Did any of you have these growing up? We did! I think my parents ordered them from one of those storybook things you see at the dentist office. I think I would probably be appalled today at the way the Bible stories are retold in those books, but it sure does bring back some memories.
There have been a few things lately that have me thinking about the importance of being familiar with the many stories in the Bible.
The Bible in 90 Days
I’ve recently started using The Bible in 90 Days reading plan. I’m currently in the middle of Judges (and still 5 days behind) and am surprised at how many of the stories I am familiar with… even some of the weird and/or gruesome ones. (One of my favourites is in Judges when that woman puts a tent spike through Sisera’s head!) I can’t help but wonder how I know all these stories. Was it from Sunday School? Was it from all those boring family devotional times consisting of my dad reading long portions of scripture? Was it from reading those Bible Story books?
Teleseminar with Eric Bryant and Scot McKnight
This past Tuesday, Eric Bryant hosted a teleseminar with Scot McKnight as his guest. If you don’t already know, I have a man crush on Scot McKnight. He’s one of the best articulated theologians on this whole Third Way/Third Culture/Missional way of viewing things. Anyway, someone asked about how to best help people with no theological education read, interpret and understand the Bible for all its worth. One answer he had was to encourage people to read the Bible in its entirety and be familiar with it. That way we can interpret scripture in light of the whole. McKnight wrote a book entitled The Blue Parakeet which goes into that method of studying the Bible in more depth. I highly recommend it!
Conversation with Jill Nelson
Earlier today I had a conversation with Jill Nelson about preteen ministry. We have been experimenting over the past two years with how to best structure what we do with the Grade 5 and 6 kids at our church. I had met Jill at the most recent Conspire Conference at Willow and heard some of what they do with their preteens so I wanted to pick her brain. In the midst of the conversation, I was hit with the reality that most of our kids are familiar with only the few stories in the Bible that we use in our lessons from week to week. They don’t know that the Bible is full of story after story… some short, some long, some exciting, some boring, some clear and some confusing… but chock full of stories.
Where My Ramblings Are Going
For the longest time I’ve balked at a systematic approach to teaching “major Bible stories” because they were so academic in scope with the main purpose of attaining knowledge as the path to a lasting relationship with God. As I come to understand the entire Bible as one huge story of Redemption played out in whole or in part over and over again, I am finding a new appreciation for a knowledge of all the stories in the Bible… not just the major ones. I now have a renewed desire for kids to be exposed to the entirety of the Bible… not just so they become good knowledgeable Christians who can win a sword drill or Bible quiz or quote scriptures for any situation. They need to see the pattern of God… the backdrop, so to speak, in which the Redemption of the entire cosmos is played out.
It’s got me thinking about how to help children become familiar with these stories without it turning Bible knowledge into a way of evaluating the seriousness of someone’s spirituality. It’s got to be more than just teaching the stories as historical events that teach some sort of lesson. It’s got to be about passing on a desire to read the Bible to children AND families. It’s got to be about finding ways to make it possible for children AND families to read through the Bible together… not so they can pick out the morals and the lessons… but so they can know the stories so they can better understand THE Story.
- Anyone out there dealing with the same thing?
- How do you approach teaching Bible stories?