I remember the day I realized I was doing it all wrong.
The church I attended as a child was laser-focused on knowing the Bible. Which means I grew up losing countless rounds of Bible Trivia, memorizing lists of prophets, and sitting in rooms wallpapered with acres of Bible-time maps.
Our church put the “school” in Sunday school … but not in a good way.
I vowed if I was ever a Sunday school teacher, I’d jazz things up. Make it interesting. Nix the “sword drills.” Torpedo the pop quizzes. And the first thing I’d toss overboard would be everyone looking up passages so we could read them aloud in unison.
Because that never worked. Ever. Some kids had King James Bibles, some had other translations, and a few tried repeating passages from memory.
It was a hopeless muddle.
Scripture Connection is Important for Our Kids
Fast forward to a few years ago and there I stood: a Sunday school teacher with decades of experience using a snazzy new curriculum that sent video clips of Bible passages rolling across a screen.
I loved it. Every kid could see the same version of the passage. We didn’t have to pause as kids tried to remember if Ephesians was in the Old or New Testament. The process was smooth, easy, and … it suddenly dawned on me … completely flawed.
Because the kids had no way of knowing if those wise words on the screen were God’s words, my words, or something Ben Franklin cooked up.
And some weeks I made things even worse. Rather than me reading the passages, I copied them and handed them out to kids to read aloud when I gave them the nod.
I’d set the stage for a passage and then a kid would leap to her feet and read it to the group. A little later in the lesson another kid would do the same. The crowd never quite knew who’d be hopping up next.
But I never opened a Bible and read from it. There was zero evidence those quotes were straight from God’s inspired Word, no visual cue kids should give the passages the weight they deserved.
I’d changed things, all right—but not for the better.
Authority of God’s Word
There’s authority in God’s Word and, like you, I want my kids to trust the Bible as foundational truth for their lives. To see that through it they can discover so much of what God wants them to know about Himself, this world, and about themselves.
So it’s essential that Scripture steers my lessons and that kids know it’s Scripture they’re hearing.
When we connect Scripture to our lessons, it grounds kids in truth that works its way from their heads to their hearts. In the same way the Holy Spirit uses God’s Word to shape us, the Spirit uses it to shape our kids, too.
Yes, I still send passages scrolling across the screen on Sunday mornings. And I still copy passages from a kid-friendly version of the Bible for kids to read aloud. But I never let those happen without making sure kids know they’re hearing Scripture.
And they see me read aloud from my Bible. Every lesson. Without fail.
Fortunately, there are ways to connect Scripture to our Sunday school lessons—and to impress upon kids the importance of the Bible.
Build some or all of the following into your teaching and you’ll give the kids you love a healthy respect for Scripture. And you’ll reassure them your lesson is less about what you think and more about what God says.
Scripture Connection: Teach lessons tightly tethered to God’s Word.
Your Wonder Ink lessons are a good example. From choosing topics to crafting lesson components, our friends at Wonder Ink work with their Bibles open. Every lesson is developed around a central Bible passage and truth, and each lesson element reinforces one or both of those.
As you teach you have opportunities to circle back to the Scripture passage often—so take them.
Now and again have kids stand as you read Scripture.
The physical act of standing will help them pay attention. And that they’re briefly at attention signals that what’s read is important. Use this technique sparingly so when you do use it, it’s meaningful.
Occasionally have kids find passages in Bibles
Young children are concrete thinkers so if you want them to see that your Bible story is in the Bible, help them see it in the Bible. We have a stack of Bibles from Ye Olde Before-Screen-Scrolls Days, so now and then I team up older with younger kids and have them physically find passages.
But no winner-take-all-and-everyone-else-is-a-loser “sword drills”—not on my watch.
Let kids see you read from the Bible itself.
You’re confirming that what you’re teaching isn’t something you dreamed up; it’s Scripture.
Here’s a tip: If you don’t happen to use the same version as what will appear on the screen, tape the screen version of the passage into the appropriate place in your Bible and read that aloud. It minimizes confusion.
Consider yourself deputized to make absolutely, positively, 100% sure your kids understand stories you share from the Bible are real.
When many kids hear the word “story” they automatically file whatever follows alongside Pinocchio, Rumpelstiltskin, and the Avengers. Stories are fiction, told to entertain. Stories are for fun, not shaping your life.
So when you transition to sharing a narrative from the Bible, introduce what’s coming with, “And here’s a true story from God’s Word,” or “And here’s a story from the Bible—and it really happened.”
It’s quick confirmation you’re speaking truth, not fiction. It’s creating a new category of “story” in their thinking: descriptions of actual events that shine a light on who God is, what God has done, and how He values His creations.
When you connect your kids to Scripture you’ll help them see themselves as God sees them: infinitely valuable, desperately loved, and entirely welcome.
And it just doesn’t get much better than that.