Published by Crossway Books on April 28, 2020
Genres: Children's, Non-Fiction, Devotional
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This Bible reading plan for children ages 6-12 guides them through the life of Christ over the course of a year, teaching kids what Scripture says about Jesus. In less than five minutes a day, children will get to know the life and teachings of Jesus and his offer of abundant life to all who believe in him.
Most children’s devotionals I’ve read are either too guided. The correct answers are telegraphed to the student to the point of absurdity. No real thought has to be given and, therefore, nothing is ever really learned in any meaningful fashion. Meeting with Jesus is more than just a daily devotional, it’s a practical handbook that will teach children to read Scripture critically and thoughtfully.
The book does this by being very open-ended. It’s a guide. Curriculum creator David Murray simply sets up the structure and gets out of the way. Rather than spell out everything for the student, Murray challenges them to read the Bible for themselves and make their own observations.
Each week has a different theme or narrative and, over the course of fifty weeks, takes readers through the Gospel of Luke. That’s not entirely accurate, as Murray allows himself the flexibility to move into other Gospels as needed to more fully flesh out certain themes or narratives. One example of this is the Last Supper narrative. John provides a much more detailed look at that pivotal time and Murray spends a whole week in John 13. The fidelity to a single Gospel helps young readers stay focused and learn how to read Scripture contextually within one book, but going outside that one Gospel when needed also teaches them to read contextually within genre.
There is a section every week for prayer points. I would encourage students to come up with two or three things to proclaim in prayer each week—not just requests, like Jesus is Cosmic Santa, but real areas of desire, thankfulness, lament, and concern. Each week also contains a memory verse taken from the week’s reading.
The daily readings (Monday-Saturday) are usually no more than a paragraph or two—maybe eight verses at most—and a one question for reflection. Space is provided for young readers to add their thoughts, answer the questions, and reflect on that text.
As a pastor, I appreciate how Meeting with Jesus handles corporate worship in the Sunday service. The Talking About Jesus section gives students an area from the previous week’s lessons they can talk about with their friends. Listen to Jesus is modified to allow the student to write about what they learned from the main service, with a section for the sermon’s title and Scripture reading, and a place for notes.
This is subtle, but important. It would have been easy to skip Sundays entirely. By adding a section for Sundays, Murray connects corporate worship with individual devotion, upholding the value of each method of learning and worship. It also teaches them to apply the same spiritual practices and formation from the book to their church experiences. It’s a beautiful way to build spiritual formation and maturity in both individual and corporate settings.
Meeting with Jesus is a must-have. I actually have plans to incorporate this book into our late-elementary and middle school church programs to spend a year simultaneously going through the Gospel basics, teaching children how to read the Bible, how to develop daily devotional time, how to engage with “big church,” and more.