Years ago I taught a Bible story to a group of children and we began to discuss the concept of kindness. I wanted the children to understand what kindness really was and how they could practice kindness.
One young boy excitedly gave example after example of ways to show kindness. “We could take food to someone who was hungry.” “Carrying groceries for an elderly person at the grocery store would be kindness.” “We could say kind words.”
After he listed a few examples of kindness I asked, “And how could you show kindness to your sister?
There was a long pause and then, with a horrified expression on his face, he asked, “You mean, this counts at home, too?”
If ever there was an example of “the truth hit home” then this was one!
We must share the Bible with children. There is nothing that we could say that would have more eternal impact than the words God speaks. But we cannot be satisfied with only conveying a set of facts or teaching memory verses. God’s word is meant to be lived! Children need to learn and understand ways to live out the things they have learnt in every part of their lives.
One helpful way to help children explore ways to live out their faith is to use a simple method I call Things Matter. Simple items (things) from around your house can be used to draw out conversation about everyday applications of God’s Word.
Obey God’s message! Don’t fool yourselves by just listening to it. If you hear the message and don’t obey it, you are like people who stare at themselves in a mirror and forget what they look like as soon as they leave. But you must never stop looking at the perfect law that sets you free. God will bless you in everything you do, if you listen and obey, and don’t just hear and forget. James 1:22-25, CEV
I thought I’d finish off 2014 by posting a simple game to use as a review in Bible Class.
Well, at least I assumed it would be simple!
A woman named Debbie (Arizona, USA) emailed me awhile back with the suggestion of adapting an “X and O” game into a review activity for Bible Class. Children list words and ideas and then play a game similar to “tic-tac-toe” or “noughts and crosses”. The example in the picture above is from the Bible lesson Conquering the Land and Fighting Giants.
It turns out that many of us play the game but we know it by different names. That’s why I stuck with the simple title of “X and O Review Game“. Here are some of the other names listed by Wikipedia:
Tick-tack-toe, Tic-tac-toe, Tick-tat-toe, or Tit-tat-toe (USA, Canada)
Noughts and crosses or Naughts and crosses (United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)
Exy-Ozys, Xsie-Osies (verbal name only) (Northern Ireland)
Xs and Os (Egypt, Republic of Ireland, Canada, Zimbabwe, Romania)
Older Than You Think
I was amazed to find out that In fact, 1st Century Romans played a version of this game that was very similar to what we play today! So this game has been played since the time of Christ.
Same Same but Different
As my Thai friends say, “same-same but different”. God’s Word does not change but it is shared in different languages and and by various methods that fit the culture and understanding of the hearer. You know the needs of the children you are teaching. I’m hoping you are reading the ideas on www.missionbibleclass.org and then adapting them to your own teaching situation and language.
If a simple and inconsequential game of “X and O” can still be played and enjoyed by adults and children century after century then how much more lasting is the Word of God for all people for all time?
I have to be honest, Halloween is not exactly my favourite holiday. But one thing I really like about it is what happens afterwards. After the big rush (and sometimes even before) there are all sorts of skeletons on sale!
Why is this a good thing, you might ask? Why would I need to stock up on skeletons and stow them away in my closet?
I love to tell this story of hope. This vision has the vital elements needed for a dramatic story. The kids love the “creepy” image of dry bones lying all over a valley. They can relate to how Ezekiel must have felt when the bones began rattling and coming together. Tendons and flesh formed on them and finally God breathed his spirit into them. If Ezekiel was hopeless because his people were in captivity he could finally understand how God had the power to bring a nation back to life.
Teaching Items in Post-Holiday Sales Bins
As a teacher I am always on the lookout for items that will help me share God’s Word in ways children can best relate to. No one has to spend a lot of money or buy new things to teach children about God. But if you live in a place where after-holiday sales provide extremely cheap items then this may be a great opportunity. What are the holidays where you live?
Creche and manger scenes (angels, wise men, animals, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the manger itself), pictures of Jesus as a baby, stars and spices like the wise men brought. The obvious uses are for stories such as The Birth of Jesus and Wise Men and a Star.
And I like to have a few plastic eggs on hand throughout the year so I can put verses or pictures inside and let the children hunt for them. They are also great for telling the story of death, burial and resurrection of Jesus with Resurrection Eggs.
I was recently entertaining some children at a church in Texas while their parents were in a meeting. We were playing a game where picture cards were passed out. Some of the children began to complain that the cards they had been dealt were not as good as the ones the other children had received. One child even reached out and took what he considered a “better” card away from a smaller child.
Just as I was about to sit everyone down for a little lecture about fair play and kindness one of the younger children stopped everyone in their tracks by piping up with the perfect reminder in a very thick Texas accent, “You ‘git’ what you ‘git’ so don’t throw a fit.”
Oh, how we all need to be reminded to be content with what we have! I later learned about a children’s book with the title “You Get What You Get” but an even earlier source might be something Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-12…
…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
This is certainly not just a lesson for children. How often do we say things like:
If only I had a classroom I could be a good teacher.
I wish those other people would start teaching.
Why don’t my church leaders ever thank me?
What! Only one child came today? Why can’t I have a big class like that other church?
It is a lesson for me. “I ‘git’ what I ‘git’ so I won’t throw a fit!”
Helping Children Understand Contentment
Contentment has long been something that has eluded mankind. The Israelites certainly dealt with this after they left the “comforts” of Egypt and followed Moses into the wilderness.
In teaching the story of the Bronze Snake on a Pole I love to help the children role-play various situations where they must be content with what they have. My favourite scenario is a birthday party. We pretend that we are at a birthday party opening presents. I take the first turn and act out being “discontent” by pretending to open a gift from my grandmother and saying “Oh, no! I didn’t want the doll with the PINK dress. I wanted the one with the PURPLE dress.” (I lose all pride when I teach so I add a lot of drama. The children love it.)
We then discuss how the grandmother might feel. I carry on the discussion talking about how some little girls might not even have a birthday gift. After discussing this I act out the scene again modelling contentment and thanking my grandmother for the gift. Usually all of the children want to take a turn at being the one opening a gift.
It is my prayer that the children I teach will learn to apply this lesson of contentment to other life situations just as the little boy I told you about. This is such an important life lesson. No matter where they go and what they do in life the children will “git what they git”.