Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reaching Children in Sunday School (Part 3): Making a Plan

I love my teenage son. He is amazingly creative minded. He comes up with all kinds of ideas and projects and... actually he comes up with so many ideas it can be totally exhausting! But I love his creativity! He knows what he wants to do, but sometimes he struggles with plotting out a plan that will get him to a goal. With time and experience, he will learn how to make realistic goals and make feasible plans on how to accomplish those goals.

When we work with children we must start by seeing them how God sees them.

Then, when we must set biblical goals... what do we want to accomplish as we work with children?

But as with anything, once we know where we want to go, we have to plot a course to get there. And here is a simple road map:


Lead by Example

Matthew 5:16 "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works,
and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

How can we expect children to travel a road we are not travelling ourselves?


Lead by Serving

Romans 12:10 "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;
in honour preferring one another;"

If we want them to have the mind of Christ, to be servant-hearted, we must practice it daily with them and for them.



Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

Children are not just going to pick up Christian living and go with it. They must be trained. Sometimes it feels like such an uphill battle when the home is ungodly. But every effort we make can be used for God's glory. Some of my favorite testimonies are adults who were products of bus ministry. Their parents didn't take them to church and often the home was quite contrary, but God used the bus ministry and children's ministry to reach their hearts. Don't lose hope or get distracted even when the home is going contrary to your efforts. Nothing is impossible with God!



Proverbs 22:15 "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;
but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."

In most cultures, it is inappropriate for the Sunday school teacher to spank, but there are many other forms of discipline that help. And the more the teacher invests time and love and sincere effort into a child, the more impact the discipline will have. Often that discipline comes in the form of loss of privilege or loss of reward. Don't forget to take time with that child to get beyond mere "punishment," but into true discipleship:

2 Timothy 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God,
and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction,
for instruction in righteousness:"

The reproof part seems to come so easily, but there is more to discipline (discipleship) than reproof. Children cannot change apart from Scripture. When they do wrong, take the time (maybe after class if possible) to show them in love why what they did was wrong (doctrine,) what the right action/words would have been (correction,) and how they can apply this knowledge in the future (instruction in righteousness.)


Avoid Discouraging

Colossians 3:21 "Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged."

If He doesn't want fathers discouraging children, He certainly doesn't want Sunday school teachers doing it! Children can be easily discouraged. Being inconsistent, being hypocritical, being more harsh than necessary, losing control of our tempers, using guilt to drive them to do right, selfishness, wasting their time, not keeping our promises... all these things can discourage children. Children may get angry with us, but let's be careful not to do things to provoke it.  


Keep the Word Before Them

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 "And these words, which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them
for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates."

I must admit, I get frustrated with the thinking "I have the children for one hour. What am I going to do to fill up that hour?!" My thinking? I will ONLY have those for one hour... how much can I pack in? We never know how many opportunities we will have with a child to reach them and teach them for the cause of Christ. Don't waste time on "time fillers." Make every activity purposeful. Want to play a game with them? Absolutely! Just make sure it has a purpose. Want to serve them snacks? Some children certainly come to church with hungry tummies. If that's the case, feed them, but while they eat, teach or review. It takes work and planning to prepare for each class, but if we are going to do it, make every second count!

Also, make every area in the school room count. Use the walls, the floor, the ceiling, the curtains... put up Scriptures, hang bulletin boards or some form of review for them to see, make diorama shelves if you live in a country where they would not be seen as idols. When their eyes are wondering around as they wait for an activity or for class to start, they are learning just by looking around. This will take time to accomplish, but so worth it if you plan it right.

Find ways to get things to go home with them, too. Review papers, crafts, letters, etc., are a great way to expand your classroom beyond the walls. If you live in a country where computers and internet are more accessible, consider a Sunday school page or blog.



1 Corinthians 13:1-13 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

Oh, that this passage would be the theme song of every Sunday school teacher! The fact is... teaching Sunday school takes time, effort, patience, grace, and love love love. There will be children who are difficult to love, but God can help us love them the way He does. We should be willing to endure all things and not keep a running list of faults and failures. We should never give up hope of reaching them no matter how frustrating or heartbreaking the situation is. May our charity... our love for them never fail.

May we also never neglect truth in our efforts to love them. True love must be guided in truth.

"Rules without Relationship equals Rebellion"

It isn't a guarantee that a child will rebel, but it sure puts the catalyst to it!
Truth and Love should be connected at the hip. Never neglect one or the other.

by Charity, Southern Asia 

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