I want to suggest that too often Bible classes are busy teaching what I term as the “Be Nice” concepts. What that refers to is teaching children to be nice, to share, take turns, don’t hurt others, and so on. Billy was being a bully to Sam on the playground. Susie told a lie to her mother. Should children learn those concepts of practical right and wrong? Of course they should, but are those concepts alone the focus of Bible class? I would suggest that children are learning those same concepts from most parents whether they are Christians or not. They are learning them from school, scouting, and a host of other community or civic groups. I would suggest that we use Bible class as a time to teach Bible. Those same concepts can be taught within the stories of the great Bible heroes, the life of Jesus, and the church.
While most every child has exposure to the “Be Nice” concepts in school or elsewhere, far fewer children are having the Bible taught to them. There are children who will never know about Jesus, His church, great Bible heroes, or Bible verses if you don’t teach them! Our Bible class time is limited as it is, so why aren’t we filling their little heads with as much Bible content as we possibly can?
Here’s my nugget of wisdom for today. “If you teach it, they will learn it.” It’s just that simple! Never underestimate what the children will learn. Do not “dumb-down” or “water-down” the content that you are teaching. Not only should we not be watering it down, but why not “bump it up a notch”. For example, when you are telling a three year old the story of baby Moses, instead of talking about Moses mother or father, why not use the names Jochabed & Amram? The more exposure children have to Bible characters, the more familiar and comfortable it will be for them.
Let’s compare what public schools expect from children and then what we do at church sometimes. At school, kids are expected to read by the end of kindergarten. Think of all the skills necessary in learning to read. They say the ABC’s. They recognize what each letter looks like. They know the sound that each letter makes. They know a vowel from a consonant. They put the letters together to make sounds and then even process all that into spelling the words. If kids can do all of that by the age of 5 or 6, why do we not expect so much more in our Bible class programs? Why do we give them a watered down story, a coloring sheet and call it good? Why do we spend so much time teaching them what I call the “BE NICE” concepts and not the content of God’s word? I think we sometimes think that if we expect too much, that it will turn them off or be “too much” for them. Is that the way schools are thinking? Of course not! I would suggest that many more children will enjoy being challenged and feeling like they have accomplished great things!
Hosea 4:6 tells us that the people were “destroyed for a lack of knowledge”. Biblical illiteracy is rampant in the world and sad to say even in the church today. As Bible class teachers, we can change that! It’s up to us to know just how important our role is in training future generations! Don’t settle for less and don’t make your students settle for less. You can do this!