Each summer in high school we had to read four or five books and pass a test on them to qualify for honors English class the following year. I remember, the summer before my freshman year we were supposed to read Great Expectations. As a 14-year-old, I considered it dry, to say the least. A friend of mine offered me the Cliffs Notes version and explained to me what Cliffs Notes were. I thought it sounded like a brilliant idea! Unfortunately, when my mom saw me reading the Cliffs Notes, she vehemently disagreed.
All that to say, I’m still a fairly big fan of Cliffs Notes versions of things. And I thought something similar might make Acts a little more inviting. So here goes:
Context: Acts can, for all intents and purposes be considered Luke part 2. You’ll note that both books are addressed to someone called “Theophilus”. While we’re not positive who Theophilus was, this does give us a big clue that these were written to the same person by the same person. Acts is the story of what happened right after Jesus died, the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed…again, and early Christians (who weren’t called that yet) are trying to figure out how to live out the teachings of Jesus with him not present. It’s also the story of the Holy Spirit – which gets pretty rowdy.
How to read Acts with your kids: Acts is action packed – thus the name! Acts lends itself heavily to acting things out, which kids tend to like. For instance, there is a scene in Acts 9 when Paul is lowered to safety in a basket – read that day’s passage while sitting in baskets. On the day you read about Pentecost (the day the Holy Spirit showed up), it says everyone was speaking in their own languages but they were able to understand each other. Create a special code language that only your family knows. Pick a phrase like, “Jesus is Lord” or “I love you”. It’ll be a neat little thing for just your family.
But don’t let the pressure of making a days reading “exciting” or “creative” cause you not to read. The act of reading Acts is far more important than making it special or cool. They are short readings so read it once by yourself (to be prepared for possible questions) and then read it with your kids. The whole thing might take 5 minutes, but it will be 5 minutes well spent.
As always, I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the readings or how to read with your kids. This is why they pay me the big bucks!