As every parent knows, no two children learn the same way. Yet we often forget that those differences carry over into adulthood. As Sherry Surrat notes, “one size fits all” does not apply to studying the Bible. “You need to try different ways to grow in God’s Word. You have to find what works for you. Find your rhythm.” As a mother of two and the former president and CEO of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), Surrat spoke with Bible Study Magazine about overcoming isolation and studying the Word as a family.
BSM: How were you taught about the Bible as a child, and how did you teach your own children?
Surrat: I learned the foundations of the Bible through reading Bible stories. In Sunday school I also participated in something called Bible quiz, where we would memorize a book of the Bible and then compete. I credit a huge part of my Bible learning to memorization. We encouraged our own children to memorize one verse at a time, focusing on the meaning of the verse more than memorization. We really tried to teach our children to take it to heart, asking “What does this verse mean to you? What is God saying to you in your life?”
BSM: Did you notice any differences between your children’s understanding of the Bible?
Surrat: God’s Word is very personal, and you have to find your own way of letting God speak to you. Our son took things at face value. Our daughter was more of a questioner. When we would get together as a family and talk about the Bible or what God was doing in our lives, our daughter would ask, “Why did God take so long to answer that?” Our son’s personality was, “Cool, God did that!”
BSM: What unique challenges do moms face when it comes to studying the Bible?
Surrat: On average, preschoolers demand attention from their moms once every seven minutes. Many of the moms who join MOPS want to study the Bible, but they don’t have time. At MOPS, we agree not to judge each other because we know that time is a precious commodity. We don’t want a mom to skip coming because she hasn’t had a chance to read her Bible. We challenge mothers to make it their goal to grow closer to Him every day, but we don’t need to guilt people into pursuing a relationship with God or Bible study. He already loves us.
BSM: What is the benefit of studying the Bible with other moms?
Surrat: Moms of preschoolers are often home alone with their children, and they have little opportunity for adult conversation. It can be very isolating. When moms come to the group and share their stories and struggles, it draws them together. A MOPS group is not a Bible study, but an important connection point where moms can find community and be encouraged to take that next step toward Christ.
When you study the Bible with another mom, you’re studying with someone who understands you, who may be experiencing the things you’re experiencing: frustration, depression, doubts about whether you’re a good mom or questions about your marriage. This common bond allows for discussions to take off. You’re not studying the Bible to memorize it; you’re studying it to understand your life and discover who God made you to be as a woman, wife and mom.