Thinking & Bible Classes for Young People

Bible classes for kids and teens may have different curricula from church to church, but they usually follow a very similar pattern. Children’s Bible classes often feature a Bible story, followed by an activity of some sort. Teen classes tend to be more lecture or discussion based, focusing on a Bible story or a theme. We often believe this exposure to God’s Words is really all young people need to know to understand how to live the lives God wants them to live.

Yet, when you really examine these Bible classes, how much true thinking is happening in the minds of students? How are they encouraged to dive into deeper levels of understanding and application? Are we doing anything that actually helps them understand how to use all of this knowledge and wisdom we are teaching them?

The authors of the book Making Thinking Visible look at education and thinking from a secular point of view. Much of what they share though, has some important implications for those of us trying to help young people build strong spiritual foundations and develop to their godly potential.

For teachers, they give important guidelines to consider as to how you spend you class time. They counsel asking yourself three important questions and thinking carefully about the answers to guide you in planning appropriate activities and lessons.

So what are the three questions? I have changed them a bit to adapt them to the needs of Bible class teachers, but the principles are theirs.

  1. What do your students spend most of their time doing in class? I would also add, what are your students most likely thinking about as they listen to the lesson and during the activity?
  2. What does God expect a Christian to do in their lives? Yes, we are not saved by our works, but there is a long list of things God expects of us in the New Testament – both in sins to avoid and good, positive things to do and be.
  3. If someone is living the Christian life as God wants them to live it, what are the things they did to help them get to that point? For example, God wants Christians to share their faith. In order to do that effectively, a Christian needs to read and study the Bible enough to be familiar with what is in it. Think in terms of things like having a heart for God, having godly character, making wise, godly choices, using our gifts to serve God, having a vital prayer life, etc. Each of those things required someone who does them consistently to learn something, try something, practice something, discover something. What were those things?

The authors point out that a truly effective class will have number one align well with the answers to number two and three. Unfortunately, Bible classes are like many school classes. We teach knowledge and expect students to memorize it and be able to state it back to us when questioned. Our classes don’t necessarily push them into deeper levels of thinking and understanding that will help them actually live the life God wants them to live.

Take some time and really think about your Bible class in respect to the three questions. What changes can you make to better prepare your Bible students to live a Christian life? We will share a few tips in our next post. If you would like to read the book Making Thinking Visible, it has a lot of great information to consider. Just be aware it is a book for secular educators and you will need to make your own connections to Bible classes.

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