Passing on the living Word of God to the next generation is the most important and daunting task of a children’s ministry leader. Most new teachers approach teaching the Bible with trepidation.
“I don’t know much about the Bible!” or “I haven’t been trained in teaching methods or in theology!” Maybe you think “I haven’t done this before!” or “I’m not good enough!”
Or here’s a good one, “What if I say something wrong?”
Some of God’s greatest followers didn’t feel up to the task either. When Moses heard God’s call, he complained that he had no credentials, he claimed that he didn’t know enough, he worried about failure, he didn’t speak well. And, finally in desperation, Moses begged God to send someone else!
Does this sound similar?
Such fears can be relieved through Bible study and personal spiritual growth. God does not give us tasks without His promise of help. Daily personal devotional time will strengthen us for His work.
Personal Bible Study
Study the Lessons You Teach
This may sound obvious, but if you are teaching kids, it’s important to study the lesson’s Bible story. While you may not present all that you learn to the children, studying the passage will equip you to teach, answer questions, and apply Scripture to your own life.
Begin your study early in each week so you have time to reflect on what the lesson passage is saying to you.
Some curriculum lines have devotionals and study aids in the leader’s guide. Take advantage of these gifts and use them in your personal study time. The Bible is not so mysterious that only the super saints can understand it. You’ve got this!
God wants His Word to be known! Enter your Bible study with assurance that God will open His Word and make it clear.
Establish a Regular Time and Place to Study
Try to establish a regular time and place for study. If we try to fit in study when there’s free time, there usually isn’t any. We may need to wake up a few minutes earlier, stay up a little later at night, or refrain from taking on one more activity so that we can have alone time with God.
It’s important to say no to anything that might interfere with our ability to meet with Him.
Even when people feel they can not fit lengthy uninterrupted study time into their schedules, it is important to make this time a priority. A short time every day might be great for some leaders!
In a busy family, you may be hard pressed to find quiet time—we see you! If at all possible, maybe use your children’s nap time or school time as space for study. If you work full time, maybe you squeeze it in during a lunch hour or study in a quiet office before or after work.
Some people may even be able to concentrate on the train or bus going to or from work!
No matter when, where, or how we find time, it’s important that we keep developing spiritually in Him.
Tips for How to Study
Clear the Air
Some people like to begin study time with confession. Remember that through Jesus’ sacrifice all sin is forgiven and all things are made new.
Say a brief prayer of confession and then move forward with confidence and grace.
What’s the Point?
Begin by reading through the lesson passage several times for meaning. If an overly familiar story seems dry, try reading a different translation.
Determine the Main Concept
First, what did God tell the people of that era? Second, what is God saying to me today?
An example might be when reading about Jesus telling a rich man to sell all that he owned and give it to the poor. God may be telling you to be more generous with your time or possessions. Or He might be highlighting something you are doing right!
Spend some quiet moments reflecting on the main point.
Perhaps reread a verse that was especially meaningful. Think of ways to apply the main point to situations in your daily life. Respond to God’s Word.
And there are many ways to respond! Maybe you write your thoughts in a journal or ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. Some may like to sing or paint. There’s no wrong way to respond in worship to what God is showing you.
Some may find it helpful to keep a prayer journal or underline a special verse. After considering the message of the passage for your own life, look at the lesson aims to see the suggested focus for using the lesson with children.
Begin to pray that God will help you lead your students toward that goal. Most of all, remember Jesus’ promise that the Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.
So, be sure to invite God to lead and teach you!
Get the Background
The Bible was written in another time, place, and society with many customs that are different from today’s customs. The books of the Bible were written for specific purposes and persons.
The Bible makes more sense when we know how and why each book was compiled. You can find information on the Internet, or invest in a Bible dictionary, commentary, study Bible, or reference book.
Read what scholars say about the passage. Look up Bible characters, place names, and unusual words or customs to help you gain understanding. Although it is usually not necessary or even useful to share all that background with children, it’s important that we have context for what we’re sharing if questions do come up.
Simply look for insights that help you better understand the passage.
Other Growth Opportunities
Take advantage of adult Bible studies provided outside of Sunday morning. Some might meet in homes on weeknights; others might be more formal lessons taught by a lay leader or the pastor. Find something that works for you!
Many churches offer short-term courses. If there are no classes available, contact your leadership for assistance in participating in or starting a Bible study.
Take advantage of prayer groups, prayer chains, and special worship services of prayer and praise.
Use the time to pray for the students, other teachers, your community, and for yourself. And remember, there is so much power in prayer!
Retreats or Seminars
An all-day Saturday seminar or weekend retreat is a great pick-me-up for the burned-out teacher and leader.
Take a little time away from the demands of work, family, and church to be refreshed at a retreat. If you don’t know where to start, you can always ask your leadership to recommend opportunities for Bible study conferences or retreats.
Remember that God is with you and there is nothing that He can’t do through you when you allow Him to move!