An aspect of my overall responsibility at Harvest Naperville is to work with our team to develop the way we approach worship, through music and teaching, within our Children’s Ministry. I’m old enough to remember when many Sunday School classes were taught using the “groundbreaking technology” of the flannelgraph board. Well meaning, faithful, but often hermeneutically misguided teachers would teach the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, the Exodus, etc., with, often, quite interesting interpretation and application. Many children’s Bible story books, to this day, teach that Noah had to go out and look for all the animals to bring to the ark. Moreover, the only reason he was saved, they say, was because he was the only person left on earth actually good enough, in himself, to merit God’s favor (…void of any talk of God’s grace). All the eisegesis and misinterpretation aside, and acknowledging the many who did faithfully and accurately teach the Scriptures, I am truly thankful for the many whose heart was to help me encounter God in the gospel.
As we trust God to help us ‘train up [children] in the way [they] should go’ (a la Prov. 22:6), faithfully, accurately, and in a way that displays the authoritative teaching of God’s Word, I’ve come across two resources from Crossway Books that I’m excited to incorporate into our strategic development.
The first is a new release by John and Kim Walton entitled, The Bible Story Handbook: A Resource for Teaching 175 Stories from The Bible. The publisher’s description reads:
“How do Sunday school teachers lead children through the stories of Cain and Abel or Judas’s betrayal in a way that reflects the authority of Scripture? Sunday school curricula often gloss over difficult lessons or focus too much on characters in Bible stories, neglecting God’s self-revelation in Scripture. John and Kim Walton have created this handbook for 175 Bible stories to assist teachers and parents in knowing what each story teaches and how to present it in a God-centered way.
As they work their way through the Bible, the Waltons examine seven elements in each story: focus, theme, application, place in the Bible, interpretational issues, historical and cultural background, and mistakes to avoid. The Bible Story Handbook includes introductory articles on why we teach the Bible and right and wrong ways to use the Bible. Every parent and Sunday school teacher will find this unique resource to be invaluable in teaching children to know and love God.”
I had the privilege of sitting under Dr. Walton’s teaching during my coursework at Wheaton College Graduate School, even having the opportunity to have Sloppy Joe’s with him and his wife at their home! I was greatly encouraged by their generous hearts, their love for the God of the Scriptures, and their desire to teach others about God’s grace in the gospel. I trust that The Bible Story Handbook will prove to be an excellent resource for those who seek to faithfully and accurately teach the Bible to children!
A second resource is several years old, but nonetheless one I feel will be greatly beneficial. Dr. Bruce Ware, from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written a book called, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God. A couple notable endorsements read:
“A theologically rich resource to aid parents in training their children. Anyone who wants to help children grow in their love for Jesus and understanding of the Bible needs this book.” —Mark Driscoll
“Imagine a respected theologian devoting himself to training a new generation of pastors and scholars in the seminary classroom. Now imagine him driving home at night to teach that profound theology in simple terms to his children at their bedsides. Now imagine this father compiling those bedside conversations into a book available to all pastors, parents, and children alike. Imagine no more. My friend Dr. Bruce Ware has done it.” —C. J. Mahaney
If you were unaware of these resources, I hope you’ll find them helpful in your endeavors to communicate the great truths of Scripture to the young hearts in your life and ministry. We are looking forward to all that God will do in Harvest Naperville’s Children’s Ministry, through his Spirit, as he leads us to faithfully proclaim Jesus in all the Scriptures.