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?
Some people treat the bible like a book of fairy tales where each story always ends with the villain being punished and the good person being declared a hero. But the bible is not a fairy tale. There will eventually be a great day of eternal reckoning but, meanwhile, choosing to follow God comes at a cost and good people suffer along the way.
As much as I would like to protect children from this harsh reality of life I know it is my responsibility as a teacher to begin preparing them for the weapons Satan will relentlessly use against them.
Situation Cards are a simple way teachers can help prepare children in a way they can easily relate to. It extends a bible lesson beyond facts and memorization to application to everyday life.
Non-threatening, age appropriate conversations in the safe environment of a children’s bible class is a great way to help form the faith of a child. This formation of faith begins in childhood as the Apostle Paul instructed the young man, Timothy:
“In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12-17, NIV
I often tell Bible stories without using pictures at all. My careful description of the event, dramatic inflections of my voice and appropriate gestures help the listener form mental pictures in their own minds that are better than any I could draw on my own.
Sometimes I let the children draw their own pictures (see Draw and Tell Visual Aids Made by Children). Besides being a great way for children to express themselves the pictures give me an insight into whether or not I have communicated the story well. The pictures also often reveal the child’s understanding and reaction to God’s word and I learn a lot from that.
But, if I find really good illustrations from other sources I like to use them. The old saying “a picture says a thousand words” is particularly true with illustrations of Bible events and I want to make sure the “words” the picture is saying are true to what God is saying. For this reason I am careful in using such illustrations. Here are some tips:
The illustration should be biblically correct. If the Bible describes people, settings and actions then the picture needs to depict them as it is written in the Bible. Occasionally I will use a picture that strays from this in a small way but I am careful to point that out to the child I am showing it to.
The illustration should be age appropriate. Children are quick to tell you that they are not “babies”. A picture that looks too childish for the age you are teaching shows a lack of respect on your part. But, on the other extreme graphic pictures can be too mature for a younger child and they could be traumatised in some way like having bad dreams. A picture that alludes to the event is more appropriate for young children.
Facial expressions should make sense. The stories of the Bible involve many different emotions and children study the facial expressions in illustrations to make judgements about the characters. (Note the angry expressions of the synagogue leaders in the picture above. I used this picture in teaching the story of the Stoning of Stephen.)
And not every story has a “happy ending” for every character. For instance, if you are telling a bible story that involves suffering or temptation it would not make sense for the characters to have smiling faces. This trivialises the Word of God and does not actually prepare children for real life situations that Christians face.
Illustrations should reflect the culture and time period of the event. Artistic license allows an artist to interpret events into modern-day settings. I personally enjoy some of this artwork but children are usually more literal in their thinking so they can be confused by this. For this reason I try to use illustrations that depict the biblical characters in clothes and settings of the time in which the event took place.
A few illustrations can be better than many. One good illustration might be enough to use while you tell the entire story. As a teacher you could cover up part of the picture and reveal it in stages or simply point to different parts as you tell the story. You might even choose to combine the visual aid with a craft or other activity. Try these ideas at New Ways to Use Simple Colouring Pictures.
No picture can replace good teaching. Finally, remember this…even if you choose perfect illustrations you must not depend on them to tell the entire story. Children need to hear God’s Word for a growing faith.
Free Illustrations from Sweet Publishing
The user can even distribute the works as long as they are attributed to Sweet Publishing according to the instructions provided. I’ve been working on lessons from the Book of Acts and have used the illustrations for slide shows and visual aids. I’ll include them below and am quite happy to attribute them to http://sweetpublishing.com.
I hope you will give the Illustration Website a try and use the illustrations as you share the Word of God with children.
Illustrations from “Free Bible Images”
Another wonderful resource for visual aids is http://www.freebibleimages.org/ If you have used the illustrations from Sweet Publishing then you will notice that Free Bible Images has made use of many of their illustrations.
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV)
I stressed four important words in the commission: Go, disciple, baptise and teach.
I asked how we could “make disciples” and I got the best possible response. A little girl said, “Well, I think we could just tell someone a story about Jesus and then they will want to follow him. Then they can tell someone else and they will want to follow him. And then they can tell…” This went on for a little while until someone else interrupted with, “If our whole class goes out today and tells someone then I think everyone in the world will be a disciple in about an hour!”
I want their faith!
Here is the class activity we did to help us learn about telling the world about Jesus.
A plate with enough edge that it can hold liquid.
A small bowl or saucer
Eye dropper (if you have one, I didn’t)
Pour a few drops of the dish-washing liquid into a small bowl and soak the ends of toothpicks in it. Set aside.
Pour enough milk into the plate so the bottom of the plate is covered and there is a thin layer of milk.
Pour oil over the milk. You don’t need as much oil as milk but you’ll need enough for it to eventually form a very thin layer over the milk (Don’t stress over the amounts). Stir with the spoon then set the spoon to the side.
Now, spend a few minutes watching the milk and oil separate and form oil clusters.
While this is happening talk about how this looks like the world and all its people. People like to live together in families and towns and countries. The plate looks like a map of the world.
Then talk about what it would be like if no one in the world followed Christ.
Now, add drops of food colouring to represent Christians and talk about how Christians live in the world among people who do not follow Christ. (If I had used a little eye dropper my “drops” would not have spread so much and this would have worked better. Small droplets will make the best effects.) What if Christians only stayed in one place and never told people about Jesus.
Now for the fun part! Ask the children what they think the world would look like if Christians were to follow the Great Commission and go out into the world to tell other people about Jesus. Then let the children take turns lightly touching the soap end of a toothpick to one of the drops of food colouring. Amazingly, the food colouring shoots out across the milk and oil and makes amazing colours.
Continue doing this until the white plate is full of colours. All the while you and the children are doing this talk about how telling people about Jesus changes the world.
I really think you will love this idea! Here are some photos (click to enlarge):
Notebook paper or typing paper is fine. You will be tearing layers of paper so I would suggest light or thin paper instead of something thick. It won’t matter if the paper is already written on so you could even use a page out of a magazine or newspaper.
Note: I can’t claim this idea as an original. I have seen it used in many ways and sourced from many different places so I’m not sure what the original source is. I’ve written my own story words and took my own photos but I used some of the ideas for folding instructions from http://maryricehopkins.com.
Words you could use to tell The Story of the Cross
Do you know about Jesus and the story of the cross? A cross has special meaning for Christians because it reminds of something very sad and something amazing all at the same time. And the story of the cross is about you and me and every single person in the world.
First for the SAD part:(Say this part as you fold the paper)
Jesus always did good. He taught people how to love God. He made sick people well. He even did miracles like changing water to wine and turning a small amount of fish and bread into enough food to feed over 5,000 people.
Jesus never sinned (did bad things). It doesn’t make sense that a good person like Jesus would be punished as if he was a bad person. But that is exactly what happened. Even though he had never done anything wrong he was punished. His punishment was to be put on a cross and to stay there until he died. It was a very sad day when Jesus died.
After he died Jesus was taken down off the cross. His body was wrapped in cloths and buried in a tomb.
“Death” is the sad part of the story of the cross. (Unfold the cross as you say this)
Now for the AMAZING part:
On the third day after Jesus died some women went to go visit the tomb where he had been buried. But Jesus’ body was not inside the tomb. The cloths were there but Jesus’ body was gone.
There were an angel nearby and he told the women that Jesus was not in the tomb because he was now ALIVE! The women could hardly believe it. But then, Jesus appeared to them and even talked to them. Jesus died and then came back to life again.
“Life” is the amazing part of the story of the cross. (Form the word “life” as you say this)
Now for the part about YOU and ME: (Just say this last part)
After Jesus rose from the dead he spent forty days with many of his friends and others. Then, he did not die but went straight up to heaven instead.
The good news is that Jesus died on the cross for you and for me and everyone in the world. He loves us and does not want us to have to be punished for our sins. Dying on the cross and coming back to life showed that Jesus has power over death. He has the power to save us from death, too.
Jesus will live forever and he wants everyone to live forever with him. Anyone who follows Jesus will live forever with him. Do you want to follow Jesus?
The story of the cross reminds us that “Jesus loves you and me”.