Part 2—Bible Teaching Tailored to Kids
Jesus, the master teacher, used direct teaching at times, object lessons occasionally, and parables (stories) frequently to make His points. We can learn from and teach from these great stories.
We should note that we find powerful stories not just in Jesus’ parables, but also in events from the lives of most Bible characters. Lessons in God’s Unfolding Story for Older Preschoolers draw from stories and accounts in the Bible rather than didactic passages because children will more readily and easily listen to, understand, and remember the truths showcased in stories.
- Stories, including parables, are experiential. Kids can identify with the action and the characters.
- Stories are multi-sensory. Kids can feel the sand, smell the fish, and hear the waves in their minds as they listen.
- Stories are memorable. We all can recall what we understand and enjoy much more easily than we can remember a list of items or facts.
- Stories reach down into the heart of the listener. Kids feel the joy, sadness, excitement, and other emotional elements of the characters in the story.
Yet there is something else we must remember when using stories, and especially Jesus’ parables, with children. In part 1, we listed several general reasons why Jesus used parables in His teaching ministry. Here let’s dig deeper. In Matthew 13:10-17, Jesus’ disciples asked Him specifically why He spoke in parables. He gave a very interesting answer, essentially saying that His parables successfully concealed insights from those with closed hearts while at the same time revealing truth to listeners with open hearts.
Who among the members of the human family tend to have open hearts? Children! In Matthew 18:2-5, Jesus gave His disciples an important lesson on greatness. “He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. ‘I assure you,’ He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one child like this in My name welcomes Me.’”
Thus, in biblical accounts and in appropriate supportive stories we see special opportunities to teach God’s Word to children with effectiveness and clarity. Moreover, we see this especially with regard to Jesus’ parables. Elmer Towns observes, “Storytelling is effective with everyone, from children to adults, from new Christians to the most mature saint; but perhaps its greatest value may be in teaching children.”*
As you use stories and parables with your kids, be mindful of this spiritual dynamic. Pray for yourself as you teach, and pray your boys and girls as they listen. Ask God to reveal His truth as only He can, and make yourself available for Him to use.
Long Hollow Baptist Church
*Elmer Towns, What Every Sunday School Teacher Should Know: 24 Secrets that Can Help You Change Lives. (Ventura, CA: Regal Books, 2001), 91-92.
Additional Resource: “Five Keys to Storytelling”