We were there more Sundays than we weren’t. My mom, my brothers and me. I always had a Bible in hand. Church.
My first Bible, from my mom, an NASB Children’s Bible. Followed by an NIV pastel blue Precious Moments Bible. The KJV I used for Bible drills. The NIV for Bible quizzing. And the Bible I won for inviting the most people to revival meetings one summer. I treasured God’s Word.
I remember one Sunday morning right after an ice storm. They hadn’t canceled church and I determined I was going to go. Oh, how I hated to miss. On the way from the front door to the car, I fell on the ice not once but three times. My brothers watched from the window. Occasionally, safety won out over Sunday School attendance.
All in all, I have always taken this church-going business quite seriously.
Maybe I expect too much of my students, but I do think they should have the ability to look up a book in the Bible. Any book. Even that minor prophet, Obadiah. They should know what a reference such as 12:4 means. Young and old, they should have familiarity with the Bible.
Looking back I realize I’ve felt that way, that strongly, for a long time. Perhaps God made me this way? For a reason?
When I take Spiritual gift tests, I ooze of exhortation and teaching. If you study these two gifts, it explains my style in the classroom. I don’t offer the same experience as someone gifted in say, mercy, or hospitality. We need to offer our church the very best we can with our own unique gifts.
So many teachers come to mind when I look back over the years. Kind hands. Ones who taught us to make butter. Those who sang with us. The drama experts. The theologians.
I taught 3rd and 4th graders a few weeks ago. It had been a while. The first thing we do is hand out Bibles. One Bible for every child if we have enough.
The story that day was in Luke. I asked if they knew who wrote the book of Luke? Uhhh, one kid made a guess. Luke? Ding ding. We learned about Luke. Who he was. How he knew Jesus. Where he was from. What other book he wrote.
We look up the passage of Scripture together. Even if that takes 30 minutes. It might! We take turns reading. Trust me, it is an easier thing for an 8-year old to struggle with Bible names and cities than a 38-year old.
Then, we looked at the context of the story. Were the words in red - meaning Jesus said them? Who was He talking to and what else did He share along with the particular story we studied?
Next, we do an activity or two. When I have to, I help the kids with a craft. Same Body, different body parts, right? (I Corinthians 12:12)
Over and over, we review. Because I always think in the back of my mind, “I do not want this kid to be the one who can’t remember a thing when his mom asks what he learned in Sunday School.”
Some would say I teach over the heads of the kids. Like the time I borrowed a Hebrew Bible so the kids could see the foreign letters on the page. Learn about reading from right to left. Perhaps I am giving them a little too much information?
I don’t think so. When it comes to Bible study, I’m not sure there is such a thing. That doesn’t mean we keep talking until their eyes glaze over and they bang their head on the table. I’m probably guilty of skirting dangerously close to this a few times.
Remember I attended Sunday School all my life. I loved God’s Word. My top Spiritual gifts are exhortation and teaching.
At about 37, when I really learned context is everything, something came awake in me. Every person in God’s Holy Word is real. Real flawed, yes, but doesn’t that make them much more relatable?
Last summer, I taught the Bible story in Vacation Bible School. Daniel in Babylon. By the time a church kid is nine years old, do you know how many times they have heard about Daniel in the Lion’s Den?
Does that mean they know about Daniel's story?
Not a chance. One could live to be 87 and not know all the details of the story. To quote a gal by the name of Beth Moore, “There’s a whole lot of Bible.”
So I searched for an angle. We hit on the basics of the story, because the Biblical knowledge among the kids varied. Then, we discussed the part of the Daniel story before he got thrown in the lion’s den. We discussed his diet.
I don’t mean we read a couple verses. I mean we broke it down. I had a chart. One side said Jewish diet. The other said Babylonian diet. We had 15-20 strips of paper listing various foods. And we placed the foods on their proper side.
First, we had to learn the proper side. Which took us to reading Scripture passages in Genesis and Leviticus and Acts. To learn about diet.
The kids ate it up. Sorry, bad joke. But really, they thought through every food. They realized why Daniel came out of his preparation time so healthy.
They took home the fact that God cares a lot about our diet. And because of Jesus, we can now eat lobster.
Our pastor has a saying and I love it so much I just might have it printed on a t-shirt,
“Let Scripture interpret Scripture.”
That’s what we went to work doing that day. And we talked about who wrote Genesis, Leviticus, Daniel and Acts.
Same groundwork. Every lesson.
I am not suggesting we all need to approach Sunday School lessons this way. Just please don’t sell the kids short. Please place a Bible in their hand every week. Open those pages and read. Then, you can make the butter and the craft and sing a song.
Because, truthfully, will we ever reach a time when we realize our kids read their Bible too much?