Teaching children the ways of faith is a critical pillar of the Christian religion. Proverbs 22:6 in the Bible states, “Train children in the right way and, when old, they will not stray (NRSV).” In the New Testament, Jesus is seen many times taking the time to instruct, address, or heal the children around Him. They are an essential part of His ministry, and he makes that clear to his disciples and followers.
Today, there are many options for religious educational materials to reach our youngest believers with the good news of Jesus. Here are a few resource ideas for you to use in your Christian education ministry.
For many children, bringing to life a story before their eyes in ways they can see, touch, and engage with makes it more real and, in turn, more likely to stick in their memory. These wooden figurines are simple enough to allow kids to fill in the gaps with their imagination while also being guided along by the story they tell. The high quality of production ensures they will last through many generations of 3 to 5-year-olds playing and learning with them.
You may also consider using brightly colored visuals for telling stories that will catch the eye. What child wouldn’t love to watch as a green vine grew up out of the felt landscape and was covered with ripe purple fruit in the telling of the parable of the vine? Perhaps they can add their fruit and share what it looks like to produce “fruit” as a “vine” connected to the father.
All kids are born with an innate sense of creativity that is dying to burst from them in a multitude of ways. Storytelling is a simple and effective way to harness this energy; even Jesus used the power of story to grip the imaginations of the crowds and disciples through His parables. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the story you want to tell so you can immerse the children in the scene. They will match your energy so be sure to be expressive and pace the story appropriately. Don’t forget to stop and ask questions to activate their critical thinking centers as well.
If you are having a hard time bringing the stories to life on your own, there are many Sunday school curriculums out there to help you. As they say, don’t reinvent the wheel when there are already so many excellent resources at your disposal.
The point of all this teaching is that it will go with the kids, back home and throughout their lives. You want them to be able to look at the adult picking them up after service and answer the question, “what did you learn in church today?”. How does one accomplish that? There are a couple of ways:
1. Big Ideas and Memory Verses
Give them a sound bite to hold onto and a verse to remember to encourage biblical literacy. Review the big idea and memory verse a few times during the lesson as repetition is known to help with recollection.
2. Creative Activity
For younger kids, this may mean coloring a picture or a craft that revolves around the story. For older kids, this could be writing something out, like a poem, that will remind them of the lesson.
3. Physical Reminder
A rubber band bracelet with the verse, a stone with a reflective word written on it, a little wooden cross to keep in their pocket, Christian home decor placed around your house– these items are all excellent ideas for material objects to serve as reminders.
The future of the church is held by our youngest generations; it is imperative they are taught and can remember what Jesus would have wanted them to know. Help them with these easy-to-use Christian Education resources.