As I read about King Josiah and his zealous destruction of idols and places of false worship I wrestled with how I would relate the severe actions of destruction and even death to the lives of these 4 and 5 year olds without giving them nightmares or encouraging destructive behaviour in general.
How do we relate tough lessons in the Bible to children?
Here’s how I prepared for the lesson about Josiah. There were many actions and themes that children this age would find confusing and disturbing. So, as I read about Josiah, I tried to focus on God and then thought about how Josiah responded to him. Here’s what I came up with:
God is Holy and Josiah believed this passionately and wanted to honour him.
God desires and commands our sole worship. Josiah was indignant about the prevalent idol worship in the kingdom.
God expects to be taken seriously. Josiah took his kingship seriously and was determined to change his kingdom.
God displays emotions but he always does the right thing. Josiah’s anger, indignation and outrage did not lead him to sin. These emotions propelled him into actions that honoured God.
God’s Word is true. Josiah had respect for God’s Word and obeyed it.
God is concerned about everyone. As king, Josiah displayed leadership and shared God’s Word with his people.
Trying to teach all of these would have been too much for 4 and 5 year olds to comprehend so I focused on just two main points that I thought they could best relate to. I felt confident in the priority of these choices since they are also how God started when he issued the 10 Commandments.
God is Holy.
Do not worship idols or anything else besides God.
God is Holy
We spent time in a “special” area I had created in our classroom. I wasn’t trying to re-create the temple but I made the space special with some silver wrapping paper and some strings of gold beads that I found. As we sat in this space we read from God’s special book, talked about the special tabernacle and temple and then spent some time talking about how God is different and holy.
Do Not Worship Idols
After sharing the Bible story we spent some time destroying idols! The children took turns finding a scroll I hid underneath some carpet tiles. If they found the scroll they “read” it.
Yes! for God……….No! for idols
Once they found and read the scroll they then followed Josiah’s example in clearing out all of the idols. The biblical version is much more graphic. We expressed our outrage by kicking them and knocking them down.
To conclude the class we gathered in and focused on God’s holiness one more time.
For older children I would follow up by taping pictures of other “idols” on the boxes to show that anything we place as more important than God can be our idol. This might include possessions, beauty, sports…and the list goes on.
Sometimes we try our best and then wonder if children actually retain what we have taught them. I thought you might enjoy watching this video of children sharing what they have learned. I don’t know about you, but these children certainly encourage me to keep teaching!
Although we may sometimes view the Bible as a collection of stories it is actually one story. It is God’s Story. It is about how he has revealed himself to mankind throughout history.
Thank you to the Memorial Road Church of Christ in Edmond, Oklahoma, USA for allowing me to post this video on www.missionbibleclass.org
Thank you to the children on the video who are willing to share The Story!
Fabric scraps, old sheets and other odds and ends can be treasure for a Bible class teacher. Using some of these items a teacher might dress up as a Bible character to tell the story. A teacher can also collect items that encourage children or other volunteers to play character roles in an impromptu re-enactment of the Bible story they have just been taught.
The brave volunteers at left are modelling examples of costumes that could be used for Elijah’s nemeses, Jezebel and Ahab in the story God Takes Care of Elijah.
Child’s Play or Ancient Teaching Method?
At first glance this might seem like a childish way to review or re-tell a story. How can something this fun be serious, right? But think again! More than once in the Bible prophets used variations of costumes and props to bring home a message from God.
Jeremiah and a Yoke
We can read in Jeremiah 27-28 how the prophet, Jeremiah, was instructed by God to wear a wooden yoke to show how the people would fall under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
Even though SPBC is a small school the student body consists of people from many parts of the world. As students cheerfully sang the same song in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalon and Thai I was reminded again and again that the love of Jesus is for every person in the world. This means every language, every culture, every socio-economic group and every age.
Children are naturally curious about people in other parts of the world so I think they will enjoy listening to “Jesus Loves Me” in various languages. How about taking your laptop or tablet along with you when you next time you teach one of the following lessons?
One of my favourite parts of teaching is conversation. There are times in a normal classroom setting for children to quietly listen while I share a story, read from the Bible or give instruction. But, as far as I am concerned, I have not done my job as a teacher if I have not interspersed that lecture style with plenty of opportunities for good conversation between the students and myself. I don’t want to always be the one talking. I also want to listen. I don’t accomplish this every time but it is my goal to engage with each child that I teach.
This is one of the reasons I love simple activities like the ones below.
In these activities the teacher and students draw simple pictures and participate together in discovering the important words and ideas in a Bible story.