We’ve probably all taken children to fast food restaurants. I, for one, don’t mind the occasional escapism provided by playgrounds and toys and packaged quick-fixes to hunger.
It is certainly an easy option and the kids leave the restaurant with full tummies. They think we’re great when we take them. But what would happen if this were the only kind of meal that a child ate? There are plenty of nutritional studies that have shown not-so-happy results everywhere from obesity to diabetes to even a low IQ.
Although restaurants are providing some healthier choices there are still no substitutes for regular, healthy and well-balanced family meals provided by parents who are intentional in planning for the growth and well-being of their children. Granted, this is not the easier option but it has been shown that there are some possibly unexpected benefits even beyond the obvious health issues. One resource I came across, the Family Dinner Project, lists some of those additional benefits as better academic performance, higher self-esteem, greater sense of resilience and even a lower risk of substance abuse
So what, you may be wondering, does that have to do with teaching the Bible to children?
Sometimes, we naively expect healthy, grounded and long-lasting spiritual results in the lives of children while taking a “fast-food playground” approach to teaching God’s Word to them.
I’m not sure if you find this to be true where you are but I am constantly having to check myself and re-focus in this area. In our busy and “instant gratification” societies I think we are sometimes tempted to forget that that is not the way of our God. How much time has he spent on his purposes in my life? What has he given up for me? Has his goal been to keep me busy or entertain me or has he always been concerned with leading me to be more like Him (and who I was meant to be)?
Is this ever your struggle?
I thought it might be interesting to put together a sort of check-list for myself. In writing this list a couple of the points required more than a little soul searching. Maybe my list will be helpful to you.
Warning Signs That I Am Becoming a McTeacher
- I’m content to passively let others do the study and thinking concerning Scripture. That is not a priority for me in planning a lesson.
- Instead of taking a careful inventory of the spiritual growth and discipleship of my students I call a class a “success” when I have kept the children busy and they like me.
- I’m satisfied teaching a “little serving of this” and a “package of that” without considering long-term goals for a child’s overall faith journey.
- My individual classes begin to “stand alone”. One lesson does not relate to the next or last and I don’t talk to the children about how each relates to God’s overall story.
- I wait until the last possible moment to prepare my lesson and do not see a need to make it a priority.
- The required amount of my own time and effort rise to the top as my most important criteria when choosing curriculum.
- For the children I often substitute non (or loosely) related activities, social events or class excursions for actually teaching the Word of God.
- I am not convinced that the Word of God is enough to maintain a child’s interest. I keep it to a minimum so children can concentrate on the “fun stuff”.
Photo “Molly Eats Cheese Pizza in Berkeley, CA USA” by Lynn Friedman via Flickr and Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/