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Bible studying in Sunday School May 1, 2007

Posted by David in Bible, Children, Childrens bibles, Childrens ministry, Church School, church-kids, Sunday School.
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Nancy Ammerman ponders the amount of quality bible teaching that children receive in Sunday school, since they leave the service before the sermon and often there is no Sunday school during the school holidays.

Also, when children are in Sunday school, free-thinking teachers rarely ask them to memorize anything, lest they be accused of indoctrination. It seems likely that these children’s reservoir of biblical memory will run dry before they ever have a chance to reach adulthood.

In some churches, this pattern is more a matter of neglect than intent, while in others it reflects a genuine ambivalence about teaching children the Bible. Is all that Bible reading and memorization a good thing? Have those biblical images embedded in our brains made us too accepting of patriarchy, too willing to trust authority, too willing to believe? Perhaps. But I am convinced that it need not be so, that when we commit something to memory, it sinks deep and often resurfaces in surprising ways to meet new situations. Biblical fragments (“knit together in my mother’s womb,” “her price is far above rubies,” “plans for your welfare and not for harm”) happily can grow with us, providing both a touchstone to the past and points of connection to new people and new meanings. We stuff our memories with so many things (lyrics to Sesame Street songs, Santa’s reindeer), why worry about adding the names of the apostles and the words of Psalm 23 to the mix?

But I don’t think that churches and Sunday school teachers can take full responsibility for teaching the children. Clearly parents have a responsibility too. And also, Sunday school teachers often do not get the support that they need from the church leadership. And remember it is the pastor who has had bible school training, not usually the Sunday school volunteer. Perhaps churches should invest in their volunteers by sending them to training courses.

Found via: Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island

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Reading the Bible with Children April 30, 2007

Posted by David in Bible, Children, Childrens bibles, Childrens ministry, Christian, church-kids, Parenting, Sunday School, Youth ministry.
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Christopher at the TaylorWest blog, gives some insights into how he and his wife read the bible with their children:

When we read the Bible together at night with our children, we read from the ESV. Karis, Isaiah, and Gloria all follow along in their Children’s Edition of the ESV. When questions come up about the meaning of the text, I sometimes have to say, “Well, the meaning of the text isn’t that clear. I believe this is what the author meant, but others take it differently. They think it say this.”

It is tempting to interpret a verse for a child, rather than encouraging them to understand it. But they may not understand it at their age in any case, because they will need more life experience. He further explains their position:

I think this demonstration of humility before the text instils greater trust in the text than if I were to simply say, “This is what the text means.” Especially since later on as they grow in their understanding of the text, they may find that my interpretation was not at all what the text said or meant.

Found via: ESV Bible Blog


Previously: Bible versions for children

Using maps at Sunday school February 14, 2007

Posted by David in Bible, Children, Childrens bibles, Church School, church-kids, Sunday School.
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Maps are a great way to start a discussion with children in Sunday school and I have just discovered a website which uses google maps to map the location of places in the bible.

The website is called Bible Map and each mention of a place is hyperlinked to the satellite map. It is not complete, but it contains some fascinating information.

All I need now is wireless broadband at church so that I can share this with the kids in my Sunday school class!

Found via: NMBC Bible Fellowships

Bible versions for children February 4, 2007

Posted by David in Bible, Childrens bibles, Christian, Church, Church School, church-kids, Faith, Religion, Sunday School.
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Which bible version should you choose for your Sunday school class?

  • Should you use the version that the adults use, and explain any difficult terms, no matter how disruptive this may be?
  • Or do you use a junior version, such as a specialist children’s bible?

At home, my six year old has a special children’s bible that I read from that he knows is his. He is still too young to tackle dense biblical prose as yet so I tend to do the reading, which he enjoys. When I was a little older than him, I had a Good News Bible, which I is still popular for children.

But for Sunday school, I have been copying and pasting verses from an online bible into self-created worksheets for the kids on Sunday. This way I can change difficult words, and make the typeface or font large enough and spaced out enough to make it easier for the children to read. Also splitting it into chunks, so the children share the reading.

But someone said to me that I should encourage the children to search and read directly from the bible and this got me thinking, as I can see that this is a valid point.

What do other people do, or is it really a case of considering the age-group that you work with?