Adventure Pals Blogs
Restarting Your Children’s Ministry – part 8
Now, as I mentioned earlier, there are a number of ways to teach biblical truth. However, before we discuss story telling mediums, let’s take a moment to be reminded of the message. The message of the Bible is rooted in the fact that God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place on the Cross – this is the heart of the Gospel. If we don’t teach our children to believe in Jesus, the world will teach them not to believe in Him. However, it doesn’t stop there. We need to teach them the whole of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation.
The children are eager to learn. They want to learn God’s Word. I love this unsolicited comment from a preteen who surprised their parents by saying “I finally got an answer to my questions – Miss _____ is the best Sunday School teacher ever – she answered my questions from the Bible!”
In addition, we need to teach them to defend their faith. “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). We should not be afraid of having our beliefs tested. If you are afraid of being wrong, then you might not have a good argument. Always remember, the truth is on our side, for God is Truth and His Word is Truth. This is so important because fear of being wrong, or not knowing the right answer not only keeps us from defending our faith, it often leads to defecting from the faith. This is why many of our children fall away in their late teens and early twenties. This should not be, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:7-8).
If you’re struggling in this area, you’re not alone. Many Christians who have grown up in the church cannot defend their faith. Do not despair. While it is beyond the scope of our topic to deal with this, a quick Internet search on Christian Apologetics will yield a vast supply of helpful information.
Moreover, it is imperative we present the support of our biblical beliefs with gentleness and respect. While society seems to have lost the art of debate and discussion, it behooves us as Christians to learn it and practice it. Our goal is not to destroy those who oppose Christ, but rather, to convince them of the Truth and bring them into the Kingdom.
As was mentioned earlier, much of the Bible is written in a narrative format. That is, God presented His Word to us as a story. So, be the story teller. When you tell the story with excitement and conviction, it is a wonderful way to communicate the truths of God’s Word to children.
Things that aid us in the telling of the story are often referred to as mediums. For example, a painter may use any number of mediums to produce a painting. This may include oil, pastel, or watercolor paints. Or perhaps pen and ink. The scene you want to paint often dictates the medium you use. It is also about what you’re comfortable using. As a general rule, use what works for you, though, don’t hesitate to expand your repertoire of useful mediums and tools.
What’s great about teaching the Bible is you don’t have to make up the stories; God has written them down for us. Open your Bible and study the passage. Bible teaching materials are available from a number of distributors. While these are generally a good starting point, don’t hesitate to go beyond them. Learn the material and be prepared to present it.
Tell the story. Don’t read it. Tonal inflection is important if you want to keep a child’s attention. Again, excitement and conviction are both essential.
Though some are more vivid than others, God has given us each an imagination. Engaging both the story teller and the listener’s imagination is often helpful in conveying the message. To help with this you have several useful tools/mediums readily available.
• Decorations – keep it simple
• Finger puppets or even larger puppets
• Stuffed Animals – lions for Daniel in the lion’s den
• Flannel graph – have some fun
• Costumes – either for you or for the children (or both)
• Props – Perhaps a sling and a ping pong ball when talking about David and Goliath.
• Object lessons – again, the Internet is filled with ideas
Get the kids involved
• Ask questions
• Have them act out part or all of the Lesson
• Provide Coloring pages or even finger paints
• Use other things to reinforce the lesson – goldfish snacks for Jonah and Big Fish
The preceding assumes you are the story teller. However, there are other options. Videos can be used as a jumping off point for discussion. Be careful not to use them to fill time. The children can watch videos at home. If you use a video to tell the story, make sure you leave plenty of time to discuss it. Ask questions about what they saw and how it applies to their lives. And don’t hesitate to use decorations and props to reinforce the lesson.
Music is also a great story telling medium and an easy way to memorize God’s Word. Make sure you’re songs are biblically accurate. And most times simpler is better. If you can incorporate motions, that’s awesome! This helps focus their attention fully on what they’re singing about. Whether you use “live” or prerecorded music, kids tend to like more upbeat styles. Don’t forget the old standards, however. We should teach every child to sing “Jesus Loves Me.”
Keep in mind, this is about communicating the story and not about the medium. Be careful not overwhelm the children. We often think we need a Hollywood production to capture their attention, when, in fact, it just distracts them.
There is also God’s secret weapon for Bible teachers – the Holy Spirit. Trust Him to guide you in communicating the Truth to the little children. Remember, God loves the children even more than you do.