Once Upon the Bible

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Making The Connection

Not all stories or movies in kids’ culture can be used in the
same way to teach biblical truth. Some stories don’t directly
follow the Bible but make great lead-ins for the Bible stories
you’re teaching. Other stories powerfully illustrate a biblical
point you want to emphasize. What’s the difference? Here are four
ways to use stories to teach the Bible.

• Attention-Getters — Some stories share
objects or characters with Bible stories but don’t teach the same
point or have the same plot; these reappearing objects or people
can introduce your Bible story. You can point out how the whale
that swallows Pinocchio is similar to Jonah’s fish and how Jack and
David each had a giant to defeat.

For kids ages 8 and up, use stories, movie clips, or fairy tales
to introduce your Bible lesson. In the Disney movie The Jungle
Book, the characters encounter an antagonist seemingly lifted
straight out of the pages of Genesis. Kaa, the deceitful snake who
seeks to trick Mowgli, can remind kids to watch for Satan’s
deceitfulness. After showing a clip of Kaa, say, “How does Kaa try
to trick Mowgli? What does it feel like when someone tries to trick
you? How can you remember what’s true?” Then turn to your Bible
lesson by saying, “The Jungle Book is just a story, but in the
Bible, Satan disguised himself as a snake just like Kaa and
deceived Adam and Eve.”

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• Character-Connectors — Many stories have
characters similar to Bible characters who experience similar
trials. Amanda Deramus, Sunday school superintendent and teacher at
Central United Methodist Church in Detroit, Michigan, uses the
character of Cinderella to help children who’ve never heard of King
David to become familiar with him. Amanda tells kids, “David, like
Cinderella, was always left behind to do the hard work. Both David
and Cinderella spent their lives being overlooked and
underappreciated. But God is faithful! In the end, their
faithfulness made them shine, and they became the heroes of their
stories. In God’s eyes, it is not the oldest, strongest, or most
wealthy person but the one with the truest heart who makes the best
hero.” Amanda helps kids understand David’s situation better
because they connect with a similar story about someone else.

• Plot-Followers — The Cinderella-Esther
connection is an example of a parallel story. Similarly, the
“Sleeping Beauty” (or “Briar Rose”) tale parallels the story of
Abraham, Sarah, and Issac. Each set of parents wishes for a child
and finally conceives after much hoping and praying. Then, although
due to vastly different forces — one evil, the other good — the
parents are compelled to sacrifice their children. Both sets of
parents have a test of faith related to their children.

For preteens, use this type of connection to get kids to
experience the feelings of the characters in the Bible story. Have
kids form groups and talk about the feelings and actions of each
character in the fairy tale who also parallels a character in your
Bible story. Then assign each group a character in the parallel
Bible story. As you read the Bible story, pause to give the groups
time to respond with actions and words about the feelings their
characters may’ve experienced. Since kids know the fairy tale, they
should be able to follow the Bible story even if they’ve never
heard it before.

• Point-Makers — When guided with
age-appropriate debriefing questions, kids ages 5 and up can talk
about characters in stories as they explore how they might feel or
what they might do in specific situations. Talking about “Hansel
and Gretel” can teach kids to not be greedy. “The Red Shoes” can be
a lesson about vanity. For older kids, check out the “Reel Time”
and “Tuned In” sections of “Keeping Current” in Children’s Ministry
Magazine for clips from recent movies and songs that you can use to
teach biblical points.

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