There is a simple axiom of life that has received far too little attention. Here it is…
A jigsaw puzzle is easier to assemble when
you have the box lid.
What!? Okay, so maybe this won’t make it into future systematic theology books, but it is, nonetheless, an important truth that has real application for how we teach the Bible to children.
Where’s the Box Lid?
It is, in fact, easier to assemble the pieces when you know where the pieces go. No one would argue with this. And yet, contemporary Bible teaching strategies almost invariably encourage kids (and adults for that matter) to assemble the pieces of the biblical puzzle with no box lid.
Each week we gather our children and pick up a piece of the puzzle (a single Bible story) and say, “today we’re going to study this piece of the puzzle.” Then, a week later, we pick up another piece of the puzzle and study that. What we typically fail to do is give the children the “box lid” that shows them the final, assembled picture.
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The Bible is not a collection of random stories that contain helpful tips for living and instructions for how to get saved. Yes, it has stories in it. Yes, it provides help for living. And yes, it certainly tells us how to know the Lord. But it is so much more than that. The Bible is, in fact, a single, grand, epoch story.
Consider what Reta Halteman Finger wrote in her foreword to Remember the Future: The Pastoral Theology of Paul the Apostle, by Jacob W. Elias: “We understand how stories work from the time we are three years old. And yet our scriptures and our theology are too often stripped of the high drama embedded in them, and are abstracted into systems of doctrines or principles of ethics. Thus we often misinterpret and misapply the very texts we deem authoritative.” Elias’ book… “reminds the reader that both we and Paul are characters living and acting in the extended ‘middle’ of the greatest story ever told on earth.”
Teaching His Story to Successive Generations
Indeed! The Bible is truly “the greatest story ever told,” And yet, we teach the Bible to children as though there is no single story, only stories. This article is the first in a series of articles that will address this issue and, hopefully, help Christian parents, schools, and churches develop a strategy for teaching His story to successive generations. We will discuss WHY this is important, but we’ll also provide practical suggestions for making this a reality.
We hope you’ll stick with us!
Author, Speaker, Bible Teacher
See a list of other articles by Rick Edwards.