It took unique experiences for me to acquire Spanish fluency…here’s what language-learning taught me about teaching kids that Jesus is more than historical.
More Than Textbook Spanish
Freshman year of high school was the beginning of my Latin-loving journey, my first Spanish class. It started with the alphabet, colors, numbers, conjugations, and cultural lessons (fiesta!). Sophomore, junior, and senior years were much of the same: important facts and logistics about the Spanish language. These things are vital to learning Spanish as a second language, and I definitely got a little more “Spanish smart.” But at the end of high school I was still far from conversationally fluent.
Fast forward through many mission trips and Latin American internships (including two different 3-month stays in Guatemala and Costa Rica), and I suddenly speak some pretty good Español, even serving as a translator on a few mission trips.
As I look at this learning journey, I can see correlations to spiritual development. I spent four years studying the language and still wasn’t fluent. I spent three months experiencing the language, and everything changed. Both high school Spanish classes and Latin American experiences were valid and valuable ways to learn. The alphabet and conjugation charts didn’t make me fluent, though. Immersion made me fluent. The difference? The way it was taught. And the way I learned. Listen, I had phenomenal Spanish teachers, but they pushed for us students to EXPERIENCE the language beyond the classroom. They knew that going deeper than textbooks was the only way we’d ever truly understand and speak fluent Spanish.
More Than Historical Jesus
This is something that is also true of Bible teaching and Bible learning. We can give all the information we want, but at the end of the day, the average person will merely view Bible information as fascinating historical facts. Isn’t that sad, though? Because the Bible is so much more than just historical facts. By turning those informational sessions into meaningful experiences (“Deeper Bible” learning), we open the door for a deep understanding of the Bible, which means a deep understanding of the Living Word, which means a meaningful relationship with Jesus! (Can I get a hallelujah?!)
A More-Than-Just-Stories Curriculum
When we were in the process of creating our new DIG IN curriculum (before it even had a name!), we held focus groups all across the country. How do you define deeper Bible? is a question we asked at every focus group, knowing that “Deeper Bible” was something a lot of folks were wanting in a new curriculum. The answer we often heard was, “I know it when I see it.” I find that peculiar and oh so interesting. People found it difficult to put words to what it means to have deeper Bible learning in a Sunday school classroom.
How is it that deeper Bible is so hard to verbalize, but easy to recognize? I think that’s because what we actually mean when we say Deeper Bible, is the Living Word that results in changed lives. And yes, when he shows up, we sure know it! Deeper Bible is taking the stories and the facts and bringing them to life in kids’ lives!
How the Bible Comes to Life in DIG IN’s Deeper Bible
Let’s look at two options of how to tell the story of Peter walking on water.
- Tell the story, read the verses. The kids hear it. Maybe it makes an impact!
- Tell the story, read the verses, bring it to life. Create an experience for the kids. The kids make a decision to step out on faith and walk across the water. Now it’s not just a story, it’s an impactful memory. Click here to see this entire activity from DIG IN!
Immersing Kids in the Bible
For a while, I had a shallow knowledge of the Spanish language. Does that mean it was bad knowledge? No. Useless knowledge? Quite the contrary. False knowledge? Definitely not. It was all very true and important and necessary and fantastic, but at the end of the day I couldn’t speak Spanish.
The numero uno most important thing about this is that kids will only ever know the facts and the figures of the Bible until they get to experience the Scriptures, the Living Word, and the Holy Spirit for themselves. Now make no mistake, the Holy Spirit is doin’ his work in their hearts and he does not need us. But I do believe that we have a role in creating meaningful experiences, bringing the Bible to life, and being living examples of his Word and his work to the children we teach.
Creating a deeper Bible experience is exactly why DIG IN was created. DIG IN is experiential and emphasizes discovery. It asks questions—tough ones! The heart behind DIG IN is to show kids how the Bible is real, alive, and relevant to their lives today. It is so much more than historical facts and figures.
The Spanish language ran deep in me because I experienced it. In this same way, when kids experience the Bible, have conversations about the Scripture, ask their tough questions, and make faith decisions, they will have an immensely deeper understanding of who God is.
Visit digin.group.com to try a demo and download free sample lessons.