Are You Teaching a Class or Sharing Christ with a Child?

2013_Cradle Roll Bible Reader

I spent this week preparing for my Bible class that was scheduled for today.  The class was for infants and toddlers and we were going to learn about the Birth of Jesus.  I studied the Scripture and prepared the classroom.  

We would start with a welcome time and then I would show them all sorts of animal families.  We would look at toy ducks, cows and puppies and talk about Mummy, Daddy and Babies.  Then I would tell the story of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus.  I even prepared a little craft with Jesus in a manger.  We would end the class by giving cuddles to baby dolls and rocking them to sleep.  Everything was ready.

I knew I would not have many students but today…only one child showed up.

Only one child.  People who are used to having lots of children in Bible Class might have questioned whether it is worth teaching if only one child turned up for class.  For many of us who are with small churches this situation might happen quite often.  

In the years that I have been a Bible Class Teacher there is one important thing that I have realised.  I have realised that I am not here to TEACH A CLASS.  A class is impersonal.  A class is just a group of children.  No, my calling is not to simply “teach a class”.  My honour and privilege is to SHARE CHRIST WITH EACH CHILD.  I will share Christ whether I have one student or ten.

What’s the difference between teaching a class and sharing Christ?

  • If I’m teaching a class then I am disappointed that only one child attends.  If I am sharing Christ then I see it as an opportunity to spend one-on-one time getting to know the heart of that child so that I can build a better relationship with him or her.
  • If I’m teaching a class then one child is not worth my effort.  If I’m sharing Christ then it is my pleasure to do whatever it takes to help that child get to know my precious friend, Jesus.
  • If I’m teaching a class then one child is not worth my time.  If I’m sharing Christ then it is not “my” time at all.  God has granted me golden moments to affect a life for an eternity and I do not want to waste any of those moments pining for some false version of his will that I have created for myself.
  • If I’m teaching a class then one child would be a waste of a good lesson.  If I am sharing Christ then I know that my attitude IS the lesson.  I want the child to know that I have a personal relationship with God and so can they.  Even when I am all alone I talk to God and he gives me his full attention.  If God can give me his full attention then I can give mine to one child.
  • If I’m teaching a class then I think God needs large numbers to do his work.  If I am sharing Christ then it is because I believe in the all-sufficiency of Christ.  God has plans for this child beyond anything I can imagine.    

So back to today’s Bible Class for infants and toddlers.  Just one little child but I tried my best to share Christ with him.  We held our bibles and turned the pages.  He found the sticker inside the bible’s cover that has a picture of Jesus.  We sang about the bible.   And then, when his mother and I least expected it…he said in a clear voice and with a proud smile on his face, “BIBLE”.

So I got to experience a small step in a journey of a lifetime.  Today, I had only one student.  Today, I shared Christ with a child.

Hand-prints for All Ages

Multi-age handprints

I love reading about the bible character, Caleb.  He served God his entire life.

Caleb and Joshua were the two spies that brought a good report back to Moses in the story Twelve Tribes and Twelve Spies.  Then, when he is an old man we read about him in The Land is Conquered and Caleb Fights the Giants.  Caleb did not let age stop him from fighting the battles needed to conquer the promised land.

When you teach this story invite some older Christian brother and sisters to attend your class and spend time with the children.  Ask the guests to talk about their faith and how they serve God.  They could talk about their prayer life or show photos of things they have done in their life.

Another way to help children and older people relate to each other is to have them participate in an activity together.  Hand-prints are easy and fun!

Supplies for Handprints:

  • Paper  (or use this template)
  • Washable paint such as tempera paint
  • Plate or other flat container to hold the paint (like a paper plate)
  • Paint brush or cloth
  • Damp towel to wipe the paint off  when finished

Instructions:

  1. Pour paint in flat container
  2. Apply paint to hand with paintbrush or cloth
  3. Press hand on paper and lift off carefully
  4. Repeat for each person making a print
  5. Set aside to dry
  6. Be sure and make two sets so that both the older person and the child can keep a copy.

Other Bible Stories for this Craft:

Say it With a Scroll

Scrolls can be adapted to almost any lesson using a message or the Scripture you are studying and children love making them.

One teacher used them in this way:  The children in our Bible classes recently learned about how our modern-day Bibles came about.  First they talked about original languages of Hebrew and Greek.  Then they talked about how the Bible has been translated into many languages so that everyone has the opportunity to learn about God.

They created “ancient” scrolls and copied scripture onto them.

Here’s how to make the scrolls:

Supplies:

  1. Paper cut into a long rectangular strip.  Tan or brown paper looks great but it is not necessary.
  2. Brown paint and a wiping cloth or brown crayon with paper removed.
  3. Two sticks of some kind (purchased dowel sticks, sticks you find on the ground outside, pencils…)
  4. Tape or glue to attach the sticks to the paper.
  5. Pen or crayon to write with.

Instructions:

  1. You or the children write a scripture or message on the scroll (alternatively, prepare scroll first and then write).
  2. Crunch or wad the paper up into a ball.  Then smooth it out and wad it up again.  Do this a number of times until the paper is soft and looks old and worn.
  3. If using a crayon then turn it on its side and gently rub over the paper.  The colour will be uneven and will make the “wrinkles” of the paper stand out better.
  4. If using the paint then use a small amount on a cloth.  Rub the cloth over the paper so the wrinkles will stand out and the paper look old.
  5. Use the glue or tape to attach the sticks at each end.
  6. To close the scroll just roll up the ends.  Tie it off with twine or ribbon if you wish.

Stories Suggestions for Scrolls:

  1. Jeremiah and the Scroll
  2. The Story of Timothy (All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16, NIV)
  3. Paul in Ephesus
  4. Philip Teaches the Ethiopian
  5. Or use for the memory or important verse in any lesson.  Here are some examples:
    1. The Birth of Jesus “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV
    1. Wise Men and a Star “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16, NIV
    2. Wise King Solomon “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10a, NIV
    3. Meaning of the Lord’s Supper  “Do this in remembrance of me.”  1 Corinthians 11:24b, NIV
    4. The Noble Bereans  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV
    5. Great Commission and Ascension of Christ “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20), NIV