Recently, in a conversation with some veteran teachers of children, we began to discuss what we were teaching in our various classes. All too quickly the conversation turned to a discussion of curriculum, materials, and methods that we were using to minister effectively to the children. I left the conversation realizing that we had erred by spending little time discussing the true content of our lessons: the Bible itself.
Curriculum and teaching materials are wonderful! Many of us would be hard pressed to walk into a class. room of children or adults unless we were armed with a detailed lesson plan and curriculum guide. Curriculum helps us develop a plan to teach the whole of Scripture in a specified period of time. Curriculum helps us be doctrinally consistent. Curriculum also gives us numerous ways to communicate the precious truth of the Scripture in creative, age appropriate ways. However, curriculum should never be a substitute for the Word of God in our preparation or in our presentation. How can we be sure that the lessons we present to our students truly press home biblical content?
The first suggestion is obvious but sometimes overlooked. If we want to teach the Bible, we must use the Bible to prepare. Saturday night comes all too quickly each week. Preparation left until Saturday night is preparation that is dependent on a curriculum manual! Propose to begin studying early in the week. Read the Scripture passage for your lesson (and its context) several times, perhaps in different versions. Read it daily. Pray that the Holy Spirit will put you in situations and circumstances throughout the week where the truths in the Scripture passage will be applied to your own life. You will be amazed at the practical applications you will have to share with your class!
Second, during the class time, read the Scripture to your students directly from the Bible. Even the youngest child needs to understand that the Bible is a special book, one that is to be listened to attentively and reverently. Teach your lesson with your Bible open and refer to it often. Students need to know that the time spent in class is not a time when they come to hear the teacher’s thoughts or opinions, but a time when all in attendance are being taught the life changing truths of the Scripture. Encourage students to bring their own Bibles to class or have a supply of class Bibles. Have students themselves read from the Bible in class. Ask students to respond to the questions that the Scripture passage asks or ask students for practical ways to apply the Scripture to their own lives. Devise a way for class members to read or study particular passages of Scripture at home. Encourage Scripture memory.
During our class times, what are we really teaching? As I have taught in the church, I have become convinced that we are teaching two things: the Word of God and a way of life. The two go hand in hand. As we are more diligent in studying the Scripture, we should also be more diligent in applying it to our own lives. Your life lived in front of your students will be an unwritten testimony to the power of the Word of God. Set the example of a life yielded to the study and application of God’s Word. By the power of the Holy Spirit, your teaching will take on new meaning and you will see increased fruit for your labors.
Priscilla Stewart is a regional Teacher Trainer for the Christian Education/Publications (CE/P) department of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).