God created the world and everything in it. Help kids learn fun facts about God’s creation with this page from Explore the Bible: Kids.
Genre is defined as a grouping of, in the case of the Bible, literature, which is similar in form, style, or subject matter. The Bible is not a single book, but a collection of sixty-six books bound together. Together these smaller books make up the whole of God’s written revelation of Himself to man. The Bible is a literary work, organized by genre, to help guide our understanding of God’s revelation as we read the stories contained in it. Understanding biblical genre and giving kids opportunity to experience each type will help boys and girls on their journey of interacting with God through His Word.
Each genre of Scripture is unique, and helping kids discover why the books of the Bible are grouped the way they are will lead kids to a better understanding of why that particular book is even in the Bible. Biblical genres help to inform the interpretation of certain passages of Scripture. Genre studies will also guide an understanding of the context of individual passages studied. Together, these helps will make Bible study for kids alive!
Explore the Bible Kids identifies six genres as we guide kids to dig deep into God’s Word. These six genres are Law, History, Poetry & Wisdom, Prophecy, Gospels, and Letters. Books of Law reveal God’s rules for faithful life. History books record the history of God’s chosen nation, Israel, and how their walk with Him can inform our daily walk with Him as well. Poetry & Wisdom books reveal how people can communicate with God and helpful tools for living God-honoring lives. Prophecy books reveal God’s plan for the future. Old Testament prophecy books reveal Israel’s future, and New Testament prophecy looks forward to Christ’s return. The Gospels share God’s redemption though the person of Jesus Christ. These books center on Jesus’ life and the sacrifice He made to provide salvation to all who come to Him. Finally, Letters written to churches and individuals illuminate further how Christians can live daily to follow God.
Each genre will be expanded on in coming posts. Take some time and discover why each type of literature is important for kids and how teaching through genre will help kids better understand each book they study.
by Shelly Harris
Many families are staying at home, but that doesn’t mean that Bible learning stops. In fact as kids’ ministry leaders, we can equip parents to engage their kids in Bible learning. Here is a fun game you can provide parents to help them lead their kids’ spiritual formation.
Game Supplies: basket, honey, water, plant, stuffed animal, cotton balls/wool item, something with wheels, candle, toy boat, bread/cracker, first aid kit, a rock, a Bible
Instructions: Allow kids to search for the needed items. You may want to assign each kid specific items to find to ensure that everyone is able to participate. Then challenge family members to name Bible stories that are related to the item. Keep a count as you play to see which item had the most Bible story connections. Family members can name a Bible story more than once as long as it connects to each item.
Basket: Baby Moses, Paul Escaped Damascus, The Sermon on the Mount, Amos’ Visions
Honey: Samson, John the Baptist
Water: The Red Sea, The Parting of the Jordan River, Jesus’ Baptism, Noah
Stuffed animal: Noah, Creation, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, The Triumphal Entry, Peter and Cornelius
Plant: Creation, Baby Moses, The New Creation
Cotton balls/Wool item: The Good Shepherd, David, The Shepherds Visited Baby Jesus
Something with Wheels: Philip and the Ethiopian, Elijah and the Whirlwind, The Red Sea
Candle: The Fiery Furnace, God Led the Israelites, Elijah on Mount Carmel
Toy boat: Jesus Calmed a Storm, Jesus and the Disciples Ate Breakfast
Bread/Cracker: Passover, Jesus Fed 5000, God Provided Manna, Elijah and the Widow’s Oil
First Aid Kit: Jesus Healed Ten Lepers, Jesus Healed Blind Bartimaeus, Elisha Raised the Widow’s Son, Namaan Was Healed
Rock: Water from a Rock, Crossing the Jordan, The Temptation of Jesus, Lazarus, Jesus’ Resurrection
Discussion: Conclude the game by reminding kids of these Bible truths: The Bible helps us know more about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Bible truths never change. The Bible teaches us how to live. The Bible tells that God sent Jesus to earth because He loves all people.
Game Option: You can also play this game by naming a Bible story and leading kids to search for an item that reminds them of the story.
By Shelly Harris
We practice Bible skills at church, but how often do we encourage families to practice Bible skills at home? Right now families are spending more time at home together. This is a great time to help families develop Bible skills with their boys and girls. Invite families to try these suggested activities.
- Encourage babies/toddlers to touch the Bible as you share that it is a special book.
- Using your hand to guide their hands, help babies and toddlers to turn the pages of the Bible. As you turn, point out the names of the Bible books or names in the Bible (such as Adam, Eve, God, Jesus, Moses, Peter).
- Tell a brief Bible story.
- Write the name of a Bible person on a piece of paper and help preschoolers find a matching name in the Bible.
- Gather toy musical instruments or pots and pans and create a rhythm while you practice saying a Bible verse or phrase of a Bible verse.
- Place a Bible marker in the Bible at a verse (example: 1 John 4:16b). Help your preschooler open to the verse and practice repeating the words or phrase after you (example: God is love).
- Name a book of the Bible for younger kids to find in their own Bible. Help them use the table of contents as needed.
- Select a verse and challenge kids to memorize it (examples: Psalm 56:3 or Ephesians 4:32). Find fun and unexpected places to write the verse to help them remember the challenge (on the bathroom mirror with a dry erase marker, on a notecard taped to the pantry door).
- Help kids develop the habit of daily Bible reading by helping them select a book of the Bible to read a chapter from each day.
- Guide kids to use a Bible atlas, the maps in the back of a Bible, or a map online to locate important Bible places (Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, the Sea of Galilee).
- Challenge boys and girls to open to a Bible book you name on their first flip or turn.
- Name a Bible book and invite kids to name the book that comes before and the book that comes after.
While Explore the Bible: Kids is a great tool for kids and teachers alike, sometimes it’s time for a bit of a change. With our unwavering emphasis on Bible skills and the familiar book by book approach to teaching the Bible, kids are still encouraged to dig deep into God’s Word. You might be wondering what Explore the Bible: Kids in Fall 2020 will look like. Here are a few of the updates coming that might pique your interest:
- Added emphasis on missions: Each week will include a mission activity as part of the session. Preschoolers and kids will have an opportunity to learn, through activity or video, about a missionary family and how that family is involved teaching people about Jesus.
- Color, color, color: You are used to the bright, eye catching color palate that Explore the Bible: Kids is known for, but our kids Explorer Guides will be getting a refresh of color while adding an abundance of white space, making it easier for kids to interact with the pages of these valuable resources.
- Reaffirmed emphasis on biblical literacy: To engage kids with Scripture memory, Explore the Bible: Kids will have a monthly memory verse that will relate to the content being studied that month to give kids a better way to treasure God’s Word in their lives. For kids who memorize quickly, weekly verse options are still given to make your Scripture memory time the best for all learners.
- Enhanced study plan: The new study plan for Explore the Bible: Kids (soon to be released) will offer preschoolers and kids an opportunity to study all 66 books of the Bible multiple times from preschool through their elementary ages.
Though much of what you love about Explore the Bible: Kids will remain the same we hope that these updates will enhance your teaching of Explore the Bible: Kids and give the kids you teach a deep desire to know God’s Word. Thanks for praying for our team as we seek to provide resources that meet the needs of your unique ministries.
As the new year approaches, we (adults) often get ready to start a new Bible reading plan. While 89% of households own a Bible, only 19% of protestant churchgoers read the Bible daily.* Yikes!
We also know that the most influential factor in a child developing a lifelong faith is regularly reading their Bible while growing up.* This year, why not help kids start the new year off developing the discipline of daily Bible reading.
One of the easiest ways to help kids develop the spiritual discipline of Bible reading is to allow them to create a Bible Reading Journal.
Here’s what you need: blank books, washi tape in colorful patterns, duct tape in colorful patterns, permanent markers, and pencils. Give each kid a blank book and encourage them to use the various tapes and markers to create a cover for their new Bible Reading Journal.
After kids create their journals, ask kids to write on the first page these prompts to use while they are reading their Bibles.
- Who is this passage about?
- What was God doing in this passage?
- Is there a command in this passage I should obey? What is that command?
- Do I have a question about the passage? Write them down.
Challenge kids to start with the Book of Mark. Each day they should read one section or chapter of the book and use their journals to record what they are learning.
*Statistics quoted from Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith by Jane Magruder.
Recently, a colleague in children’s ministry reached out to me after she read Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in a Lifetime of Faith. She was encouraged to see that the book touches on themes she had implemented in her church in Texas. I invited Erin Woodfin to share her story with you.
I began reading the book of Judges in my quiet time and kept coming across the fact that it only took a generation for the Israelites to forget about the glorious deeds of the Lord. Judges 2:10 says, “And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.” This verse spoke to me and I began to think about my own child and the children who come to our church. I began to realize that the reason a generation arose who did not know the Lord was because the parents and teachers had failed to do what God had called them to do. They did not carry out the verse in Psalm 78:4. They did not tell to the coming generation the things the Lord had done. I began to be convicted and committed that this would not happen on our watch. So the phrase “NOT ON OUR WATCH” kept playing over and over in my head. “NOT ON OUR WATCH” will a generation arise that does not know the glorious deeds of the Lord. Together we will raise up a generation who knows the Lord and the glorious things he has done. I never want families to forget, I never want children to forget the glorious deeds of the Lord. Practically for our church, we did this in three ways:
When we launched the NOT ON OUR WATCH vision to our Kids Ministry Volunteers, we went all out. We got shirts, cups, bracelets, you name it we had it. I wanted my volunteers to know that this was something I wanted them to push hard. I wanted them to know the time they spent with children was not just glorified babysitting but that it was Kingdom work. I used Psalm 78:4 in almost every conversation I had with a volunteer and wanted them to have that verse memorized by the time the year was over. I saw so much excitement in the lives of my volunteers because, for the first time, they felt as though their position mattered and was playing a huge roll in the spiritual development of children. If I wanted the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision to take off, I knew my volunteers were going to have to sell it for me.
Training of volunteers is the largest part of what we do in Children’s Ministry. A well-trained volunteer is the lifeblood of your ministry. The year we ran with the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision, I had several other children’s leaders who I trusted come in and help me with training. Sometimes we as children’s ministers say the same thing over and over again, but bringing in someone with the same passions can excite the volunteers in your ministry.
One of the other things we incorporated that year was a time for me to meet with all my volunteers. While my small group leaders were with the children, I would meet with my ministry team leaders. In these meetings, we would pray together, take care of any housekeeping matters, dream together, and talk about ways we could improve things. This was also a time I would use to train and encourage my volunteers. I would also let them tell me things that were working for them or things that were frustrating. It allowed me time to be able to minister to my precious volunteers. A well trained and loved on volunteer will take your ministry to a whole new level.
When we launched the “NOT ON OUR WATCH” vision I knew I would need better parent involvement. Parent involvement is always something that is challenging for ministers. However, I believe there are changes that can be made to increase parent involvement in your ministry. Curriculum choice is one of the main ways to get parents involved. Choosing a curriculum that has multiple ways of getting parents involved is the way to go. We use the Gospel Project, which has several ways of connecting with parents. They have take-home sheets, information for weekly emails, and even an app to make things even easier for parents on-the-go.
Another way parents are encouraged to be involved is by my volunteers reaching out to families each week. My volunteers reach out in the form of handwritten cards, texts, or phone calls. This constant communication with parents shows them they are not alone in the discipleship process. We want them to know we are in the trenches with them.
Children’s ministry is the best and most exhausting job on the planet. However, with the right vision for your volunteers who are trained and loved on well, and good parent involvement, your ministry will become something that is life-giving. Remember, “NOT ON OUR WATCH” will there come a generation that does not know the Lord. We will stop at nothing to make sure children know the glorious deeds of the Lord. We are equipped to do what God has called us to do. Let’s face this challenge head-on and refuse to fail. Children will be discipled, families will be changed, and the Kingdom will grow.
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Psalm 78:4
Erin is the children’s minister at Immanuel Baptist Church in Marshall, TX. She is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Erin is passionate about finding ways to creatively engage children and help point them to Jesus. She also enjoys writing, running, a hot cup of coffee, and watching baseball with her husband Michael and their two precious daughters.
I am honored to host friend and colleague in ministry, Josh Waugh this week. Josh is a worship pastor who discovered the Nothing Less research that lists Bible reading and listening to Christian music as two indicators of spiritual health in kids. This inspired him to combine the two that led to an amazing outcome. I welcome you to read his story and send us your own stories about how Nothing Less has inspired some things you’ve tried in ministry.
How to Combine Scripture and Music for Kids
I had a lightbulb moment this past year that completely changed how I thought about children’s choir and involving kids in music and worship!
When the book Nothing Less: Engaging Kids in A Lifetime of Faith came out, some of our staff was able to go through it and talk about the findings. As a worship pastor, one of the conclusions that stuck out to me was the role of music in a child’s faith development. In this study, the research found a trend among young adults that Christian music was one of the top five positive influencers on children keeping the faith into young adulthood. The number one positive influencer was reading the Bible.
When I was growing up, I loved watching Captain Planet. It was so cool to think about having the power of earth, wind, or fire in a ring on your hand (except for the power of heart … that was always the weird one no one wanted). Combined together, they were unstoppable!
That’s when the lightbulb came on! What if we combined the power of Scripture and music for our kids? What if music could be the vehicle for reading the Bible and hiding it in their heart (Psalm 119:11)?
I met with our children’s choir director and shared with her my lightbulb moment. We could help our 4th and 5th graders have a better understanding of God and Scripture by combining music with actual verses from the Bible.
So that’s what we did! Here’s how:
- We taught songs filled with Scripture. Our pastor was preaching through the book of Galatians verse-by-verse. From those sermons and themes, we found Scripture memory songs and worship music that utilized word-for-word portions of Galatians.
- We created kid-friendly motions with the music. They learned motions to the songs and even memorized Scripture verses for spoken transitions to be used in a service.
- We made it fun for the kids! We turned this into a fun, recording project for the kids at the church. The music CDs they recorded turned into a free resource for our families to memorize Scripture through song.
And now, another Captain Planet moment (my inner child was really excited), “With our powers combined …” we prepared our 4th and 5th graders to lead worship for our entire church with the adult band.
The adults were learning the book of Galatians from our Pastor on Sunday mornings. The kids were learning songs from the book of Galatians on Wednesday nights. We now had a multigenerational approach to music, worship, and reading the Bible. Kids and adults were memorizing Scripture together. With our combined forces, we created a CD and Sunday worship service called, “No Other Gospel: Songs from Galatians.”
When those 4th and 5th graders led Sunday morning worship for our entire church, it was powerful! That was a big win. But there is something else I am more excited about.
I want to know what will happen in the lives of these kids and families 10 years from now. What if these kids are keeping the faith because they read their Bible more … and they learned it through music. I believe, “With our powers combined …” God can use the next generation to change our world! The first step can be combining the power of Scripture with the power of music.
What are some things you can do in your ministry that help kids and families memorize Scripture together and read the Bible more? How do you involve music in your children’s ministry?
Josh Waugh is the Associate Worship Pastor at First Baptist Church of Hendersonville, Tennessee and a graduate of Samford University. He leads the band for weekend worship services and works with the Next Gen worship teams. Originally from Florida, Josh moved to the Nashville area with his wife, Susie, and their two daughters in 2016.
Hebrews 4:12 says that God’s Word is living and effective. When you hear these two words, what comes to mind? Do they seem foreign as they apply to an inanimate object like the Bible? When the writer of Hebrews called the Bible living what did he mean and how can we take the living Word and help it shape the lives of boys and girls?
Obviously, the writer’s intent is not to imply that the Bible itself breathes, thinks, or in our understanding of life, is alive, but the Bible indeed is living. The end of Hebrews 4:12 shows how life comes from the Bible when the author says that God’s Word “is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” When leading conferences I like to ask conferees why they continue to read the Bible. Why not just read it once and be done with it? The reason is clear—because God’s Word means something new to us each time we read it. The Spirit of God highlights for our souls what we need to hear from God as we read His living Word! Experiencing God’s Word in such a way should guide our teaching as we help kids allow the Bible to impact their lives. Here are a few ways you can help guide kids to understand and appreciate God’s living Word.
- Teach kids that God’s Word is inspired. Help them understand what this means. God’s Word came by human pen through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, God’s Word represents the actual words God intended for people to read. God inspired the words that kids can read as they open their Bibles.
- Teach kids what a daily discipline of Bible study looks like. Encourage girls and boys to begin a simple daily time of Bible reading. Once kids understand the importance of daily Bible reading, challenge them to begin deeper study into God’s Word.
- Teach kids the wonderful things that the Bible teaches about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and daily life. As you are excited to share the truths of the Bible, kids can learn to be excited to open God’s Word and dig deeper into its pages.
- Provide resources that help kids know what God’s Word teaches. As a living Word, the Bible speaks to many issues or circumstances kids are faced with. Guide kids to find how God’s Word teaches about issues they are challenged by and help them remember how to use the Bible to guide them in their daily walk.
God’s Word is living and effective. As kids begin to understand how God’s living Word affects their lives they will desire deeper understanding and see the impact of the Bible on their lives. Take seriously the role you play in guiding girls and boys to cherish God’s Word.
Tim Pollard is passionate about helping kids dig deep into Scripture, which he pursues through his daily work as leader of the Explore the Bible: Kids team. Tim lives with his wife and daughters in Mount Juliet, TN.
The makers of Explore the Bible would like to introduce to you a brand new resource that will provide fun and exciting ways to help leaders guide boys and girls to engage with God’s Word. While this timeline comes from the makers of Explore the Bible it is not unique to just those users. We hear from leaders from time to time who ask us to provide help for kids who struggle with understanding how all of God’s Word fits together. We have always tried to help kids understand the different types of literature God’s Word is written in and give them a glimpse into each of these genres of Scripture. This resource will do just that and … you can purchase it today! The Bible Timeline for Kids will help guide your kids explorations and maybe answer questions they might have about people and places in Scripture.
The Bible Timeline for Kids is a useful resource that is filled with colorful, engaging visuals built across a timeline of history. Each pack contains 12 posters that, when hung side-by-side, display the full timeline of history. The top of the chart clearly labels the time period in history and each of the 66 books of the Bible are highlighted along the timeline so you can help kids see when the events they are studying actually happened. The events of each book can be compared to other events in history that kids could be familiar with. A leaders ability to highlight where a particular Scripture passage happened, and shift to another time period in subsequent weeks, will guide kids to be able to swiftly understand how God spoke to people through all of history.
If you have used this resource already, we would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment and let us know what you think!
Tim Pollard teaches 3rd graders at Tulip Grove Baptist Church. He’s passionate about helping kids dig deep into Scripture, which he pursues through his daily work as leader of the Explore the Bible: Kids team. Tim lives with his wife and daughters in Mount Juliet, TN.
Looking for a last minute gift for your Bible study teachers? The Bible Timeline for Kids would be an excellent choice!