We joke in our house that when I get home from work, my wife clocks out from the kids and I clock in.

She’s often had a long hard day with them (she’s a stay-at-home mum; Tomos is five, Luc is two; it’s full-on!); and I come in fresh because I’ve only been dealing with adults all day.

This means that bedtime and story time fall into my domain—including, critically, Bible story time. While every family is unique, I would guess that lots of dads find themselves with this role.

Reading Bible stories can be daunting, and often just hard work. It’s so much easier to just switch our brains off and read the other random bedtime stories that are on the shelf.

Yet it is so important that we make the effort to share God’s story with our kids. If you’re a dad entrusted with this difficult task, here are a few tips I’ve learnt from reading Bible stories to my kids.

Know The Story

“Why didn’t God give everyone another chance when He sent the flood?”

That’s just one of the tricky questions I’ve faced recently! Being both tired and unsure, we’re sometimes tempted to offer cliché answers to our kids’ questions, like, “God’s ways are hard to understand sometimes.”

While that’s true, it’s not a very satisfying answer—for us or them.

There is a better way to approach their big questions—although it takes effort on our part. Know the Bible stories for ourselves!

Before I read Noah’s Ark with the kids, for example, I like to have read Genesis 6 and spent a bit of time reflecting on it.

This helps me to be ready for questions and to feel confident handling a ‘storybook’ retelling, which may not cover the real story very thoroughly.

If I know the story, I can add explanations or highlight bits that impact me. It also means I can help plot each story within the overall story of the Bible.

All the different events, characters and stories in the Bible teach us about Jesus and our need for Him. The only way we can get that across to our kids is if we realise it for ourselves.

There are some decent Bible storybooks out there that go through key Bible stories chronologically and link them together. That can be a great start for the whole family.

But we also need to put an emphasis on our own personal Bible study, because as parents, we’re getting to grips with God’s story for more people than just ourselves.

Be Natural

Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).

That’s kind of what I’m doing with my kids. I do my Bible study for story time so that I can get the key meaning of the story across to them, maybe share how the story impacts me, ask some questions to see if they get it, and answer their questions if they have any.

God has entrusted our kids to us for us to introduce them to Jesus.

But I can’t force this to happen. And it doesn’t happen every night.

Some evenings Tomos is so tired we just read the stories, and I ad-lib a little, without much interaction.

Other times the boys are so wound up that I’m just trying to peel them off the ceiling so they’ll actually go to sleep!

And then there are times when Luc is lying peacefully in his cot, everybody’s chilled out and Tomos is actually asking me great questions about Jesus.

And I am ready when he is. I don’t have to force him to engage; he can set the pace. I offer the opportunity to get deeper into the stories and allow him the space to engage.

Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About Hard Truths

Tomos has a bit of a fixation on the topic of death at the moment! I know some parents say little kids are too young to hear about stuff like heaven, hell and judgement, and that such topics would put them off God forever.

I disagree.

It is entirely appropriate to talk to our kids about the full gospel.

While most of my conversations with Luc are generally about the noises animals make, Tomos (as a five year old) is able to engage much more around more meaningful topics. I always want to be age-appropriate in how I talk to him about God, but I also want to present the whole truth from the beginning.

Tomos knows heaven is open for everyone who trusts Jesus; and he knows some people won’t trust Him, so they choose to be locked out of God’s home forever.

When we read Bible stories to our kids, we “do so as one who speaks the very words of God” (1 Peter 4:11). And it is this powerful Word that is able to transform lives (Hebrews 1:3; 4:12–13)—even very young lives.

So let’s trust God, and speak His message as it is, not excusing it, changing it or covering it up. It is entirely appropriate to talk to our kids about the full gospel.

Be A Team

My wife and I are a team on every aspect of our children’s development—including introducing them to Jesus.

It is important that I update my wife on the sorts of questions Tomos is asking, and the answers I gave, so that she also knows where he’s at.

I am ready when he is. I don’t have to force him to engage; he can set the pace.

After all, five-year-olds ask big questions whenever they pop into their heads. Tomos and his mum were walking home one day and he saw a dead ladybird on the pavement.

So he asked, “What happens to our bodies when we die and go to heaven?” My wife knew the conversations I’d been having with him about heaven, so she built on that in her answer.

Keeping each other informed helps us keep a united front, and gives confidence to both of us that we’re doing this together, even if we have to handle an awkward question on our own!

Make It A Priority

Teaching the Bible to our kids takes effort. We’re tired after a long day, nervous about the questions they’ll ask, and we know they’ll be taught God’s Word in their Sunday School . . . But the reality is that this is one of our most important jobs as dads (and mums!).

God has entrusted our kids to us for us to introduce them to Jesus.

But we also need to put an emphasis on our own personal Bible study, because as parents, we’re getting to grips with God’s story for more people than just ourselves.

Sure, helping them learn how to handle the world and become balanced individuals is super critical. But nothing compares to their relationship with God.

And we are on the frontline on that one. In fact, we are the frontline!

They rely on us for everything, especially when they are young. And that includes being introduced to God and the whole truth of His story. This has to be our priority in everything.