The Distaff
Bible Class or Activities Class
Which Is It?

Twilah Reeves


Introduction

In this article, I will be limiting myself to teaching children the Bible in the classes arranged by the local church. The basic need for parents to teach their children at home is not in this purview. Also, my comments are mainly directed to the classes for children up to about eight years of age; that is, for that age group in which so many "activities" apart from actual Bible instruction are commonly employed.

What used to be Bible class has in recent decades deteriorated into classes for physical activities. As a result many children of the present generation are not learning the Bible in these classes. At best they are learning some things about the Bible, but not the Bible itself! That which started out as "helps" for Bible study has supplanted the Bible study, and now the "helps" are in the forefront and the Bible is in the background as far as emphasis and actual involvement is concerned. We have put the cart before the horse! Today's children are all hyped up, overly excited, and conditioned to constant motion, physical activity and noise. They do not know what quiet, attentive, Bible learning is. Most young teachers don't know themselves! Today's environment in many Bible classrooms consists of circular tables (which are not conducive to a child's concentrating on the teacher's presentation), desk tops covered with crayons, scissors, construction paper, paste, craft items, and other such "helps." Children move about the room freely, working in group projects, talking, chewing gum, laughing and handling different materials for the "project." Teachers' helpers are running back and forth to a "resources room" to get supplies, run the copier, laminate, and do other similar tasks. (These helpers ought to be in adult Bible classes, learning themselves!) When the class is over, the children gather up their crafts or hand-made projects and head out to show to their parents "what we learned in Bible class today"!

The thrust of this article is to call attention to the substitution of the Bible class with what has become more properly a kindergarten, an entertainment period, an activities hour, and a manual arts session. Bible learning with the mind has been supplanted by creativity with the hands. We need to ask ourselves, what is it all about? Is it a Bible class, or an activities class?

It should be noted that there is a place for "helps" (large Bible maps, charts or posters showing the books of the Bible, and the like). I am not advocating a classroom devoid of all visual aids. I am not saying that there is no place for a workbook of some kind. However, aids to the Bible have taken over the Bible itself and often the children do not even recognize that they are related to some Bible story. What should be foremost in a Bible class is the Bible! How can we instill a greater love and reverence for the Bible to our children when we teach them in our Bible classes? We can do it by using the Bible itself as our "workbook," so that it is primary in our minds, and by limiting other materials to mere helps of little comparative significance.

An Actual Case History

Some General Observations
(No special importance is implied in the following order.)

Conclusion

Parents: concerning the Bible classes in the local congregation, love your children enough to see to it at home, long before the class hour, that the children have their Bible class lessons ready, that they understand why they are going to the classes, what is expected of them, and otherwise show your interest in their learning great lessons from the Word of God. After each class, ask them about what they learned and encourage them in making application of the lessons. Finally, exalt the Bible before them in your own daily use of it.


e-mail this author at blaitch@aol.com

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