We left our last post with the promise to look into examples on how to find God in every Bible story -even when this might not be obvious. Let’s start, so we can see why this is important.
Everything is about God, we know that! But there are some bible stories where God’s involvement is not as clear, and as a result we simplify our explanations. For example, Elijah on Mount Carmel. We could probably just say that the story shows how powerful God is, which is true. However, that is not all! If we don’t try to dig deeper, we will oversimplify what is going on and end up making God predictable and boring.
Instead, we could start by asking more questions when we read the passage. To begin with, we could ponder- how is His power manifested? What does that show about God and the extent of His power? What did He do specifically with His power? And I could go on and on.
In our Sunday school classes we have a bad habit of reducing God down to a very small list of attributes. If we say anything about him, we only say the obvious things with little depth or thought.
From my observations, we have 4 classic basic truths we normally go to;
1) God is powerful (without exploring the fun and the various ways that His power is displayed)
2) God makes and keeps his promises (Probably the number 1 ‘classic’ thing that we teach about God from the Old Testament!)
3) God is angry at sin
4) God loves his people.
I would guess that 95% of classes I have observed teaching the Old Testament would jump directly to the death of Jesus to conclude the lesson, but not before teaching one of the above classics. Every story would point to the cross, but only to Jesus’ death and almost never to his incarnation, his life and deeds or his resurrection. Of course, I love the fact that Jesus died in my place for my salvation, but I am never surprised when a parent tells me that their child is bored of church. Of course, they are, and this is because we make God so dull, and predictable! We also do this with the New Testament, where we just replace the name of God with Jesus.
So how can we improve in this area?
Well, first, do not despair! We can change this without too much effort. This will not start when you sit down to prepare a class for the coming Sunday. Instead, it begins with you, sitting by yourself, with your Bible open, reading a little bit of it each day, thinking for yourselves about who God is and what he is like from what you are reading. Deuteronomy 6, the passage that we all use to inspire parents (and kids’ leaders) to teach children about God, tells us that before you teach anything you need to know it for yourself – that you need to have it ‘in your own hearts first’.
You cannot give away what you do not have. To teach children well on Sundays the primary focus should be getting to know God for yourself, in all his beauty and richness, before you pass it onto others. I think we give children a boring, reduced-sized God because we only have a limited and dull view of God in our hearts.
We teach children that they are sinners who need saving every week because deep down that is all our faith consists of. That is the only thing that excites us about Christianity, when there is so much more! We were saved to know God, to be in a relationship with Him, to enjoy Him in, and live in His fullness now and forever. Therefore, apart from praying for the children we look after in children’s ministry, make sure you are a learner and a disciple of Jesus yourself. Someone who is longing to get to know God better. Someone who is taking active steps, even small steps, in your own life to do so.
For your sake, as well as for the children at your church, when you listen to a sermon, or go to your weekly church home group, or read the Bible by yourself please ask the question ‘what does this tell me about God?’ Even if He wasn’t mentioned, pause, and think about it. Please develop a list of things you are learning about God and continue adapting and adding to it.
I am convinced that with God’s help this will aid your day-to-day life, as you strive to live for Him. I am certain that it will bring you joy and maybe make you smile as you think of Him. I am sure it will make you less worried about life and make you feel more content. As a result, you will have more to “give away” when you teach about God every Sunday.
Over time, the children’s ministry in your church will be richer because your teaching about Him will be deeper and more exciting. This will be because the God you get to know will be bigger, better, and more wonderful than what you had thought before.
Now that we have laid the basis for a deeper teaching, the last article next month will look into discipleship.