This is an excerpt from The Gospel Project for Adults Bible Study from LifeWay. The Gospel Project is an ongoing 13-week Bible study curriculum for all age groups that helps people see Scripture as one over-arching story that points to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. Find out more and download one month to review free at www.gospelproject.com.
I fondly remember the days when my son Gideon, now 15 months old, would quietly sit in my lap and listen as my husband or I read a chapter or two of the Bible to him. With mobility came distractibility, and I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes throw in the towel with dismay after a couple of verses when Gideon takes off running.
As a mom, preschool Sunday School teacher, and LifeWay editor, Psalm 78:1-8 is my “mission statement” or life psalm. The psalm instructs the Israelites to teach their children the praises of the Lord, “His might, and the wonderful works He has performed … so that a future generation—-children yet to be born—-might know.” Those children will teach their own children to put their confidence in God. It’s a huge responsibility and calling and certainly not always easy. Some days in Sunday School, despite how much I’ve prepared a session, the wheels fall off the proverbial bus and all I can do is recite the key passage over and over as I change diapers for my 2-year-olds. “Lord, you know my heart and what I had planned to say. Let some of it plant seeds!” I pray, dropping the next diaper in the pail.
Little Kids Will Listen
One Saturday, I was practicing my Bible story for Sunday as Gideon ate his lunch. I had told that story a million times: Adam and Eve’s first sin. I was reading it aloud. When I got to the part where the serpent appears, I said to Gideon in my snakiest voice, “Did God really ssssssay you can’t eat from any tree in the garden, sssss?” Gideon stopped using his sippy cup to squash his goldfish and looked at me, smiling. I continued telling the story, using different voices for Eve and Adam. When God Himself asks Adam, “Where are you?” I covered my face with my hand towel, as Gideon loves to do when we play hide-and-seek. Gideon laughed and grabbed the towel, pulling it away from my face. “You’re right, smart boy! We can’t hide from God!”
I used gestures to cover myself with fig leaves and pointed as I passed the buck from Adam to Eve to the serpent. Gideon was actively listening. His eyes watched my every expression, my every movement. He listened to the whole story! The following day, I used the same expressions and voices in 2-year-old Sunday School. Success! I still had to be flexible (and pause to redirect the attention of a few kids to the story), but I told the lesson in a fun, memorable way. Since I had practiced with Gideon, I felt prepared and confident.
Bigger Kids Will Listen
Much of the Gospel Project for Kids focuses on the Bible story or video and the role of you, the leader, as a storyteller. You can read the Bible story provided, or you can put it in your own words. While the kids you teach may be too old for hide-and-seek, you can use other ways to keep them engaged such as facial expressions, expressive voices, and hand gestures. Dressing up is a treat, too.
Love the Bible Story . . . Love the Kids
Here are some other tips.
- Be prepared. Familiarize yourself with the story. The more you have a handle on what you’re going to teach, the more confidently you will convey it.
- Keep your Bible open on your lap as you teach—-even if the script lies in your Bible. Remind kids each week that the Bible is a special book of true stories about God.
- Be flexible. Depending upon the ages and skill level of the kids in your class, you might need to choose a Bible story to suit their needs.
- Rehash bite-sized chunks of the Bible story during small group activities. Small group is also a great place to answer questions kids may have.
- Be joyful. By telling Bible stories, you are teaching kids about God’s love for them and His plan to save them through His Son, Jesus Christ. What you’re telling is good news. Tell it with a glad heart! Sure, I would probably look a little silly acting out a Bible story for adults the way I told it to Gideon or my class of 2-year-olds. But I don’t mind looking a little silly, if it means God’s wonderful gospel reaches the kids in a way they will listen and remember.