Inoculating Children Against the Bible
Lesson plans and stories for Sunday School or Children's Church can be expensive. Here's a RADICAL idea that will save you money, give the kids great stories, AND help you grow in your understanding of scripture...
here it is...
Like I said, it's radical! Imagine if our teachers in elementary school read stories to us... like Old Yeller, Stuart Little, or Charlotte's Web... oh, wait! They DID! And you know what happened? We learned to love to read those types of books when we saw whole worlds come to life from words on a page.
With our current methods of teaching, we may be inoculating our kids against the Bible. Think about it... To inoculate someone against a virus, we give them small portions of it over time. Eventually, they become immune to the full virus.
In the same way, we give our children a Bible verse here and there, a retold version of a Bible Story (complete with pictures!) with a few details left out... some even added in! Eventually, this child will come away with the idea that he needn't read the Bible, itself - it's enough to read devotionals. They'll think that the Bible is too hard to read, so they spend their lives living on MILK - reformatted little lessons, rather than the MEAT of the Word. And if this child EVER picks up the Bible, it will be so unfamiliar to him or her, that they will quickly become convinced that something is either wrong with them or their faith.
We see that happening in this country over and over, with children leaving strong churches and falling away...
We can, we MUST instill the Word of God into the minds and hearts of our children. We can never be more clear or clever or exciting than God's Word. If you are not convinced of that, I challenge you to start reading the Bible anew. Grab a Bible version* that your pastor can recommend or is comfortable with - and read the story of Jonah. Use funny voices! Read it with FEELING! Some of these characters are scoundrels, whiners, cheats, children, etc. Read the story and try to express the emotion and attitude of those in the story. Stop occasionally and ask the children what THEY would think or do in that situation.
For instance don't beat up on "ol' stupid Jonah" TOO much for trying to hide from God... because we are JUST as stupid when WE do the same thing!** We can be honest with the characters in these stories. They are just like we are, fallible, stupid at times, unsure, wasteful, selfish... We don't have to impose a lesson in a story, there are several in each one.
I've seen children laugh, moan, and sit on the edge of their seats while I READ a Bible story to them - that they've heard all their lives... or have they? You will learn more than you ever thought possible as you "study" for the lesson - and you will give your children in your care the greatest gift possible... A LOVE FOR READING THE BIBLE.
CASE STUDY: I read all three chapters of Christ's Sermon on the Mount at the Bible Camps I speak at. They always laugh at the right spots and listen intently. One night I did that and the head pastor told me that it was "too much" for the kids... The next morning I was told that an ENTIRE cabin of Junior girls had given their lives to Christ during the cabin devotions! God's Word IS powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword! However, the more we water it down, the less power it will have on the children in our care.
* (KJV) If you feel that only the King James Version is appropriate and inspired I respect that. If so, please try to read the KJ to your children out-loud with all the emotions and reading style that your would read any other piece of literature to them.
However, if you struggle with the grammar structure or old words, please consider another translation - if only for reading the stories. Use KJ for Bible memory, if you will - but reading God's Word aloud with feeling might require something different. All arguments included... a new translation is certainly a better "version" than commercially reproduced children's Bible lessons or story books - where events and facts are commonly omitted or added.
** One of the things you can interject is some interactivity with the children. For instance, whenever it was said that Jonah was running away from the Lord, all the kids were to say, "Ol' stuuupid Jonah!" Of course THAT was later replaced with, "Ol' stuuupid ME!" when the children could admit that we do the same "stupid" thing when we act like God can't see the sin we do.