Am I a McTeacher?

Lynn Friedman_Molly Eats Cheese Pizza_7047008741_f3489861ab_z

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”.

 

Click here for help on choosing meaningful learning activities.

 

Photo “Molly Eats Cheese Pizza in Berkeley, CA USA” by Lynn Friedman via Flickr and Creative Commons https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

 

Mothers of the Bible Quiz

Mary and Jesus at Jesus Birth Mother’s Day is coming up (May 10th, 2015 here in New Zealand) and I usually help the children write cards or make gifts for their mothers.

These days, the quickest way to find good ideas for Mother’s Day gifts is to go to Pinterest online and simply type in something like “Mother’s Day gifts from kids” into the search bar along the top of the page.  Once you click the search button you will find more ideas than you know what to do with!

But, even while you are preparing for others, I thought I would put together a little quiz for you, the teacher.  You try to challenge the children so here is a little challenge for you.  After all, children are not the only ones who like to have fun.  I’ve never tried creating an online quiz before so let’s see if it works 🙂

Answers Below (Don’t Peek!)

Once you have taken the quiz you might like to use the links below to find out more about these women of the Bible.  Actually, you can hover over each question and find the quick answer.  Have fun!

  1. My son was raised by another woman.
  2. Both a mother and a career woman.
  3. A mother who laughed.
  4. A mother who received baby gifts from smart men.
  5. Manoah’s wife’s son.
  6. Her husband was a priest and son a prophet.
  7. Match-making mother-in-law.
  8. Mother accused of being drunk while praying.
  9. A prophet raised her son from the dead.
  10. Tricky mother with a tricky son.
The photo above is from http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/ 

Stargazing and Pointing the Way

Star Gazing

One beautiful summer evening, years ago, I held my sleepy two-year-old son in my arms as we gazed at the twinkling stars in the night sky.  He peered intently as I pointed out constellations with my finger and reminded him that God had made each star.  I was touched that we were sharing this special moment together until I realised that, in actual fact, he was not looking at the stars at all.  His full attention was concentrated on my hand!  He was trying to make his chubby little fingers bend and point in the same way mine did.

And sometimes that is how it is when we teach children about God.  In our minds we are viewing a grander and bigger picture of the Story of God but the children we are teaching are concerned with what is directly in front of them.

In time my son learnt to look beyond my pointing finger to see and appreciate God’s creation on his own.  In fact, his knowledge of the night sky long ago far exceeded mine.  He still loves his mother but now he has a unique and personal relationship with the Creator beyond what I could have planned for him.

In the same way, the children we teach will eventually see far beyond the individual Bible stories and begin to appreciate how each fits into God’s Greater Story.  I know it is your prayer, like mine, that they will understand how they themselves fit into that story.  I hope this will be far beyond what you and I could plan for them.

We ourselves need to remember that, at its core, God’s Story is more than facts, heroes, doctrines, moral lessons or even how children can live happy lives.  These things are pointers but the grander and bigger story is about The One who creates, restores and reigns.

Timeline Pics

Helping Children See the Bigger Picture

Learning the Stories of the Bible will provide children with a strong spiritual foundation that will continue to shape them throughout their lives.  But to understand an even grander and bigger picture of God children also need to understand how the Bible fits together as one continuous story.

A friend of mine drew the simple figures above as memory joggers so that children could draw them and tell the basic story of the Bible:  creation, law, kings, Jesus, the church and the final coming.  The pictures are intentionally simple so that children can easily draw them.

Other teachers have painted these pictures on their classroom walls as a timeline.  Pictures of individual Bible Stories are attached to the appropriate places on the timeline so that children understand the chronology and how the stories fit together.

Whatever methods you use to share God’s Story may God bless you as you point children toward him.

Photo at top of post: “Star Gazing” by Uditha Wickramanayaka
Creative Commons via Flickr
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Who Else is Teaching Children about God?

Teacher and Map

Is anyone else out there?

As parents and Bible Class teachers we can sometimes feel alone.  Children are hearing so many unhealthy messages from the world that we can feel inadequate in sharing the truth of God’s Word with them week after week.

But remember there are others around the world who, like you, love children and have a hope-filled knowledge that God will make an eternal difference in their lives.  They, like you, do not know the future challenges the children will face but they believe that the faith they will need comes from hearing God’s Word.

 

Stand Alone on the Word of God

  • Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are not enough.
    As Jesus reminded Satan, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
    Matthew 4:4
  • Moral behavior and strong values are not enough.
    Jesus described discipleship to the Jews who believed him when he said,  “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
      Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    John 8:32, NIV
  • Being born into a faithful family is not enough.
    The author of Romans talked about the people of God (the Jews) that did not accept his son, Jesus, when he writes, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”
    Romans 10:17, NIV
  • We are not enough.
    Hopefully, we are doing our best to plant the seeds of faith in the children we teach.  But even the Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians that, “neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. ”
    1 Corinthians 3:7, NIV

Others are standing with you!

You are not alone.  Each week people from around the world view www.missionbibleclass.org searching for help in sharing God’s word with children.  They are reading their bibles, preparing visual aids and devising activities that will help children better understand what God is saying in his Word.

This week these pages have been viewed 17, 843 times by people in 128 different countries.  So, you are part of a global community.

Scroll down below to see where your fellow teachers are from.

(The countries are listed in order of where the most views are from.)

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