I could write more about the teaching material choices available in the UK, but I shan't (= limited) and I have bought/used/tried/tested them all. I have written my own for short series but what I am about to write about now is, I feel, a real area of concern.
We repeat ourselves.
Forgive me for this next statement (and it is the title of a seminar I am doing in the future) but telling stories is just not enough. It's not going to build life-long followers of Jesus. I don't mean to single out one provider; I can honestly tell you I have audited a lot of material for my past studies.
Here in the UK we teach children, in the main, about these things:-
* Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Samuel
* sometimes Elijah (but not for the last few years!!)
* Jesus birth
* Jesus stories; his interaction with people (preferably not out of John)
* Jesus death and resurrection
* Spreading the news - the growth of the early church
These are good, good stories.
I do have a concern, though, that in the TWELVE years of church activities, we do not, at the very least, open up a whole spectrum of Scripture to children. I remember a class discussion at bible college about 4 years ago about how some parts of Scripture may not be suitable for children with challenging behaviour perhaps (!??)
Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it
Some things I have been pondering. Why can't we teach.........
- a bit more from the Pentateuch. Covenant is usally solidly covered but I think there is a lot more to be unpacked on the Law which would assist children to understand the uniqueness of the New Covenant more fully.
- is the intimacy of the lover's call to the beloved to draw close not relevant for children learning about the tender love of a heavenly Father? (Song of Songs)
- are the lessons from the evil kings not worth looking at alongside the fear of the Lord that governed the good kings? (Kings/Chronicles)
- One or more psalms might be covered but what about a study of Proverbs? This throws up some great practical advice and lessons on what our own hearts can be like.
- the faithfulness and perseverance of Nehemiah in rebuilding the temple
- Job; for lessons about hard times and the dynamic breaking-in of revelation of the goodness of God who can more than repay
- and oh, oh, oh - the incredible prophetic outpourings which speak to a people in exile, a people who need to return wholeheartedly to the one who has never stopped loving them. I have only ever seen little bits of Isaiah in children's teaching material as it refers to Jesus and very little about the breakdown of the nation of Israel in her rebellion and unfaithfulness and the Lord's response to this. And yet the incredible promises of what was to come in the New Covenant; the new heart of flesh, the coming of the Spirit for all and not just for some, the river of God flowing out, the dreams and visions to come; the time of holding fast and persevering.
I could go on and on .........in 6 years of children and family pastoring there has been very little from the pastoral epistles. Isn't Timothy so relevant to young people? I'm desperate to teach Romans to children. I do a little bit on justification and sanctification with children/family discipleship, so I personally have unpacked a little of Ephesians with children outside of a Sunday morning. I have never seen James in children's teaching material; nor Hebrews. I am sure someone somewhere has - please do post in the comments section with your thoughts or observations on this. But the main UK providers *do* stick to the stories I mentioned earlier.
End times - have you seen any teaching on this? I have yet to see any children's resources that touches Revelation. I can feel some teaching bubbling up in me on:
1. "to the overcomers"
2. "having a heavenly viewpoint"
3. "praise and glory, wisdom and thanks to the Lamb - throne room praise"
::::::::need to gloss over creatures and horns/eyes/flying scrolls - bit too hard for me! :::::::::::::
4. "heaven - joy forever".
I have honestly witnessed children rolling their eyes and saying "not Moses AGAIN!" and while I recognise that the word of God has power and is to be honoured, a part of me has sympathy because I know of the variety and richness within that Word, which points again and again and again to a loving, faithful God who persues human beings to the point where it cost him everything!
Have had a bit of a rant there - please do comment on stuff you have used (the USA has a little bit of a wider spread, perhaps because of denominational differences) or to vociferously agree or disagree.