Our special guest blogger is Christian children's author Patti B. Ogden. Patti wrote Keoni's Big Question--which we reviewed here.
In this book, Keoni is searching for the answer to his question about God, and no one seems to be able to answer it. Then one day while on a fishing trip, Keoni works up the courage to ask his friend the Old Fisherman, and Keoni finds his question answered in more ways than he ever dreamed of.
One of the best things about Keoni's Big Question, is that it breaks down a difficult concept for youngsters and makes it easy to understand. An experienced Sunday school teacher, Patti shares with us how to teach children about the Bible without being too preacy or heavy-handed.
The Challenge to Teach Children about the Bible without Being Preachy or Heavy-Handed by Patti B. Ogden
Three bullets were carefully placed in the middle of the table. A red construction paper heart beside them, with three jagged edged holes ripped through it. The teenagers that entered my Sunday school class that day came in cautiously - obviously wondering what such a display would have to do with a lesson that they were supposed to learn about the Bible or the Lord Jesus. Each sat down in quiet dismay, giving me looks as if to say…”what in the world is going on?”
My extreme display was approved by the deacon (he said as long as they don’t accompany a gun I would be fine). And it brought the sober reaction I needed to catch the kids off guard. I definitely had their undivided attention.
What they didn’t know is what had happened to me the week before. Having suffered the cruelest verbal attack of my life - from a dear person that I love deeply but who couldn’t understand my belief in God- I experienced a battle within that had my emotions reeling and reaching for comfort and understanding. I sensed that what I went through that week may just be a thimble full of what today’s Christian teens experience in today’s toxic anything-goes society. I wanted to teach them how to deal with such attacks and how to come to terms with the raging hurt within.
We began with scripture that showed the humiliation that Christ suffered. Then we covered stories of persecution that believers had to endure because they “took up the cross and followed Him”. The kids took turns reading through the comfort passages of how the Lord loves His children and is a shield, a fortress and an ever present comfort in our despair. We ended with scripture that taught us never to seek revenge, for that is up to God. After all, Jesus still had mercy and kindness for the soldier that arrested him and led him to trial. Peter cut off his ear in a fit of rage and Jesus reached out and healed it. The meek will truly inherit the earth.
By the time the class was complete, I knew the lesson had made its impact. It hit right where they live. They opened up about their own experiences and found comfort that God completely understands what they go through. By finding common ground with others that have “been there” and then offering Biblical solutions, children can be comfortable with Christian teaching. Teaching that inspires and encourages spiritual growth is not preachy or heavy-handed. It leaves kids with a desire to come back to hear more.