At a recent conference, Jim Wideman, one of the pioneers of children's ministry, made this profound statement, "I wish I hadn't spent so many years teaching kids to love Jesus. I wish I would've taught them to love the Word, because if they love the Word, they will automatically love Jesus."
As Christian parents and leaders, we yearn to see our sons and daughters not only read the Bible but fall in love with God’s Holy Word. We know that this is how their knowledge and understanding of God will grow. But how do we help our reluctant readers develop this important spiritual discipline?
Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula that will turn a child into a Bible-lover, but there are numerous things we can do to help. Hosting the 2018 EAT THIS BOOK challenge is one of those things.
We've created the Eat This Book challenge in response to so many parents telling us how their children showed no interest in the Bible. They knew (sometimes through painful experience) that nagging and bribing wouldn't work, but they had no idea how to ignite in their children's hearts a genuine and lasting love for the Bible.
As a children's pastor I wanted to give them a tool, or better yet, a process that would teach children how to enjoy the Bible and the God who inspired it. I also wanted to make sure that the parents were a part of this exciting process, and that they were falling in love with the Bible as a family. (See exactly what we came up with HERE.)
After we launched the Eat This Book challenge in our church, parents started telling us about some exciting changes they saw in their children.
Kids were reading the Bible without being prompted.
Kids had their own "quiet spots" for their times with God.
Kids loved doing the hands-on extra-challenges, and they even loved memorizing large portions of Scriptures.
Kids had been caught choosing to read the Bible over their chapter book for quiet reading.
A totally unexpected outcome was that some parents told us that they found themselves reading the Bible more because of their children's renewed love for God's Word.
As the parents were telling us about the impact the Eat This Book challenge had on their families, other churches started asking us to help them host this challenge in their congregations. To which we said, Yes! Totally unexpectedly, the challenge that we designed for families in a small Pennsylvania town ended up in other churches, not only in the US, but also in Japan, Australia, Jamaica, New Zealand and the UK.
This gave us a bold idea—to launch a nationwide Eat This Book campaign where we would equip other churches with all the resources we've created and the experience we've gained, and together capture the hearts of children and families with the love for God's Holy Word.
With the 2019 Eat This Book campaign we want to fight the apathy and disinterest towards the Bible that is prominent in so many families. We want to invite parents and the children on a 5-month long expedition that will move them from a have to attitude towards the Bible to a get to attitude, where they will start seeing the Bible as a pathway to true intimacy with God. We also want to make sure that this journey is a fun one.
If you would like to join the 2019 Eat This Book campaign and lead the families in your church into a love relationship with the Scriptures, we have created this starter kit to help you have maximum impact without needing to spend a lot of extra time. You'll have all the tools and a clear timeline that will make hosting this challenge completely stress-free.
I am convinced that there's no greater gift we can pass to the new generation than the gift of loving, knowing and understanding the Bible. Placing God's Word in the heart and mind of a child is an investment in the future kingdom of God that will pay hundredfold, maybe thousandfold in future returns.
Let's do what we can to hear our sons and daughters echo David's words, "I delight in your commands because I love them. I love your commands more than gold, more than pure gold." (Ps. 119)