So often we get given little snippets of scripture. This can be true in our daily devotionals, church sermons and is especially true in what gets given to young people - bite size, manageable chunks and, of course, this makes sense to a point.
What does not make so much sense is when we're missing out on the context, the zoomed out view, of the big story of scripture. The big story (or meta-narrative if we're being posh) of scripture is what best helps us form our worldview. This is our understanding of how everything fits together - the universe, our place within it, the planet, the existence of evil, how good triumphs over evil and of course God himself. When we're not well versed in this big story, our understanding of the smaller stories that make up the whole are often lacking depth or even missing the point all together. It is 'christian' beliefs that are not grounded in the biblical worldview that, seemingly, don't make sense to those walking away from Jesus in their teen years, when their critical thinking steps up a notch.
It may seem like a mammoth task, but grounding our young people in a biblical worldview needn't be daunting - here are a few ideas that you can try out and even weave in to your rhythm of life.
Top Tips for Getting to Grips with the Big Story of the Bible
1. Read your bibles! This sounds obvious but is always worth reiterating. What we spend time doing shows what we value. Let your children see that the bible is important in your life!
2. Gossip bible stories in your house, around the dinner table, on long journeys and on short journeys. Ask questions about what you're reading to each other (what does this say about God? What does it say about humanity? Is there anything you don't understand? What needs to change in my life from reading this? Who are you going to tell about this?). Spend time asking Holy Spirit to reveal things to you about what you are reading.
3. Create a bible timeline - beginning to end - creation to new heaven and new earth. Fill in bits you already know, find new bits to add, come back over time and add as you discover. Use words, pictures, diagrams. Stand back every so often and look at themes that pop up again and again throughout the ages. Once you've run out of room, start again and do things in a different order or identify new themes - this never gets old, I've done it over 10 times and each time I learn something new and Holy Spirit reveals more amazing things. The great thing is that it can be simple, complex and both together and is accessible to all ages. It is a lot of fun to get a few families together and create a good 5 metre timeline - lining paper or surplus wallpaper is good investment here - do a bit, roll it up, unroll it again for your next session!
4. Create an interactive bible overview with actors of all ages playing different parts - here's an example overview template of what we did at Creation Fest 2019 (see the pictures and video above).
5. Check out The Bible Project - great videos looking at some of the big themes of scripture as well as overviews of sections of scripture and individual books. These are trustworthy and incredibly high quality!
6. Bible journaling - as you read your bibles take time to write down what you notice, keep track of what God is revealing to you. Come back to what you have written as you are reading new parts of scripture. Look out for recurring themes, ideas, words, symbols and even characters. Think of this like a scrap book, stick things in, colour, doodle and help the words on the page come alive.
7. Identify a list of key verses that sketch out some key moments in the big picture of the bible. Give each scripture a title that is memorable. You can print off the titles and scriptures and post them around your house, on the ceiling above your bed. Use these as memory verses which you learn over the course of a few weeks or months. Once you have these nailed choose another section of key scriptures that give you a big picture overview - top tip: sometimes you can get creative and get the big picture by going non chronological or even taking snippets from one book - try doing this with Romans! Here's is a great example which you can use straight away or use as inspiration.
8. Get a good audio bible. These are great for listening to on long journeys and at bedtime as kids are falling asleep. These are also great just to have on in the background like the radio - we pick things up subliminally at an incredible rate.
9. Read through your bibles with the specific intention of finding passages on a certain theme (e.g. justice/injustice, God's promises being made and kept/fulfilled, miracles and the 'supernatural').
10. Chunk the bible up into four sections or movements - Good - Guilt - Grace - Gratitude. To begin with this can be identifying the four big sections and then you can move on to spotting smaller sections that follow this pattern (e.g. the life of King David) and even when these pop up out of order in different ways. See if this sparks any questions or you notice any other patterns within these patterns. Once you've spent a season doing this start looking out for these themes in the world around you - this is a great way to see how the big story of scripture equips us to understand the reality of the world we live in. We find ourselves within the big story of scripture and are empowered by it to live life to the full!