Many years ago, I watched a movie that, in a sense, took my breath away. It had beautiful imagery, a storyline that gripped your heart as you were swept into the characters’ thoughts, feelings, joys, and sorrows. Soon ,I found myself even cheering the characters on as the story unfolded. That’s the power of great story-telling…and the danger also. How so? Because this particular movie told a story alright, but it was a story that, when examined by a discerning eye, was glorifying sin, unfaithfulness, and adultery!
The example points to the following: Great storytelling can be a great gift, or a great danger. This should especially be kept in mind when we use storytelling as a means to convey the narrative of the Bible to children.
Great storytelling can bring the Bible alive,
I believe that God is able to bring about true repentance and belief in young children. Pastor Dennis Gundersen believes this, too. But he also wants to caution us and point out some important realities, especially regarding children growing up in Christian homes:
How common will it be to hear a profession [of faith] from a child who is being reared in a Christian home, especially in a home where biblical instruction and exemplary godly faith is presented to him frequently, perhaps even daily, God giving your family grace! Should we then actually be surprised to hear him say that he believes the things his parents believe?...
In such a family climate, can it then be considered a remarkable thing that a child says he believes the gospel which
One of the greatest gifts a teacher can give students is to train them in how to study the Bible for themselves. By the time students have reached eight years old (third grade), they should be encouraged and expected to interact with more and more text during the lesson, including reading passages aloud. Their Bibles should be open more often than not. They should be able to quickly look up two or more passages of Scripture during a lesson and/or be able to examine larger portions of text. Doing this will require careful thought and preparation on the part of the teacher.
In my opinion, one of the main reasons teachers and parents hesitate to teach young children about the wages of sin is to protect their self-esteem. We don’t want children to feel bad about themselves. But that begs the question: Are they (and we) supposed to feel good about sin? Will avoiding the issue of sin help our children? Or will it tend to give them a foolish and dangerous image of themselves? Will they desperately seek the Savior if they don’t first understand and grasp the danger they are in?
Here is a real-life example: A teacher was alarmed because, after teaching a lesson about how we are all sinners and are helpless to save ourselves, one young child in the class broke down in tears. The teacher felt bad about the incident and wondered if we should be teaching this hard truth to children this
Here is a really good reminder from youth minister Cameron Cole:
Biblical and theological knowledge have inherent value, but they carry far more weight when students understand their significance in the context of their whole life. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus teaches, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Christ points to his words of truth as necessities for life. When we simply teach kids doctrine with no practical application, we reduce Christianity to an academic exercise rather than the fuel of each day.
Given where students are developmentally, most of them cannot make the connection between biblical
In years gone by, parents and teachers used to speak of “character development” in children. Books and curriculum were written to help encourage children toward godly character traits. Unfortunately, some of these resources tended to give children a mistaken view of godly character—one devoid of the Gospel and the need for true saving faith. Good little boys and girls on their way to eternal destruction! As parents and teachers, we must take the greatest care to constantly point our children toward the Gospel, with the desire that they would embrace true saving faith in Christ, and then grow in spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity=godly character. What might this look like in their lives? What kind of character qualities does true faith increasingly produce? Using Micah 6:8 as a backdrop, “
Every American tax payer knows what today is: Times up, your income tax returns and any money you owe is due. And if your children are like my own, they have heard a lot of grumbling from their parents about taxes and the government in general. Give me 10 minutes and I can give you 100 reasons to grumble about our government and leaders! But, is that how God would want us to view the government? Does the Bible give us a different perspective in how we should respond to paying taxes?
To help you and your students explore a biblical perspective on government (and even taxes), here is a free lesson from our curriculum,here.
(Image courtesy of Arvind
With the growing emphasis on wanting children to be “gospel-centered,” there seems to be some confusion about the role of God’s law, rules in general, and obedience. Some would even argue that we shouldn’t emphasize obedience in children lest they fall into a salvation by works mentality—that ugly enemy, legalism. But in doing so, are we inadvertently reaping a generation that is increasingly unconcerned about obedience and holiness in the Christian life?
Here is a really helpful article by Owen Strachan, “Is it Anti-gospel to Teach Kids Self-control Before Conversion?” Consider carefully to his words to parents and the church in general:
It’s only 8 a.m., but already I have seen and heard mighty deeds of God.
For his invisible
Here is a little assignment: What would you say best characterizes your church’s ministry to youth? What key words are used to describe its purpose, mission, and activities? (If you don’t know this off the top of your head, go to your church’s website and look for a link to youth ministries.) Now read these words from Pastor Kevin DeYoung in his post, “Reaching the Next Generation: Challenge Them With Truth”:
In his book on the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers, Christian Smith coined the phrase “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” to describe the spirituality of American