Thanks for all the comments on the last post and the emails and phone calls that I have received. Seems like some pastors sent people to read this post :-)
I guess I wanted to add briefly that loads of people are telling stories from lesser-read places in the Bible and that's immense. Great news and go for it! The challenge is: the application. I am presenting a seminar that might on first glance sound a little controversial. It's on why telling stories is not enough. (Bear with me!)
I read a seminal book at Bible college on allowing the Holy Spirit to influence one's preaching (by the wonderfully named "Zuck"). Yet why is it with children, some "lessons" always seem to have the same teaching point - so a few weeks ago SU's Xstream material examine Acts 16 v 16 onwards - Paul and Silas in jail, how did they get out, what happened to the jailer and his family etc. Great stuff. Brilliant, inspiring story.
But what got them put in jail? v 16 onwards was in the childrens' readings/leaders notes, indicating to me that the SU writer didn't want us to overlook that.
A woman under the influence of a demon was delivered! Paul and Silas were fulfilling Jesus manifesto from Luke 4 - this is THE key point in the story to me!! They did as He did, and what He did demonstrated the Kingdom, and where we are the Kingdom is as He lives in us. And when they rebuked the evil spirit........they incurred the wrath of the religious authorities. Could it just be possible that we teach children to:
(a) ignore the miraculous?
(b) defer to our experience and expectation?
(c) not teach kingdom theology which isn't just a matter or words but of power?
(d) not relate Scripture to everyday experience?
And so I found the Holy Spirit whispering to me to talk to the children about occult practices and also about the power of God to deliver people out of the enemy's hands. I showed the Bible story itself from the Visual Bible on DVD and it shows what happened very well when she was set free, in my experience. I particularly liked how the servant girl was part of the gathered church in a later shot :-)
I then led into a discussion with the children (older ones, P6s and 7s) as to what happened; eliciting their responses: what did she look like before? what change could they see in her face and expressions after she had been delivered? Was it a complicated process? Why were the religious authorities so angry about what happened? What lessons are there for us in this story?
Every day in UK schools vulnerable children are told about/encouraged in or actually practise: reading horoscopes/palm reading/throwing runes/ouija/fortune telling etc
How will they know this is wrong if Christian parents/influencers do not tell them?
So, in your preparations: - ask the Holy Spirit: what would He have you draw out from the Scriptures tomorrow? Has it breathed life into you as you prepare? Holy Spirit, what is the application you want me to bring to THIS group of children?
I am truly sorry for the times when I have not allowed your word to do that.