How to make the B-i-b-l-e the best book for kids!
Poll a thousand Sunday school teachers and you’ll find a thousand teachers who want to pass on their love of the Bible to children. Each week, all across the planet, these teachers spend countless hours in preparation to introduce children to Scripture’s richness. That’s the indisputable truth!
And, yet, if we took a closer look in some — not all — of those classrooms, we might find that in our eagerness to share our passion for God’s Word, we’re sending kids the wrong message about the Bible. Press on to discover three ways teachers can present distorted views of Scripture — and how you can avoid these inaccuracies.
WRONG MESSAGE #1: The Bible Is a Trivia Book
Do you know the definition of trivia? Here’s what dictionary.com reveals: Trivia is “matters or things that are very unimportant, inconsequential, or nonessential.”There isn’t a Sunday school teacher on this planet who believes the Bible is unimportant, inconsequential, or nonessential! Yet it’s one of the most common beliefs we transmit to children. How could this happen? It’s through our teaching techniques and discussion questions.
There’s an adage in management that we can only “expect what we inspect.” Children are intuitively aware of this adult trait. They’ve learned that the reason parents ask more questions about brushed teeth and cleaned bedrooms than they do about the names of all the Pokémon species is that parents value hygiene more than trading card games. When we use review games or debriefing questions that focus on the details of the story (“Name the 12 disciples”) over transformation (“What does it mean to follow Jesus?”), our children respond by assuming that adults value the Bible as a collection of divine minutia.
THE SOLUTION = Ask Questions That Promote Comprehension and Transformation
Michael and Heidi Martin of TruthQuest Ministries say, “The most important questions are ‘what?’ and ‘why?’ Knowing the facts about the Bible is great, but unless a child understands why it applies to life, it won’t really have the impact we desire.” When we ask questions that promote comprehension, children pick up our conviction that the Bible is telling an important story. When we ask application questions, children come to understand that we’re inviting them to take their place in that story.
Aaron Reynolds, the author of The Fabulous Reinvention of Sunday School (Zondervan) and former Promiseland staffer (at Willow Creek Church in South Barrington), goes a step further and reminds us that the questioner is just as important as the question. Reynolds says, “When done really well, a small group leader is our best link to a parent, our best link to the heart of a child, our best link to understanding if the principles and application of the biblical teaching is sinking down to their toes and getting lived out.” Relational context, then, shapes the outcome of biblical assessment. Bible quizmasters and “game show hosts” may extort rote answers from children’s memories, but they also reinforce the “Bible-as-trivia” outlook. Disciplers, mentors, and small group leaders ask “why?” questions that reveal their conviction that the Bible is valuable for training in righteousness.