Teach Children the Bible Is Not About Them

Here’s a great article from Sally Lloyd-Jones looking at how we should teach our children about God through how we teach the Bible.  Check it out at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/21/teach-children-the-bible-is-not-about-them/

 “When I go into churches and speak to children I ask them two questions:

First, How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.

And second, How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you? They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible stories and probably all the right answers, and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.

They have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was.

As a child, even though I was a Christian, I grew up thinking the Bible was filled with rules you had to keep (or God wouldn’t love you) and with heroes setting examples you had to follow (or God wouldn’t love you).

I tried to be good. I really did. I was quite good at being good. But however hard I tried, I couldn’t keep the rules all the times so I knew God must not be pleased with me.

And I certainly couldn’t ever be as brave as Daniel. I remember being tormented by that Sunday school chorus “Dare to Be a Daniel” because, hard as I tried to imagine myself daring to be a Daniel, being thrown to lions and not minding . . . who was I kidding? I knew I’d be terrified out of my skull.

How could God ever love me?

I was sure he couldn’t because I wasn’t doing it right.

Breaking Spells

One Sunday, not long ago, I was reading the story of “Daniel and the Scary Sleepover” from The Jesus Storybook Bible to some 6-year-olds during a Sunday school lesson. One little girl in particular was sitting so close to me she was almost in my lap. Her face was bright and eager as she listened to the story, utterly captivated. She could hardly keep on the ground and kept kneeling up to get closer to the story.

At the end of the story there were no other teachers around, and I panicked and went into automatic pilot and heard myself—to my horror—asking, “And so what can we learn from Daniel about how God wants us to live?”

And as I said those words it was as if I had literally laid a huge load on that little girl. Like I broke some spell. She crumpled right in front of me, physically slumping and bowing her head. I will never forget it.

It is a picture of what happens to a child when we turn a story into a moral lesson.

When we drill a Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it all about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done!

When we tie up the story in a nice neat little package, and answer all the questions, we leave no room for mystery. Or discovery. We leave no room for the child. No room for God.

And that’s why I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible. So children could know what I didn’t:

1. That the Bible isn’t mainly about me, and what I should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done.

2. That the Bible is most of all a story—the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.

3. That—in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him—God won’t ever stop loving his children . . . with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

4. That the Bible, in short, is a Story—not a Rule Book—and there is only one Hero in the Story.

I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible so children could meet the Hero in its pages. And become part of His Magnificent Story.

Because rules don’t change you.

But a Story—God’s Story—can.

**********

Editors’ Note: The new Jesus Storybook Bible Curriculum by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Sam Shammas contains 44 lessons revealing how Jesus is the center of each Bible story and how every story whispers his name. It includes activities, notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, handouts for children, a hardcover copy of The Jesus Storybook Bible, and three audio CDs containing David Suchet’s reading.”

An Interview with Keith and Kristyn Getty: Part 3

Baptist Press: “What role do hymns play in teaching theology?”

Keith Getty: “We learn through many different things. Scripture is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, and 20 percent of it is poetry. So, immediately, you have to look at it and ask, “On what levels do we learn?” So if you’re asking us, should hymns be used as expositional Bible teaching? No, they shouldn’t be. They’re pieces of art. A song with a great lyric and a bad melody is an awful song. The point is that your soul and your emotions are engaged with others around you to sing. It is a piece of art like poetry is a piece of art. It’s creating a picture, it’s creating an illustration.”

Kristyn Getty: “And no song can tell the whole story. We try to structure a song in such a way that it tells a story or carries a thought in some sort of coherent pattern through a song, as opposed to several different phrases put together that are all true, and of course you can sing them in that way. But we enjoy being able to take a theme — like “Joy Has Dawned,” which tells the Christmas story — and follow that right through as to what it means. You can probably find many passages in Scripture which tie to the various lines in that song. One time we did the song called “By Faith,” and I tried to put an entire chapter of Hebrews 11 into the song. And they were saying, “You’re going to give the congregation a headache if you make them sing that. Let’s try to stand back from this a little. What’s the whole movement of the passage saying?” You only have three minutes to sing it, and it’s not necessarily the place for me to have people cite Hebrews 11. There’s more creative ways of getting the main points across. There will be points that we miss, but then we’ll write another song about it. There’s always something to write about.”

Interview by Michael Foust
Complements of: http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=36478

Contextualizing on the Mission Field

“My wife and I were missionaries in Papua New Guinea where we spent two years learning the Myu language and culture before teaching the scriptures and presenting the gospel. Our culture studies were so we could properly understand how they would hear what we taught.

Rather than changing the scriptures we took time to teach about sheep and shepherding and other Old and New Testament practices. One of the ways we did this was during our literacy program. The Myu language had never been learned by an outsider or written down prior to our arrival. Along with teaching and translating the scriptures was a priority to teach the adults and children how to read and write their own language.

In one of our primers we focused on the main biblical cultural topics that would come up in our gospel teaching. We showed them pictures of sheep and pictures of ourselves in the snow back home in Upper Michigan. They did not have words in their language for sheep or snow so we used the common trade language (Melanesian English) words for them. The isolated Myu people are very intelligent and had no trouble understanding foreign biblical culture when it was properly explained.

It would be dangerous to try to find a Myu cultural equivalent to replace the biblical account because none of them are exact representations of scripture. And the Myu Bible teachers are now able to articulate biblical culture in teaching the culture rather than coming up with some local example that falls short. Once you localize the scriptures you would be stuck trying to find “equivalents” that would constantly fall short. This is very dangerous.

There is absolutely no need to change the inspired word of God. It is no different than how we are to teach here at home. Explain the biblical culture so we can truly understand God’s intended meaning. For “All scripture (graphe, written biblical text) is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness…” (2 Tim. 3:16).”

-Tim Spanton, former missionary in Papua New Guinea, as quoted by Travis Allen at: http://www.gty.org/blog/B111007

Don’t Be a Self-Appointed Sheriff with a Plastic Badge

“What is the call to ministry?

It is becoming popular these days in certain circles to become bolder in claiming that God audibly called you to the ministry. Being from South Africa, I am often curious as to which English accent God employs. From the aggregate location of the claims, I’m guessing it’s North West Coast American. (If you are curious about my views on these claims, readHeaven is for Real, Well Duh.)

Other than from my distracted guidance counselor in high school I’ve never personally heard an audible voice telling me what to do with my life. I merely have the inspired word of God with all things pertaining to life and godliness in it to help me determine if I’m called to teach. So for those of you who don’t have the red telephone some claim to use, I hope you find this helpful.

There are four widely recognized aspects to the biblical call to a teaching ministry in the church.”

Read Clint Archer’s post at:

http://thecripplegate.com/are-you-a-sheriff-with-a-plastic-badge-the-call-to-teach/