For years, Bible classes for children and teens have been approached in a variety of different ways. Some of them have worked okay and others have failed young Bible students wanting to learn what God wants them to know. While some companies claim to have Bible class literature written by professional educators, most professional educators using them to teach Bible classes are often frustrated to find that most fail to use educational best practices.
Thankfully, there are some researched backed changes you can make to any Bible class curricula to improve its effectiveness. Here are the top five things most Bible classes for children and teens could benefit from adding/changing.
- Defining learning expectations for students and their parents. What exactly will students in your Bible classes learn? In this lesson? This school year? After their childhood and teen years? What is not being covered? Students and their parents will have more realistic expectations if they see what is being taught in Bible classes and what they need to teach at home. Students will know how much they really need to learn to make living the Christian life a bit easier. Hopefully, adults with huge gaps in their Bible knowledge will be encouraged to learn what they are missing – quite possibly key bits of information that could make them wiser and more godly.
- Planning to increase both Bible students knowledge of scripture and the skill sets they need to actually do what God has asked them to do. Our Living the Christian Life Bible curriculum was designed for this very purpose. Young people can want to engage in godly conflict resolution, (for example) but if they have never been taught and practiced the skills involved, it may be difficult, if not impossible for them to accomplish.
- Spending time explaining vocabulary and customs used in the Bible. Children growing up in a Christian environment can often use complex terms in the Bible correctly and even recite a canned definition for them, while having no actual idea what the term means. If students can’t define a word in their own words, they haven’t mastered that vocabulary term. Cultural things like the lack of electricity and cars in Bible times to how clay lamps worked and what a fig tastes like can also impact a young person’s comprehension of a Bible story. Taking the time to explain and demonstrate some of these things can also prove helpful when they attempt independent Bible study.
- Regularly discuss the importance of spiritual disciplines like independent Bible study and prayer in personal spiritual growth. Many of us take it for granted that a child growing up in a Christian home knows the importance of things like Bible study and prayer. Assume nothing. Encourage them to participate by helping them better understand why it is in their best interest to invest the time and effort in spiritual disciplines.
- Constantly encourage making connections. How does this scripture connect to that Bible story? How does that Bible story connect to this one? How does this biblical command or principle apply to what happened Friday at school? Connections are critical for learning and using new material. Encourage them to continually ask themselves how the things they are learning from the Bible connect to other things.
Taking the time to make these changes (and a few others) can greatly enhance whatever Bible curriculum you are using. It’s worth taking the time and effort to do it.