Teach Kids to be Bible Detectives!

I think one of the greatest skills you can teach your class is to study the Bible themselves.

One fun way to teach kids how to study their Bibles is to teach them how to be Bible detectives!

childrens-ministry-bible-detective

Great detectives ask lots of questions and observe carefully. Great Bible detectives ask lots of questions and observe the passage they are studying carefully for clues.

In order to know what types of questions to ask, Bible detectives have to first observe the passage being studied. Is it a narrative or story? Is it teaching like one of the epistles in the New Testament? Is it poetry or wisdom literature?

If the passage is a story, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who are the characters?
  • What is the conflict? What are they doing?
  • When does this story take place?
  • Where does this story take place?
  • Why did they character do what they did? React the way they did?
  • How does the conflict resolve?

If the passage is teaching, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who wrote this passage? Who did they write it to?
  • What is the topic of the passage? What is the argument?
  • When did the author write this?
  • Where was it written?
  • Why did the author write it?
  • How does this passage apply to my life?

If the passage is poetry or wisdom literature, Bible detectives will ask questions like:

  • Who wrote this passage? Who did they write it for?
  • What genre is this passage?
  • When and where is the context for this passage? (ex. Psalm 51 was written after King David sinned )
  • Why did the author write it?
  • How does the style (or genre) inform our understanding? How does this passage apply to my life?

Who

This category of questions is all about people. Who are the people in the story? Some good follow-up questions would be, “What is said about the person or people in this passage?” and “What does the person say?”

  • Who is speaking?
  • Who was there?
  • Who is it about?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • Who wrote this passage?
  • Who is this passage written for?

 What

This category of questions is all about action. What are the main events taking place?

  • What is happening in the passage?
  • What happens to the characters?
  • What does this passage say about God?
  • What caused the trouble or conflict?
  • What is the subject covered in the passage?
  • What do you learn about the people in this passage?
  • What do you learn about the events taking place in this passage?
  • What do you learn from the teaching in this passage?
  • What instructions are given in this passage?
  • What is the argument?
  • What is the writer trying to communicate?
  • What is wrong with this picture?

 When

This category of questions is all about time. Questions are related to when things happen. What year; what time of day, etc? These are key questions in figuring out the order of events.

  • When did it happen?
  • When did it take place?
  • When do or will the events occur?
  • When did or will something happen to a particular person, people, or nation?
  • When did the events occur in relation to other events in Scripture?
  • When was the writer writing?

Where

 This category of questions is about location. Did the story take place in the wilderness; on the sea; in a boat; on a mountain; in Egypt; in Jerusalem?

  • Where did it happen?
  • Where did it take place?
  • Where will this happen?
  • Where was it said?
  • Where was it written?
  • Where are the people in the story?
  • Where are they coming from? Where are they going?
  • Where is the writer?
  • Where were the original readers of this text?

Why

 This category of questions is all about motivation.

  • Why did it happen?
  • Why is something being said?
  • Why would or will this happen?
  • Why at this time?
  • Why this person?
  • Why does this passage follow that passage? Why does this passage precede that passage?
  • Why does this person say that?
  • Why does someone say nothing?

How

 This category of questions is all about the mechanics of a situation and/or the application of a passage.

  • How did it happen?
  • How did lives change?
  • How did the story end?
  • How does this apply to my life?
  • How will it happen?
  • How is it to be done?
  • How is it illustrated?

Here’s an Example

Mark 4:35-41

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”

Who

Who is in this story?

  • Jesus and His disciples (v. 35). We know it’s Jesus by looking a couple of verses earlier in verse 33 (context is really important).

What

 What happens in this story?

  • A storm hits (v. 37) and the disciples in the boat are terrified. Jesus stops the storm (v. 39).

When

 When does this story take place?

  • Evening (v.35)
  • After a day of teaching by the lake (vs. 1-34).

 Where

 Where does this story take place?

  • On the sea (this is inferred since the disciples get into a boat in order to get to the other side).
  • Bible detectives have to go all the way back to the beginning of chapter 4 to discover where this story happens. In verse one we find out that Jesus is teaching by the lake, probably the Sea of Galilee.

 Why

 Why was Jesus able to calm the storm?

  • Because He is the Son of God and has power over nature.

How

 How does this story end?

  • The disciples ask who Jesus is (v.41). The identity of Jesus is key.

Good observation skills and the ability to ask good questions are just the start of becoming Bible detectives. Teach your kids these skills and then give them lots of practice!

Is Sunday School Prep Really That Important?

childrens-ministry-yesThis past Sunday was the last Sunday School before Christmas and the week preceding it was busy! You know how it is – shopping, baking, Christmas concerts, finishing up work before the holidays, and to add another layer of awesomeness, I was sick! I had caught a nasty cold and spent a few days early in the week under a blanket.

I teach a kindergarten-Grade 1 class for Sunday School and the Bible story for that Sunday was the wise men who journeyed far to worship Jesus, the King. As I got out my curriculum to prepare I was reminded just how important preparation is for Sunday School teachers.

The curriculum publisher had chosen a fun, interactive way to tell the familiar story of the wise men seeking Jesus. They had created a game board with cards and activities. It was great! It was also very complicated. There were multiple card packs and pieces and many different activities that had to be done at the right time for the game to work. I also had to consider whether certain activities would work in my classroom (it’s very small!!) and in the time we have in the classroom (30-40 minutes).

If I hadn’t taken the time to prepare for this lesson , it would have been a disaster! Everybody is busy. If you are a Sunday School teacher, take the time during the week to prepare for your lesson. It’s worth it! God will be at work in your heart and in the hearts of your students.

Leading Kids in Worship

Girl twins  with arms raised.I love worship times with kids! It is such a privilege to lead kids in worship and to worship together with kids. But like any Children’s Ministry activity there needs to be a goal. Do you have a goal in mind when you lead kids in worship? I believe that the goal during worship time with kids should be to stir reverence and evoke worship.

Stir Reverence

Reverence is an attitude of deep respect tinged with awe. Another way of saying it would be to excite adoration.

The best way to do this is to focus on God. Focus on big truths about God. Highlight God’s goodness, faithfulness, love, holiness, awesomeness. Show kids that the God we love and serve is a big God worthy of our love and worship. Focusing on who God is allows for response.

But I, by your great love, can come into your house; in reverence I bow down toward your holy temple. Psalm 5:7

 

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12:28-29

 

Evoke Worship

Evoke means to call up. Humans are worshipers. If we are not worshiping God, we will be worshiping something else. To evoke worship then is to call up worth. To worship is to ascribe worth.

Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. Isaiah 25:1

 

How to Reach Your Goal

Since true worship is a matter of the heart, we can’t know what is going on in the minds and hearts of the kids we are leading in worship. But we can teach them what worship is and guide them toward moments of worship.

Directing kids to focus on God alone leads them toward worship. Plan every part of your worship time with the goal of directing kids to focus on God alone.

When we are confronted with who God is, our response is reverence, awe, and worship

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Psalm 105:1-3

 

Teaching Tip – Pray as you Prep!

A young woman praying with her hands together on white backgroun

How much of your lesson prep is spent in prayer? Prayer should be a huge part of lesson prep.It is all to easy to get focused on the details of making sure you have all the materials needed and forget to pray that God would continue to transform you and the students in your class.

Ask God to do a work in your own heart.

It is all too easy to Sunday School teachers to fall into the pattern of reading quickly through an all-too-familiar Bible story and not spending time meditating on the truth of God’s Word. All Scripture is useful says 2 Timothy 3:16. When you pray, ask God to show you something new. Ask God to open your mind and your heart to understand His Word. From your learning and growth comes something to teach the kids in your class.

Pray also for your students that God would be preparing them to learn the Bible truth.

Pray for the specific needs of your students throughout the week. As you are preparing for the lesson, pray that your students would ready to hear the lesson. Ask God to put situations and experiences into their week that would prepare them to hear and understand the Bible truth you will teach on Sunday.

Make prayer a significant part of your preparation routine when you teach Sunday School.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

 

Curriculum Review – What’s in the Bible? Church Edition

What’s a testament? Why are there so many different books in the Bible? Who wrote the books in the Bible? Is the Bible a book of stories or a book of one big story?

What’s in the Bible? Church edition is a brand new curriculum for elementary age children created with the purpose of helping them see the Bible as one big story – the story of God and His people.

Beginning in Genesis and continuing through to Revelation, this 52 week media-driven curriculum gives kids the big picture story of the Bible. It helps them see that the Bible is one big story, not a bunch of unconnected stories. If you are looking for a curriculum that will take your students through the Bible in a purposeful, orderly manner, then this may be the curriculum for you.

Along with the 13 volumes of Genesis to Revelation curriculum, there are two special volumes that can be added. Four weeks of Old Testament review and 4 weeks of special Christmas curriculum designed for fewer volunteers and more guests.

Here’s a video of Phil Vischer talking about this new curriculum.

This curriculum is a unique combination of video and small group segments. Each lesson is designed in four sections. Each section includes a video lesson and group activity. The group activity includes games, discussion, and Bible study.

If you are familiar with the What’s in the Bible? DVD series, you will recognize some of the videos. The two teaching videos from each section are taken from the What’s in the Bible? DVD series. The other two videos are getting to know each other and review created for this curriculum.

Things I Like About This Curriculum

Its Focus on Biblical Literacy

I love the focus on Biblical literacy. This curriculum contains the whole narrative of the Bible, not just highlights. I also really like that repetition and reinforcement are built into the lessons and units. This curriculum was designed to give kids a big picture view of the Bible and to help them understand how it all fits together.

Its Customizability

This is a truly customizable curriculum. All material is on disc or DVD. The leader’s guides and take-home papers are available as pdf or as word documents. This means that leaders or teachers can go into the lesson guide and make changes as necessary. Customizable take-home materials allow leaders to add notes to parents about upcoming events and projects and memory verses.

I think this is a truly fantastic aspect of this curriculum and I hope other curriculum providers follow suit.

Leaders can also customize the format. It can be used in a large group/small group format or a traditional classroom format or whatever format works for your situation. The only limitation is the number of screens you have to show the videos on.

The Combination of Bible Story and Bible Skills

I really like the combination of Bible story and Bible skills in this curriculum. Each lesson, the students are encouraged to read and study their Bibles. They hears stories from the Bible and they are taught important Bible skills like how to read a reference and what a testament is and the books of the Bible and how they are organized.

 

I encourage you to check it out! Click here for free samples of What’s in the Bible? Church edition.

And for a limited time What’s in the Bible is offering 40% discount on your entire order. Visit this page for more information and for the discount code.

 

As a thank you gift for writing this review, I will be receiving a DVD and poster from What’s in the Bible?.

 

 

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