This article is aimed at encouraging gospel workers who do not have access to certain resources when teaching the Bible to children. Growing up in an environment where we had limited resources available to help with teaching Bible to the next generation, has grown my passion to teach the Bible to children in different contexts in Africa.
Perhaps you might be thinking, ‘What do I mean about teaching with limited resources?’ When talking about resources I am referring to money, teaching materials, internet, venue and volunteers. It is a reality that many African countries, particularly rural areas, struggle with the resources for teaching biblical truths to children. The rapidly growing population in Africa therefore presents Christians with a steep challenge as well as a wonderful opportunity. For two things are never far away: the Bible and children.
It is true that one may feel discouraged or ill-equipped due to limited resources. But let God’s Word be your encouragement to keep you going.
Be Encouraged – We have God’s Word
Your role as a teacher is to make use of every opportunity to spread the good news about God to children. It is true that one may feel discouraged or ill-equipped due to limited resources. But let God’s Word be your encouragement to keep you going.
So, ‘Does it really matter to have more resources when teaching the Bible to children?’ Of course it matters. Resources help to enhance and enforce truths from the Bible. Also, they help to meet the needs of your group in terms of different learning styles.
But not having enough resources should not hinder your passion for teaching the Bible to kids in your context because God has given us his main tool: the Bible. It is only through the faithful teaching of the Bible that children can be saved and grow in their relationship with God.
The important question you should be asking yourself when planning to teach the Bible to children should be, ‘What do I want children to know about God?’ You should be concerned to teach your children about God’s character and how they fit into God’s big picture. So kids need to know the following truths about God from the Bible:
God is the Creator
In Genesis 1-2, we learn that God is the Creator of everything. He created the heavens and the earth. He is the King and the Ruler of everything here on earth and in heaven. In Psalm 24:1, David affirms, “The earth is the LORD’S, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” You can refer your kids to the things that God created like the sun, moon, stars, trees, plants, the sea and animals. It is also important to teach children that God made us in his own image (Genesis 1:27). Moreover, God is relational. He is not distant to them. Children need to know that God loves them, and created humanity to know him. The one who gave us life loves us. We are surrounded by signposts in creation to the Creator (Romans 1:19-20). And we are invited to personally know this God.
God is Holy, and He is Love
Children need to know that God is holy. In him there is no sin. God hates sin and therefore it separates us from him. When children reject God as their King and their Ruler by the things they say, do and think, they are essentially saying:
- Shove off God
- I am in control
- No to your Rules
You might have noticed the above three points are an acronym: SIN. Sin offends God but in Christ he overturns sin through his gracious love. He sent a Saviour, Jesus Christ, to rescue them from their sins. Romans 5:8 reads, “God shows his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” You can help children to acknowledge their sin and say sorry to God for ignoring him as their King. Encourage children to turn away from their sin and put their trust in Jesus who died and rose again to save them from their sins. They must live in obedience to him in his Word and constant dependence on him by prayer.
God is our Father
Children need to know that God is their Father. They can talk to him through prayer. Jesus teaches us a great model of how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. Children need to be taught that God is a Father who hears and answer prayers in his own time. Thus, they can trust in him. They can ask or cry out to God for help when they are sick, or when they are scared—at any time, from any place. They can pray for others too, thank God for his blessings and continue repenting of their sin (1 John 1:9-10). On the other hand, children must be taught that God speaks to them when they read their Bibles. Therefore, they need to listen, trust and obey God’s Word so that they can grow in their love for him.
You can be creative by using what you have available around you to bring your lesson alive for children.
Using Illustrations and Games
All children benefit from creative repetition of the core teaching you are communicating. You can be creative by using what you have available around you to bring your lesson alive for children. Remember that children have different learning styles. Some remember better through listening, others by doing something creative with their bodies and others by what they see. For example, if you meet with your Sunday school in the field or under a tree with sand beneath it, you can draw or write in the sand while you are teaching. Refer to the pictures below.
In this way, it is likely that kids will remember what they have been learning and they can even teach it to others without worrying about having their own resources. That sand will be a great resource to enhance your Bible teaching and the seed of God’s Word will be planted in the lives of the children.
For Kids who Like to Move
Recap games can also be helpful for those children who learn best when they are moving and expending their energy. One such game requires only sand, a stick and a stone. Use the stick to draw a circle on the sand. Divide it into 8 or 9 sections. Insert a number from 1-9 in each section. You must have a set of numbered questions which you will ask the children to see if they understood the different lessons from the Bible.
Each child will get a chance to throw a stone into the circle. Ask them the question corresponding to that number. Mixing play and learning is actually effective, for all ages.
For example, your questions could be, based on the points above:
- Who is God?
- Who is in charge of everything in the world?
- What is sin?
- How can we be friends with God?
- Memory verse: Psalm 24:1
- Who did God sent to die on the cross for our sins?
- Memory verse: John 3:16
- Can we solve the problem of sin?
- Who has power to forgive sins?
Children Learn in Different Ways
It is vital that, as you try these methods, you help the children to understand the meaning behind your illustrations. In every lesson you must work hard to include activities that will speak to all types of learners: auditory (hearing), visual (seeing) and kinetic (moving or doing). Each new activity will also serve to reinforce your core teaching and help kids to remember. The goal should be to help the children to know God through faith in Jesus Christ.
It is God who will bring growth to his work. So, make use of what you have around you, and with God’s help, you can do it.
The Power to Change Lives
Bible teaching with limited resources is doable for you and the children you teach. The Bible is the greatest tool which you can use to teach the gospel to children. It contains “the knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” (Titus 1:1). The gospel has power to change lives. Children can know God through the Bible. Children can be saved in Christ, and they can know God as their Father. Ultimately, this truth should keep you motivated and excited as you faithfully teach the Bible to children. It is God who will bring growth to his work. So, make use of what you have around you, and with God’s help, you can do it.