What an amazing Bible story! A disabled man well known for begging. Two apostles who responded to the beggar by giving him much more that money. A man who could now walk because of the healing power of Jesus Christ.
Children can really relate to expressing excitement in the same way that this man did. He praised God while walking and jumping in front of everyone. Of course we had to practice this for a while in our class this past Sunday.
We also used our feet to express praise. First, we wrote “Praise God” on the centre of a piece of paper. Then we used our toes to paint.
It was messy. It was joyful. And it allowed the children to relate to the feelings the man had and to express praise with even the most humble of instruments…toes.
Oh, for this exuberance in accepting God’s power in my life!
But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold, but I do have something else I can give you: By the power of Jesus Christ from Nazareth—stand up and walk!”
Then Peter took the man’s right hand and lifted him up. Immediately the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped up, stood on his feet, and began to walk. He went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping, and praising God.
All the people recognized him. They knew he was the crippled man who always sat by the Beautiful Gate begging for money. Now they saw this same man walking and praising God. The people were amazed. They could not understand how this could happen.
Those last few words can remain long in our memory. They draw everything together and mark the people and event as unique and special to this particular place and time. Imagine spending an evening with our friends in their home only to realise that they had gone to bed and left us on our own without saying goodbye. This would probably make us feel awkward and abandoned.
One of Paul’s Goodbyes
As Paul traveled and shared the Gospel he had to say goodbye many times. These were often emotional occasions with tears, encouragement and even words of warning or advice. Here is one example:
We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went on board and set sail.After sighting Cyprus and passing to the south of it, we sailed on to Syria. We landed at Tyre, where our ship was to unload its cargo.We sought out the disciples there and stayed with them seven days. Through the Spirit they urged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.When it was time to leave, we left and continued on our way. All of them, including wives and children, accompanied us out of the city, and there on the beach we knelt to pray.After saying goodbye to each other, we went aboard the ship, and they returned home. Acts 21:2-6 NIV
How do children feel when they leave our Bible Classes?
When a child leaves Bible Class is he or she a ship full of fresh provisions being warmly fare-welled from a safe and friendly port? Or are the children drifting off toward open sea while the busy people back on shore seem to barely notice they have gone?
Take the time to draw everything together at the end of your teaching time. Solidify what you have taught, let the children know you are glad they came and give them courage to go out and put into practice the things God has moved them to do.
There is something unassuming about a simple stick figure. It is not a great work of art. It does not have moving parts nor is it usually animated.
Yet, at a camp last week some student teachers used stick figures to illustrate a Bible story for kids. The kids were enthralled.
Why was that?
Kids are constantly stimulated by all sorts of colourful graphics on T.V., laptops and tablets. What was it that they found so interesting about these simple figures?
Personally, I think that the unassuming imperfection of a simple stick figure relays a certain genuineness that children can’t help but recognise. By keeping the visual aid simple the teachers communicated the following to the children:
I drew this for you.
I don’t mind if you see me trying and making mistakes. I’m willing to share the “real me” with you.
This story is more important than my inadequacies so I want to share this with you.
God uses me (and you) for good when we put our pride to the side.
Here’s an encouragement for today. Strive to give your best effort when you teach children but remember God can use even our most humble gifts to advance His kingdom.
Read over the event in the Bible and outline the story. In the example above the outline was:
Paul heals the lame man in Lystra
The people of Lystra begin to worship Paul and Barnabas like they were gods
Paul tells them that only God should be worshipped. He is the giver of all gifts. He made everything around them. But the people would not stop worshipping them.
Some angry men from another town came and started saying bad things about Paul and Barnabas. They made the crowd very angry.
The crowd became so angry that they threw stones at Paul until he fell down and they said he was dead.
After the crowd left Paul got up. He and Barnabas left Lystra and continued on to other cities to teach about Jesus.
Divide the paper into sections.
Draw the scenes of the story on each of the sections.
Before class begins cover each of the scenes with paper.
Remove the papers one at a time as you tell the story to the children. (By waiting to reveal pictures one at a time you will help the children maintain a sense of anticipation.)
Draw the pictures as you tell the story. This will require planning ahead and a little practice.
Ask another person to draw as you tell the story. Teenagers or adults could be the guest artist in your class.
Older children can read the story from the Bible together with you and outline it. They could then plan out the scenes and draw them themselves.
Instead of a number of scenes choose one scene and draw it together as a group.
Use other mediums besides paper and markers:
Paints or chalk pastels
Sidewalk chalk on the sidewalk, footpath or concrete
Sharpie pens or any number of purchased products made to write temporarily on glass. The teacher or children can write on a window pane. (You will want to test this first to make sure it cleans up well with window cleaner).
(for outside) Use a stick and draw in the sand.
Extra Help for Drawing Stick Figures:
Here are a few helpful instructional videos I have found online.
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.