Way back in 1992 in the dusty eastern Oregon border town of Ontario, we stumbled upon Calvary Chapel. We loved the church and found it refreshing that the key element was the Bible and teaching through it verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book. Over the years we have attended or visited many Calvary Chapels. Now I pastor a Calvary Chapel and our family is very involved in the church, with Brenton the assistant pastor and other Sabos at various times leading worship, teaching in children's ministry, leading Bible studies and serving in other capacities.
One of the primary distinctives of Calvary Chapel is its emphasis on the Bible. We hold the Bible in high regard and consider it required reading around the Sabo house. Although we don't "make" any of our kids read the Bible daily, I know that those of the reading age take the time pretty much daily to read it. I was talking to Brenton about this earlier tonight to get his thoughts on why it's important for youth to read the Bible and what it teaches them. Here's a few thoughts.
1) Reading the Bible daily teaches discipline. The Christian life is one of discipline. Prayer, Bible reading, worship and meditating on God's word are all disciplines that separate the casual believer from one who is fervently following Jesus. It blesses me so much to see my children, even as young as elementary school age, reading the Bible daily right before bed, or in the morning when they first get up. No one asks them to do it, but they see examples set by their parents and older siblings. Being in the Word from a young age will mature them beyond their years and they will learn a discipline that is a vital part of their faith. The maturity in faith that comes from reading and knowing the Bible will extend to other areas of their lives and you will see them own their faith in Jesus from a young age.
2) Reading the Bible daily makes God's Word come alive. More than simply knowing the stories and characters of the Bible, devotional reading helps youth understand how God's Word is alive and applies to their life today. They can see how God worked through history as part of His plan to bless and save humanity through His Son and they can translate that to God working in their own lives. If they see God working in their lives, they believe He has a purpose for their lives and will be able to navigate the inevitable trials and tribulations of life because they are tethered to Jesus. A key component of having God's Word be alive and dynamic is that the Bible comes into play as a key component to making decisions. When youth learn to make decisions based on truths from the Bible they read and can apply to their lives, they are light years ahead of most adults I know -- even those in the church who aren't equipped to make good decisions because they rarely, if ever, open a Bible.
3) Reading the Bible daily serves as a counter-balance to the world. Kids these days are buffeted by an extraordinary amount of worldly enticements designed to influence their behavior. Media, advertising, technology, even the lure of sports and other passions, can all pull kids away from their walk with Jesus. Reading the Bible serves as the anchor for kids, linking them firmly and steadfastly to their Savior, Jesus Christ. One of my sons was telling a story about a friend of his in college whose life has seen remarkable maturity in faith. The difference? Even though he was a churchgoing lad and participated in his youth group at his church, he said he didn't really care to read the Bible. Since heading off to college, he started getting into God's Word and it's a key component to his new found Christian maturity.
No doubt I can come up with a whole host of other things that daily Bible reading teaches our kids. But one last thought: Name something else that would be a better way for your child to spend his or her time.