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Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.

With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.

Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph

Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is. (more…)

Encouraging Active Minds in the “Knowing” Process

Encouraging Active Minds in the Learning Process

I am fully convinced that one of the great challenges we have before us in teaching the next generation to know, honor, and treasure Christ comes in regards to the “know” part. While humbling acknowledging that only God can bring about genuine saving faith, we as parents and teachers, have a sacred responsibility to provide our children and students with the essential knowledge they need to understand the Bible and the message of the Gospel. After all, you cannot honor and treasure that which you do not know. Furthermore, that knowledge must go beyond a simple “rote” memorization of facts. The Christian walk requires the mind to interact with the Bible. Consider this statement by Dr. Albert Mohler:

Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection. (more…)

Enhancing Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Enhancing Your Child's Classroom Experience

Over the years of teaching Sunday school, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous comments and even some complaints from parents about their child’s classroom experience. Some of the complaints were very legitimate concerns identified by the parents that resulted in positive changes in the classroom. Others issues needed to be addressed primarily by the parents as they worked with their child on specific areas of their behavior. In my experience, one of the best ways to enhance the classroom experience for the children is to proactively clarify and understand expectations for teachers and classroom leaders, parents, and children.

For example, here are a few basic expectations for teachers and classroom leaders:

  • Provide a safe, welcoming, structured, age-appropriate environment for the students.
  • Provide well-prepared, theologically sound, faith-nurturing Bible lessons that are presented in an age-appropriate, interesting, and God-honoring manner.
  • Design a class structure that is attentive to the needs of the children while emphasizing and maximizing spiritual instruction. (more…)

How to Use Fighter Verses for Instruction

How to Use Fighter Verses for Instruction

Fighter Verses are a wonderful means to share the Word of God with our children. Breakfast or supper, riding in the car, or any time the family is together is a good time for instructional conversation about the Fighter Verses. Below are a few tips to remember as you share God’s Word with your children.

Keep it Short

A short instructional time that catches and holds a child’s interest is better than a long drawn out time that leaves the child bored and frustrated.

Teach “Bite-Sized” Portions

To keep the instruction from becoming long and burdensome for the child, teach a word-, phrase-, or verse-at-a-time, as suits your child’s age and attention. The Bible is so rich that a single verse can present a number of different avenues for instruction. Rather than worry about being exhaustive in your instruction about a passage, pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and teach the points God puts on your heart. Spend several days on a passage rather than try to cover it all at one sitting. (more…)

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Incentives. Prizes. Class recognition. All are legitimate ways to encourage and reward students for Bible memory. In my first-grade class, we always took a few moments every week to encourage Bible memory and acknowledge children who had memorized verses in the past week. We also took time to celebrate special milestones, such as when a child had memorized 25 verses. That said, there are some careful considerations I think we should take into account with all of the above.  Depending on our manner and tone, we can either serve to encourage God-honoring thankfulness, or self-centered pride. As much as possible, I want to foster the former, and not the latter.

Here is an example of what I mean by this: Suppose you want to recognize a child in your class for memorizing 10 verses. Along with this recognition and maybe even rewarding him or her with a small prize, consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement such as… (more…)

What Happened to Their “Faith”?

What Happened to Their "Faith"?

The older I get, the more I have seen this and wept. Sadly, too many of the students I once taught 15 and even 20 years ago have abandoned any pretense of the Christian faith. The great majority of these students grew up with godly Christian parents. What’s a parent to do? What’s the church to do? Last week Tim Challies had an important post, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith.”

Few things are sadder to witness than people who once professed faith leaving it all behind. This is especially true when those people were raised in Christian homes by God-fearing parents. These children were given every opportunity to put their faith in Jesus but determined instead to turn their backs on him. Why would they make such a tragic choice?

What Happened to Their "Faith"Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind.

• They leave because they have troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
• They leave because their faith is not working for them.
• They leave because they have allowed other things to take priority.
• They leave because they never personally owned their faith.

…As parents we are to commit ourselves to the task of raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to teach them the facts of the faith, to show how it answers our questions and meets our needs, to insist that the good news of the gospel must be personally apprehended. We do what God calls us to do, we do it to the best of our abilities, and we entrust the results—and our children—to God’s good providence.

whychristiankidsrebelA book I would recommend for parents is Tim Kimmel’s Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope. Even if your children have not rebelled or shown any indication of rejecting the faith, this book has some very helpful biblical counsel for all parents to consider and implement in their parenting.

 

 

They Need More than a Cheerleader

They Need More Than a Cheerleader

Melissa Kruger wrote this article for her sisters in Christ, but it also hit home to me as a teacher, parent, and grandparent. The same tendency to reduce Jesus to the role of spiritual cheerleader in ministries and resources aimed at women can easily, and oh so subtly, begin to pervade our children’s Sunday school classrooms and our parenting.

Please, please read the entire article, “Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader” in order to properly understand what she is saying and what she is not saying. As you read this excerpt from the article, think about how her points readily apply to teaching children and parenting in general.

They Need More Than a CheerleaderAnd, to be clear, Jesus does encourage. He offers words of strength to the weary and comfort to the hurting. In a world where we so often feel we don’t measure up, we need his encouragement daily. By focusing on only part of his message, however, I’m concerned that we’ve reduced Jesus to a spiritual cheerleader. And, in turn, that’s what we’ve become to one another. We offer words of affirmation, but not rebuke; words of forgiveness, but not repentance. We rightly celebrate his grace, but often forget to mourn our sin.

In doing so, we miss out on life-giving realities in our relationship with Jesus and one another. It’s the friends willing to call me out in my sin and say hard things whom I trust the most. They’re the ones I return to time and again for advice and wisdom—precisely because they recognize that who I am isn’t all I need to be.

Jesus speaks to us in a variety of ways—he teaches, commands, rebukes, calls, and exhorts. When we reduce Jesus to our personal rah-rah section in the bleachers, we miss out on the faithful friend we so desperately need. If you’re mainly hearing “you’re great!” (cue Tony the Tiger) from your devotional or women’s ministry, I invite you back to God’s Word, where we hear the voice of Jesus in a diversity of ways.

(www.thegospelcoalition.org)

Questions to ask in regard to our children’s and youth ministries in particular:

  • Do the resources we use—curriculum and other books—present the variety of ways that God speaks to us in His Word in a balanced way? Do they continually point to the greatness of God, or do they tend to make much of us instead?
  • In teaching children, does my teaching style tend toward the “rah-rah, you’re great” in an unhealthy and unbiblical way? How can I take steps to have a more balanced and biblical approach? (It’s possible to also teach with the other extreme—too little exhorting or encouraging. This is also unhealthy and unbiblical.
  • For my own devotional life, do I carefully select materials that bring me to God’s Word in such a way that I see the whole counsel of God being communicated through a diversity of commands, rebukes, calls, and exhortations? How can doing so better help me as a parent and teacher?

 

Celebrating the One Who Is Most Special

Jesus Is Most Special

One of the most special times of years is quickly approaching. How will you help your children be captivated by the joy and wonder of Christmas?

Jesus Is Most Special, by Sally Michael, is the perfect way to share the story of the birth of Jesus, along with its context in the Bible, with young children. Through reading this book over and over, even the youngest children will be motivated to retell this all-important story to others after they have learned if for themselves. Though the facts are important for children to remember, it is even more important for them to understand the message of the birth of Christ, God’s Son, the Savior of the world, the King of all Kings, who is most special of all.

Jesus Is Most SpecialEach right-hand page of the book tells a part of of the Christmas story, starting with God’s promise to send a Savior. Prompts indicate when key characters are introduced so children can act the story out using a nativity set as they share the story with others. The left-hand pages incorporate supporting Scripture and lyrics to Christmas carols to reinforce what children are learning, help them reflect on the meaning and stir their hearts to worship.

For churches or schools, the main text of the book provides a great base for the narration of a short skit as children act out the story. The accompanying verses can be interspersed as additional readings and the carols can be used to complete the christmas program.

Jesus Is Most Special is the perfect book to add to your Advent and Christmas traditions. You can look inside the book and order a copy today to receive it in time for the start of the Christmas season.

This Christmas, may you and your children worship Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings, who is most special of all.

The simplicity of this book mirror the plainness of the biblical story. Carol lyrics waft beside the brief, deep Scriptures that inspired them. In these pages the Savior is clearly worshiped—the story of his arrival touched me yet again.”
—Steve Estes, Author of A Better December

The Holy Weight of Teaching Divine Truths

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The United States Constitution, ratified on June 21, 1788

Years ago my family visited the National Archives. There, in the main rotunda, housed under heavy glass and dim lights, you can view the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—documents that changed the course of history. We approached these documents with a sense of somber reflection, understanding something of the lofty ideals and great sacrifices behind the words. However, that somber reflection was rudely interrupted by a group of junior high students joking with their friends, running and goofing around, totally oblivious to the documents they had supposedly come to see. Apparently no one had taught them about an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things.

Weighty things…I have spent the past two months writing lessons for children. Consider some of the topics: God’s holiness and righteousness, sin and judgment, the Gospel, justification, sanctification, submission to Christ, living in a manner pleasing to the Lord…All are topics of utmost, eternal importance for our children—the difference between heaven and hell, their everlasting joy or everlasting misery. These are no trifling matters. These topics, all revealed in God’s Word, are the weightiest things in the universe.

This is a constant reminder for me: Teaching children involves a holy weight. It is holy because our teaching is meant to point to and reflect the holiness of God—the one true God who is utterly unique, one-of-kind, beyond compare, majestic, and perfect in every way. It is a weight because the things we teach are meant to land on the heart, mind, and will with an appropriate seriousness meant to encourage life-transforming impact that is honoring to a holy God. We are dealing with divine priceless truths! This is true whether we are teaching 2 year olds or 12 year olds.

This changes the way I prepare a lesson, the way I pray over a lesson, and the way I present a lesson.

Does that mean there is no room for creative fun in the classroom? Are engaging illustrations out-of-bounds? Do lessons need to be presented in a drab, somber tone, and never with joyful exuberance? No, I am not suggesting any of this. I believe our curriculum has attempted to strike an appropriate balance in this regard. We use numerous, age-appropriate, child-appealing, illustrations and visuals in our lessons, but all are designed to help and encourage our students to grow in their understanding of and reverence for the triune God and the amazing gift of salvation offered in Jesus Christ. These are divine, priceless truths indeed! Let’s strive to teach our students in such a way that they learn an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things!

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Charles Spurgeon shared these words for Sunday school teachers and parents:

The Holy Scriptures must be made the means of your salvation through faith. Know the Bible, read the Bible, search the Bible, and yet that alone will not save you. What did our Lord Himself say? “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me; and you will not come unto Me that you might have life.” If you come not to Jesus, you will miss eternal life. Searching the Scriptures is able to make you wise unto salvation “through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” but not without that faith. Pray, you Sunday school teachers, that you may see this faith worked in the children whom you teach. What a blessed groundwork for faith your teaching of the Holy Scriptures will be, but never mistake it for the building itself, which is of faith alone.

(From a sermon titled, “The Sunday School and the Scriptures, No.1866.”
Found at www.spurgeongems.org)

Teach the Scriptures and pray for faith. This is a great call for parents and teachers. Teach, yes, but bathe that teaching in God-dependent prayer, pleading with our heavenly Father to bring about faith in Christ alone for our children and students.

Here are two encouraging and practical resources to consider:

Utter Dependency on God, Through PrayerUtter Dependency on God, Through Prayer

The first part of Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer is primarily directed to adults for their growth in the faith. The second part provides practical guidance to those who lead children in prayer—primarily in the classroom, but also in the living room. Eleven strategies for integrating prayer into your interactions with children serve as a springboard for creative and visionary thought as you meditate upon Scripture, seeking God with all of your heart, through prayer.

Praying for the Next GenerationPraying for the Next Generation

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children? Sally Michael encourages you to consider the spiritual inheritance you can give to the next generation through your faithful prayers. In this booklet, she equips you with a method for using Scripture to pray for your child, grandchild, or the children in your church.

 

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

 

 

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