The word “theology” sounds pretty intimidating. The word literally means “the study of God”, and it’s often viewed as a pursuit reserved for pastors or Bible teachers. But did you know that you and I can be theologians, too? In fact, we are all theologians by default. Furthermore, if your kids are followers of Jesus, they are also called to be theologians, too! The study of God and his truth is a calling we all have been given, whether we’re just starting out on the journey of learning or if we’ve been at it for a lifetime (Ps. 119:9-11; 1 Pet. 2:2).
For families who want to grow together in both their likeness to Christ and the knowledge of his truth, time in God’s Word is essential. Our children need to be direct to the Word of God within their home, not just at church. Fathers bear the ultimate responsibility to ensure this happens (Eph. 6:4)! But this important factor of family life isn’t easy to make a reality.
God’s Word is a massive treasure trove of content our family needs, but it’s hard to know where to start—or even what to cover or not to cover. As children grow, it becomes more difficult to meet each one where they are in their cognitive or spiritual growth arc. They need a structured approach to the study of God’s truth that they can grasp. Exposure to the truth of Scripture is vital for our kids, but wise and strategic exposure is almost as vital!
Thankfully, there are numerous tools available that can help dads lead their families in Bible study. We are excited to perhaps help you narrow the selection a bit by suggesting resources we have found helpful and edifying for our own families.
A couple of months ago Andy provided an overview of The Big Picture Story Bible (you can read his review here). Let me introduce you to another similar resource: The Ology: Ancient Truths Ever New by Marty Machowski.1
A tool for all age levels
While the Big Picture Story Bible is a fantastic tool for your younger children to Scripture, The Ology is designed to meet the needs of your older children, too. Marty calls it “a multilayered educational resource for grade school children”. At the beginning of the book, he provides a detailed parent guide, including specific ideas on how to approach using it for early ages, late elementary students, or even teens.
The book is remarkably flexible and effective in its usefulness for our children, no matter their age. For younger children, Marty writes in a way that our little ones can understand. Each lesson features beautiful illustrations that enhance understanding of the content rather than distract from it. But those aren’t the only “pictures” he provides. Throughout his writing he uses true-to-life word pictures that are original and helpful in illustrating the truths he is teaching.
For older children, Marty provides strategies for everything from Scripture memory to journaling as your children read. At the back of the book, he provides a glossary of important theological terms that align with concepts readers will come across throughout the book. If our children’s theological vocabulary is growing, they will understand their own Bible reading and the preaching of it more and more. He even provides questions for each section to prompt further discussion between you and your children about each lesson.
A systematic structure
God very intentionally produced his Word with the structure of a single arching story. It is important to teach our children that story and present the truth (theology) of Scripture as it fits into that story.
But that is not the only way to present theology to our kids. We can and should also use an organizational structure to help them grasp what they are learning. You may have heard the term “systematic theology”—and then likely moved on with your day assuming that was a topic reserved for those slaving away in the walls of a Bible college or seminary. But systematic theology simply refers to organizing the truths of God’s Word topically. And that’s exactly what The Ology is designed to do.
The book is organized into eleven categories of truth found in God’s Word, featuring headings like “The Ology of God”, “The Ology of Sin”, “The Ology of Christ”, “The Ology of the Church”, and “The Ology of Adoption into God’s Family”. Each section features several lessons (71 in total), each one teaching a particular Biblical truth. Each lesson has a block of Marty’s text, several Scripture passages typed out, an illustration or two, and a list of several other passages for further study or memorization.
By walking through this book cover to cover, your child will be provided with a thorough, effective, and convicting overview of the bedrock truths God has revealed to them in his Word—truths he wants them to know and calls on us to teach.
I highly recommend this resource for you as you expose your grade school children to the systematic truths of God’s Word. I have even found myself regularly being edified and challenged by my time reading this book with my children. I know you will be too. In the end, that’s what this is all about—learning and growing alongside each other and becoming stronger “theologians” together!
Marty is on the pastoral staff of a large church in Pennsylvania, where he has served for almost 35 years. Much of his ministry has been with children, and he has overseen, written, or produced numerous tools, curriculums, and programs for children of all ages. His experience ministering to children is vast, and his ability to communicate truth to them is clearly visible in his writing. ↩