Tips and Tricks

Are you teaching Bible stories or Bible lessons?

By Tina Busenitz

Noah’s Ark. Jonah and the Whale. Daniel in the Lions’ Den. David and Goliath. All of these are exciting Bible stories that children love to listen to. They marvel at what God has done.

But is there more than just what God has done? Should the children also hear what God can do now?

It is said that “A Bible story becomes a Bible lesson when we apply it to the life of the child.” Many teachers teach Bible stories, but not as many teach Bible lessons. Each child needs to know how the passage (or story) applies to his life. What difference does the story make for him?

In considering applications for the children, it is important to remember that an application will be different for a saved child than for an unsaved child. It would not be biblical, for example, to tell all children, “God is with you always. You don’t need to be afraid.” That promise is for those who have trusted in Christ as Savior and have the Holy Spirit living in them. For the unsaved child, his sin separates him from a holy God and he needs to come to God for salvation before God is with him always.

In developing applications then, it is important to consider both children – the saved and the unsaved – and to stay true to what God’s Word has to say for both. Is there a truth in the Bible story for each of them?

Consider the story of Noah and the ark. What application might there be for a saved child in your class? One could be that Noah was obedient even when things didn’t make sense. Are there times in the lives of the children you minister to that they need to obey what God says even when it seems hard or doesn’t make sense? Talk to the children who have believed in Jesus about those times – like forgiving someone who has stolen something from them or praying for someone who has bullied them. Show them Scripture to encourage them to obey.

Now think about an application from the story of Noah for the unsaved children in your class. Are there any pictures of the Gospel in that story? There are many! The sinfulness of the human race represents the sinfulness that all of us are born with. God’s love for the people He made is evident as He had a heart grieved by the sin of the world. His love for all of us is very evident throughout Scripture. God provided only one way for Noah and his family (and anyone else who would have taken it) to be saved – to enter through the one door and be safe on the ark. There is only one way for man to be saved from sin and that is through Jesus Christ, God’s Son. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life.” No child can come to the Father except through Him. Take the opportunity to minister to the unsaved children in your class by applying the Gospel to their lives in your Bible story.

When teaching a Bible lesson, teach from the Bible and make application throughout the story in relation to the characters and what is going on in the story. Help the saved children to relate to a truth from the story and build on that truth. Help the unsaved children to see the pictures of the Gospel message. And never share the Gospel without encouraging the children to trust in Jesus as Savior by giving a clear invitation after the Gospel has been presented.

All of us love a good story, but when it comes to sharing from God’s Word, we need to be teaching children Bible lessons – stories with applications. Then God’s Word will make a difference in the lives of the children.

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