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Biblical Literacy—What Will our Students Need?

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Imagine doing the following exercise with a classroom of 16-year-old students:

Summarize and explain the main meaning of Romans 3:21-26. How does this text apply to your own life?

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (ESV)

How do you think those 16-year-olds would do? What type of skills would be necessary in order to rightly read, interpret, and apply the text? Consider the following:

  • There are big words that must be understood—righteousness, justified, redemption, propitiation, forbearance, to name a few.
  • There are Old Testament concepts that must be identified and connected to their New Testament fulfillment.
  • There are important doctrines about God, man, Jesus, and redemption.
  • Essential truths about the Gospel and salvation are being proclaimed.
  • “…to be received by faith” calls for a specific personal response.

This might be a difficult exercise for a 16-year-old, but as parents and teachers we should long for our students to be able to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) by the time they leave our homes and classrooms. This will not happen by accident, but by careful and intentional instruction of the whole counsel of God.

To that end, it’s important that we give our students all of the following :

a chronological, story-based presentation of both Old and New Testament that highlights the character of God, and the major people, themes, and events

  • biblical theology that explores the “meta-narrative”—the historical/redemptive storyline of the Bible
  • systematic theology that teaches the essential doctrines of the Christian faith
  • an explicit presentation of the Gospel
  • the Bible’s moral and ethical instruction
  • inductive Bible study skills

Granted, biblical literacy cannot be measured merely by a student’s ability or inability to rightly read and interpret Romans 3:21-26. However, it is important to remember that genuine faith comes about and matures through a right knowledge and understanding of the Word (Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:14-17). So let’s be committed to pressing our students forward, encouraging them to…

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 ESV)

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Making the Most of Your Sunday School “Transition Time”

Children Desiring God Blog  //  Making the Most of Your Sunday School "Transition Time"

“Transition Time” is the time period at the beginning of class when children begin arriving. It is often characterized by children arriving at varying times. Depending on your classroom structure and routine, this time may be only 10 to 15 minutes in length. What happens during this time is important as it often sets the tone for the rest of the class session. Therefore, we would like to encourage you to carefully plan and prepare meaningful, God-centered, faith-nurturing activities. Here are a few suggestions:

Small Group Activities

At the beginning of the year, divide the class into groups of 5-8 children, each assigned to an adult small group leader throughout the course of the study. As soon as the children enter the classroom each week, they immediately go to their assigned group. This option maximizes the time that the children spend with a faith-nurturing adult who comes to know the children in his group on an increasingly familiar basis. The children feel welcomed and have a place to belong, and the setting is ideal for doing the following kinds of activities: (more…)

Reading the Bible through the Right Lens

Children Desiring God Blog //  Reading the Bible through the Right Lens

If you have attended the preconference at one of our Children Desiring God national conferences, you probably remember the teaching emphasis that “the Bible is first and foremost a book about God.” This emphasis can revolutionize the way you teach the Bible to children. But, has it also revolutionized your time with God in the Word?

In her book, Women of the Word, Jen Wilkin talks about “getting things backward” in her reading of the Bible. She states, (more…)

“More Sword Drills, Please!”

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Many years ago, I taught 2nd-grade Sunday school. At that time, we were just beginning to implement a new strategy to more intentionally present our children with a God-centered, Bible-saturated focus in our Sunday school classes. In order to maximize our classroom time toward that goal, we began moving away from the regular and time-consuming crafts to which the children had grown accustomed. However, not all teachers were convinced that this was the best thing to do. Won’t the children be upset? Won’t they grow “bored” if we don’t have some fun, hands-on crafts each Sunday? (more…)

Mining for Treasure in the Bible

Here is a new video from John Piper giving a sneak-peek at his new endeavor, “Look at the Book,” which will be coming out in September. From the description, “Look at the Book” seems like a great resource for parents, teachers, and older students so that we might read and understand the Bible in a way that will cause us to better treasure God’s Word and God Himself.

Remember, we needn’t wait until our children are older to teach them to “look at the book.” We can begin even before they are readers and continue to slowly and intentionally, step-by-step, lead them through the process of “mining” the Scriptures. Want to learn more? Check out this free handout.

Don’t Miss: “Look at the Book”

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In a recent Desiring God blog post titled, “The Legacy I Want to Leave,” John Piper shares the following sentiments:

When I think of the coming generations, I am not content to only leave them a deposit of books and sermons that celebrate the glories of God and the wonders of Christian Hedonism. A great teacher once told me to ignore the conclusions of commentaries, and only look for their arguments. I have tried to give good arguments. (more…)

Will Our Children “Drip” Bible?

I have seen this video clip by Pastor David Michael numerous times, but it still stirs my heart every time.

Bible-saturated children from Children Desiring God on Vimeo.

“We Can’t Teach That Because…”

In two previous posts, we heard Sally Michael explain why and how we should teach difficult doctrines to children. In this video, she raises and then answers the following five objections:

We can’t teach difficult doctrines to children because….

1. These truths are inappropriate to teach to children (e.g., dark; violent; evil).
2. These truths are too hard for children to understand.
3. These truths are too hard for me to understand.  How can I hope to teach them to children?
4. The kids are going to be bored with all of this theology.
5. These topics are too controversial.  I will get in trouble if I teach these things.

Creative Classroom Idea: Bible Memory Puzzles

Puzzle Piece Game
Here is a super simple activity that combines children’s love of completing puzzles with encouragement to memorize Bible verses. Target Age: 1st-3rd Grade

Supplies:

  • Cardstock or heavy-weight paper (e.g., 8.5″ x 11″)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic storage bags or envelopes
  • Computer and printer

Preparation:

  • Using a computer, type and format a Bible memory verse you are encouraging the children to learn. To add interest, include clipart or other design elements. Print the page on the cardstock.
  • Cut the page into 10-20 puzzle pieces, depending on the age of the children. (Search “puzzle template” for downloadable options.)
  • Make duplicate puzzles, depending on the number of children or based on how the puzzles will be used (e.g., one puzzle per group).
  • Place the puzzle pieces in the plastic storage bag or envelope. Label the bag or envelope with the verse reference.

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Creative Classroom Idea: Books of the Bible Clothesline Activity

Teachers, are you looking for a fun and creative activity to help your younger elementary students learn the books of the Bible? Learning this important skill will help children become more proficient in searching for, and finding, Scripture verses in their own Bibles. Try this simple activity in your classroom.

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