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.

How To Be a Better Teacher

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No one is a PERFECT teacher!

But everyone can be a BETTER teacher.

Here are some ways to improve:

  1. Pray!  
    You will not be able to improve without God’s wisdom and help.
  2. Read the bible!  
    It doesn’t matter how good your teaching methods are if you are not accurately teaching the Word of God.
  3. Talk to children.
    Find out what they like to do in school.  Ask them how they like to learn.
    Tips on Talking to Children.
  4. Observe other teachers.  
    You will learn new things and find out which methods you would like to use and which methods would not.  Even the most experienced teacher can be energised by observing someone else teach.
  5. Read books and articles about teaching.  
    You will find books at the library, good Christian book stores, websites or Pinterest.  Ask other teachers what books they would recommend.
    Learn to discern.  Not every book in the library or every article on the internet is good. If you are not sure about something ask someone who is a mature Christian to help you understand.
  6. Try something new.
    If you do something the same way every time you will become even more bored than the children. Teaching Ideas Here.
  7. Practice!  
    You will never improve if you don’t give it a try.
  8. Spend extra time in preparation.
    If you are always preparing at the last minute then you will not improve.
    Step-By-Step Instructions here.
  9. Write a lesson plan.
    Taking the time to write it out often clarifies your thoughts and gives your class more focus.  And looking back at some of your previous lesson plans will often spark new ideas.  Try these Lesson Plan Templates
  10. Reflect on your teaching.
    As a teacher you will probably learn more than the children do!  After class take the time to think about what happened in your class.  If I teach on Sunday morning I often spend a little time Sunday evening reflecting.  What went well?  What would you do differently next time?  Teacher Reflection Template  Another way to do this is to ask someone to watch you teach and give you feedback.

I hope you will always try to improve as a teacher.   God bless you as you teach!

better-bible-teacher

How to Talk to a Child

To some of us, having a conversation with a child seems like a natural and simple thing to do.  To others it is awkward and even a little intimidating at first.  Here are some simple tips to help you along the way.

Try this:

  • Get on the child’s level and maintain direct eye contact.  This may mean you need to get on your knees, squat down or sit in a chair.
  • Listen attentively (in the same way you would like to be listened to).
  • Talk about things you have in common (freckles, dark hair, taste in food, number of siblings).
  • Ask the child for his or her opinion on a topic.
  • Compliment the child’s actions and choices and not just how the child looks or dresses.
  • Say the child’s name often.

Avoid this:

  • Do not use “baby talk”.
  • Do not rush the child but listen patiently.
  • Do not make everything a lesson or lecture.  Just enjoy getting to know the child better.
  • Do not force conversation when a child is not in the mood to talk.

Easy Conversation Starters:

  • Of all colours, my favourite colour is purple.  What is your favourite colour?
  • When I was your age I used to hunt for lizards (or whatever you liked to do).  Can you guess where I used to find them?
  • I like to read stories about Jesus in the bible.  Who do you like to learn about?
  • Could you teach me how to play that game (or sing that song, or draw a picture like that…)?
  • You seem so big now.  I remember when you were too little to tie your shoes (or skip or read).
  • Which game do you like better… “Hide ‘n Seek” or “Snakes and Ladders”?

Jesus Blessed Children

In the story Jesus Blesses the Children (Mark 10:13-16) we learn how Jesus interacted with children. When his disciples tried to keep children from him he became indignant.

In fact, Jesus turned the situation around completely by telling the disciples that they must receive the kingdom of God like little children or not enter it at all.  Then Jesus took the children in his arms and blessed them.

Get to know children.  They can teach us something about what we need to know to receive God’s Kingdom.