The Principles of I Follow
I can't accomplish a lifetime of systematic theology in the time I have with my children at church. I have to decide what I want to accomplish and focus on reaching those goals. As such, here are some principles I follow when writing Bible lessons.
a. Teach one big idea: Every Bible story can teach us dozens of things, but I believe many stories can be boiled down to a single, most important concept that God wants us to learn. While I strive to teach the Bible as it is written, I cannot expect elementary-aged children to remember every single detail. The big idea is the one key concept that I wish every kid to leave the building remembering.
b. Read God's Words: The Bible is God's Word to us, and it's God and his Word that changes us. While I could simply paraphrase a Bible story and make it as exciting as Star Wars or as funny as SpongeBob, I would be missing a key element: God speaking to us through his Word. Whenever possible, I structure my lessons around reading directly from the Bible.
c. Keep their attention: Simply reading from the Bible and doing nothing else is a recipe for fidgety children, so I try to make each lesson exciting and interactive. I usually break the story down into a verse or two at a time, after which I engage the children in dozens of different ways to help them understand what we just read.
d. Connect ideas whenever possible: While each section of my lessons have their specific purpose, I can sometimes capture two monkeys with a single coconut by reusing ideas in subtly different says during each section. By taking a prop that was used during the Bible lesson and using it for a Bible verse game, the children are reminded of a section of the story while they are learning their verse.
The Structure of Each Lesson
Since I write my own lessons for the children I teach, this curriculum is designed to fit perfectly within a typical Sunday at our church. To understand why I write the say I do, you'll need to understand what a day in the life of our church is like:
a. Morning Service: Everyone kindergarten and up is in the auditorium together as for a time of worship in song.
b. Bible Lesson During the Sermon: As our pastor begins his message, the children go downstairs for a Bible lesson while the adults remain in the auditorium. This time usually lasts about 30-45 min.
c. Communities: For about 45 min. after the sermon, the adults meet in small groups to discuss what they just heard. The children also receive instruction.
Each lesson I write is divided into five sections, which I'll list below. I'll also divide into the section of the aforementioned day-in-the-life of our church described above:
During the Sermon
a. Introduction: A brief discussion/activity designed to get the children to access the background knowledge they may have on the lesson's topic. About 5-10 minutes.
b. Lesson: The main time of teaching the Bible story/concept. The way this is done varies widely from week to week, featuring story drawings, impromptu skits, and props. About 25-30 minutes.
c. Application Activity: An activity or discussion of the day's big idea. About 15 minutes.
d. Verse Activity: A discussion of the day's Bible memory verse along with an activity to help the children begin to learn the verse. About 15 minutes.
e. Review Activity: An activity or game designed on reviewing the Bible story, big idea, and application of the day.