The Barnabas Family Bible
An essential resource for families to share together
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An essential resource for families to share together
The Barnabas Family Bible is designed to equip parents and carers to look at key Bible passages with their children in a structured way. Differing from a children's Bible in that it is written to promote an interactive family study time, it contains 110 key extracts, using the Contemporary English Version of the Bible text and spanning the whole Bible narrative. Each section includes:
- Commentary on the passage
- Questions to discuss
- Visual aid
- Activity idea
- Prayer idea
- Key verse
- Old or New Testament story link
- Guidance and support for sharing faith as a family
- A family-friendly overview of the Bible story
- A selection of best-loved Bible passages
- Further resources to support families and family Bible study
Jane and Martyn introduce the Barnabas Family Bible
I wonder how the Christian faith was passed on to you. Did you read Bible stories together at home? How did your parents encourage you to pray? Was God ever mentioned in everyday life?
All current research on faith development affirms that if faith isn't passed on, lived out and nurtured in the home, we can't then reasonably expect children and grandchildren to catch that faith. For too long, particularly in the Protestant Church, we have over-relied on our Sunday worship as the key way to pass on the good news to the next generation. But how on earth can 40 minutes of Sunday school once a week and the occasional family service ever be expected to nurture a deep and real encounter with God for our children? Unless we experience God's presence in the everyday of our weekday lives, faith is highly likely to remain sheltered, shallow and vulnerable.
BRF has been building on these insights for some years now and, in partnership with others, has sought to put faith nurture back in the hands of parents and carers. The publication this autumn of The Barnabas Family Bible will be a huge help in this respect. For each of its 110 key Bible stories there is a wealth of support material designed to equip parents and carers to explore those stories creatively with children in the home environment. There are suggestions for family activities and ideas for prayer and visual aids, as well as a short commentary on each passage that applies its teaching to the cut and thrust of family life today. As such it will be an invaluable resource to those parents and carers who long to help their children enjoy the Bible and who also, along with their children, want to hear how God can speak to them and be with them seven days a week.
This publication from BRF also contains helpful guidelines for parents and carers about passing on our faith within the family, on topics such as prayer, reading the Bible together and handling difficult questions. It will also, we believe, prove to be a really useful tool for leaders of all-age worship who are looking for inspiration to bring Bible stories to life when children are present in services.
Moses advised all the people of God to talk about his laws together and 'to tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you're at home or walking on the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning' (Deuteronomy 6:7, CEV). This is the way to pass on our Christian faith - not necessarily needing to find more hours in an already overstretched schedule but to find God in your existing life pattern; to find God in the everyday. The Barnabas Family Bible offers to help parents and children today to do just that.
Review from April/May 2015 Childrenswork magazine
The Barnabas Family Bible is for parents, grandparents, carers and anyone of a similar nature, but this resource would still work in a small group setting. The book provides 100 stories with an activity idea, a visual aid, key verse and questions for each story. It's a refreshing change to see a few stories in here that other resources haven't explored such as sill-sleeping Eutychus, Rahab and the spies and Revelation. The bright cover is unfortunately where the bold colours stop as each story is displayed using only black and white text. The activities and visual aid section for each story gives you detailed ideas of what to use to fill this gap but requires a little more preparation time.
I used this resource with my own children who are four, seven and ten. With that wide an age range it was clear that there was something for each of them in each story but that some elements are a bit advanced for younger children. The visual aids and activities however do provide a chance for them to all do something together.
There isn't a suggested time for each story which is fine because some stories needed more time to unpack and some needed to be picked up again at another time. The commentaries for each story are great if you need to better summarise the story but can't do so in your own words. There is a helpful section at the back if you are trying something like this for the first time, with tips on how to pray as a family and ideas on how to establish a time for these activities. This is a solid resource, making these stories relatable and easier to understand.
Lloyd Kinsley, Premier Childrenswork
From Pobl Dewi, Diocese of St David's March 2015
This book is a fantastic gem to have in your homes, churches, Sunday schools and children's clubs - it's a book to be used and not left on the shelf. The Barnabas Family Bible is an excellent resource and contains 110 essential Bible stories for families - grandparents, parents, carers or anyone who has the privilege and responsibility of caring for children - which they can share together. It contains a superb range of stories from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation. Each story is presented on a double page with the reading on one side and, on the other, a variety of different ways to engage with the biblical passage which includes a short commentary and questions that can be used around the food table or in a group. Other suggestions are also included under the headings 'visual aid', 'activity idea' and 'prayer idea', with an Old or New Testament story link. There doesn't seem to be a suggested time limit on the activities or how many days you spend on a particular story and this would have been beneficial, especially for different age ranges. This vibrant, colourful cover catches the eye immediately and gives the impression that the book contains a fluidity of colour. Unfortunately, when you open it up the vibrant colour disappears and you are left with grayscale throughout; for toddlers there do not seem to be any pictures that could captivate their imagination and engage with the story. What I found encouraging was, at the back of the book, there is a section called 'Guidance and Support'. It is written for adults to be inspired and to play an active role in sharing and exploring their faith with their children, and the way in which faith is lived out. The guidance and support engages with reading the Bible together, handling difficult questions, praying as a family and more. There is also a section that covers best-loved Bible passages and a page with further resources for you to explore. This is a simple, fun and engaging resource that can be used to nurture families in the faith. Although it lacks in presentation I recommend this book and encourage you to share it with others.
Review by Revd Victoria Jon
From the STAR News - Diocese of Peterborough November 2014
This is a wonderful Bible for the whole family to enjoy together. The stories are easy to read and have a commentary alongside them, and a number of reflective questions to consider. These are all really useful, as they help to put the story into context, allowing children to understand why it was written and how it may be relevant to us today. There is also a suggestion for a visual aid, an activity related to the story, and a prayer idea. The Bible is written for adults to read with their children, as it has no pictures and may be hard for younger children to read themselves. Having read and enjoyed some of the activities with my children, my 8 year old daughter, Molly, said that this Bible is 'Outstanding, because it has lots of really fun activities to do. Can we keep it?' It would also be useful for Children's and Families workers to use when planning services and Sunday school lessons. Well worth investing in!
by Evie McNally (and Molly, aged 8)
The Well - Autumn 2014 Methodist Church
The introduction says, 'Family is a big idea... Wherever children are being nurtured in love by significant adults in their lives, there is family.' And this book of Bible stories, commentary and activities gives a brilliant opportunity for families of all kinds to explore God's word together in an interesting, accessible and interactive way.
Stories span the whole Bible narrative, taken from the Old and New Testament, from the flood in Genesis to the battle of Jericho, through the story of Nehemiah to the life of Jesus and the early Church. Alongside each one a brief commentary is offered as well as some questions to reflect on, prayer and activity suggestions and a visual aid. It gives a helpful and creative selection of ways to engage with the story meaningfully, allowing you to 'pick and mix' ideas depending on time available, ages of family members and how deep everyone wants to explore the story.
Towards the end there's also a valuable section that offers guidance and support in
using the book, suggesting ways to set time aside, engaging with the stories as part of a regular family routine and reminding adults that we don't have to know all the answers! There's much on these pages that parents, carers, grandparents or readers of any kind will find hugely beneficial when engaging with the Bible and its stories.
It's worth mentioning that whilst it covers a significant number of stories there are no
references to Psalms or Paul's letters, but despite this it takes families on a superb
journey through God's big story. This is a fantastic addition to any family's library
and comes highly recommended for those working with them too!
Gail Adcock - Family Ministries Development Officer