Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Children & the Story of the Bible

One of the super fun things I get to do every night is read to Asher. Even though he isn't born yet, we have learned that he started hearing our voices months ago and can come to recognize them in time. Something else Stacy and I learned was that if we read him the same story over and over, he will actually respond to it more out of the womb.

So I began reading him the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I read him one, short, vignette each night. Now you might be saying to yourself, "that's not reading the same story over and over." Ahhh, but it is. I haven't looked at any other children's bibles (so if you have recommendations, I'm open), but what I love about the Jesus Storybook Bible is that it tells the one grand story of God through various stories we see in the Bible. Jones puts it best in the tagline under the title, "Every story whispers his name." Each of the stories in Scripture in some way bring out the major point of the big story of Scripture, God redeeming the whole world through Jesus Christ. The plot line, the narrative, the trajectory is always pointing to the gospel.

I just learned that Phil Vischer, the creator of the ever-popular Veggie Tales (which I admittedly never watched), has created something far better than what he accomplished with those stories. He has created a DVD series called What's in the Bible?, which is aimed at teaching children the entire story arc of the Bible rooted in the gospel. Matt Smethhurst over at The Gospel Coalition chatted with Vischer about the difference between the moralism of Veggie Tales and the difference with What's in the Bible? Vischer says,
I launched Bob and Larry back in 1993, and personally oversaw each video release and product until 2003, when a lawsuit forced the company into bankruptcy and out of my hands. God turned what seemed like a tremendous loss into a huge blessing, as I was given time and space to get off the VeggieTales "treadmill" and just focus on him. As my relationship with God grew deeper and my love of the Bible increased, a profound thought hit me: Had I just spent 10 years trying to get kids to behave "Christianly" without actually teaching them Christianity?
VeggieTales was (and is) a great format for retelling an individual Bible story or presenting a Christian value, but it wasn't such a good format for explaining the entire arc of Scripture or unpacking tricky concepts like redemption or sanctification. I found myself with a blank piece of paper and all the time in the world. So I decided it was time to go beyond teaching biblical values to actually teaching the Bible.
The big idea is the difference between, in his words, "teaching stories in the bible" and "teaching the story of the bible." This difference might seem subtle, but it's profound. It can be the difference between moralism/law and freedom/grace. The isolated stories may teach values, but if they aren't first rooted in the gospel of Jesus, they are Jesus-less values that can be mimicked by anyone in the world. Additionally, isolated stories often make us the hero: "Be awesome by having a heart like David" or something like that. Instead, the big story of the bible shows that David needed Jesus and waited for a "son" who would be greater than him (2 Sam 7). That is why I like the Jesus Storybook Bible and what I believe is something awesome coming out with What's in the Bible? It is massively important both for parents and their children. Why?

Because we are taught that we aren't the center of the story. Jesus is. And that changes everything.

By His Grace.


  1. Hit by this sentence from your post- "The isolated stories may teach values, but if they aren't first rooted in the gospel of Jesus, they are Jesus-less values that can be mimicked by anyone in the world." SO true. I'm excited to check out Vischer's new approach, and looking forward to tonight's reading of the Storybook Bible :)

  2. Good post. Did you see Rhett and Link at the beginning of that video promo on What's in the Bible?

  3. @Stacy: Thanks love! I truly appreciate your support and encouragement.

  4. @Jimmy: I didn't. I didn't watch the promo to be honest. I took the summary of what Vischer said and was pumped about it. Haven't investigated more, but want to consider the DVDs for the boy...potentially. Something that comes up for me is the overall power and impact of video media as a whole. We'll see...

  5. I was researching this morning something on google and automatically hit the "video" tab after my search because I didn't want to read. NOTE: I was on my iphone and it's harder to read on that