on God’s side’. It is the place where children encounter God, and where he invites them to join their lives to his life and to partner with him in changing their world. The keys to engaging this story are imagination and emotion, relevance, response and action.
This is an essay presented as part of Edinburgh 2010, and is available in the Bible in Mission PDF download.
The author argues that we close down the Bible for children when: we sanitise it, we trivialise it, we sentimentalise it, we reduce it to a book of ‘stories with a moral’, we treat it as a book of rules, we treat it as an owner’s manual of detailed instructions, we treat it as a textbook of information to be remembered, and when we treat it as a book of stories about flawless heroes.
The Bible is God’s story and it is far more than information, rules, entertainment and selected – often disconnected – stories. As Ivy Beckwith states: ‘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…deprive them of the spiritual story of God.’ And in this story of God, children will find more than they expected. They will encounter God himself. They will discover that his story includes theirs and that he will accompany them as they write their own story in the world in which they live.