It’s Fun Friday! Today’s free download is an Activity Page from The Gospel Project for Kids.
You can learn more about The Gospel Project for Kids by reading the latest Kids Ministry 101 magazine.
In a previous post we looked at the six genres Explore the Bible Kids identifies in Scripture. As we begin to walk kids systematically through God’s Word our intent is to help kids identify these six distinct genres and ways that type of writing can help boys and girls better understand God’s Word. Here is what kids can learn as they study each of the individual genres of the Bible.
Studies in Books of Law will help kids to see the commands God passed down to His people to help them grow in their relationship with God and with people. The first five books of the Bible highlight God’s people’s struggle to be obedient to His commands and will help kids to see how God honored the people when they were obedient. Obedience to God’s laws will help people grow closer to God.
Studies in Books of History will take kids on a discovery of both the Old and New Testaments. These books of History help identify how God’s people implemented the laws and commands God gave them. Giving further evidence of God’s peoples struggle to be obedient, the books of History identify consequences and reveal again the blessing that comes through obedience.
Studies in Books of Poetry and Wisdom introduce boys and girls to the quiet poetic nature of these writings that show God for who He is—creator, solid rock, strong deliverer, and Savior. Some of these books were written over centuries and by many authors helping kids to see the importance Israel placed on God’s Word through history, and helping identify ways Scripture can be a light for their path.
Studies in Books of Prophecy reveal how God used people in both Old Testament and New Testament times to reveal God’s plan for the future. Old Testament prophecy looked forward to the day when Christ would come and be the sacrifice the people needed to solidify their relationship with God almighty. New Testament prophecy looks forward to the return of Christ and the glorious culmination of God’s plan for people to live with Him forever.
Studies in the Books of Gospels show Jesus Christ to be the promised Savior for people. As God promised through the Old Testament prophets, Jesus was born, lived a perfect sinless life, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin, and rose again to show victory over sin. Boys and girls will learn through these studies what a relationship with God looks like and how they can be a part of the kingdom of God.
Studies in the Books of Letters identify the way early churches passed the Word from one place to another. These books expound on God’s commands as they applied to New Testament believers. Kids will learn through these studies how God wants them to live today to bring honor and glory to His name.
God inspired men to write the words of Scripture so His commands and desires for people’s lives would be revealed. Through various forms of literature God’s Word can be studied in various ways, each leading to a fulfilled relationship with Him when His commands are followed.
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 Karen Jones
When I was a Kids Minister searching for a curriculum to use in my ministry, my first task was to look at a curriculum’s scope and sequence. A curriculum’s scope and sequence is simply its plan. Scope indicates the content the curriculum intends to cover. Sequence indicates the order in which the content will be covered. Looking at a curriculum’s scope and sequence will help you make a quick decision if the curriculum is worth considering for your ministry or not.
First of all, it should be clear that the curriculum is teaching the Bible. You should see specific Books of the Bible and passages covered. If that isn’t readily apparent, move on.
Once you are sure you are looking at a Bible-based curriculum, look at the parts of the Bible it covers. Does it spend ample time in both the New Testament and the Old Testament? Does it include a variety of Biblical genres? Are there Books of the Bible avoided altogether? When Paul is giving his farewell to the Epheisan elders in Acts 20, he says, “Therefore I declare to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, because I did not avoid declaring to you the whole plan of God.” I love how the ESV renders that last phrase, “the whole counsel of God.” Let’s be sure to give the children we serve “the whole counsel of God.”
Once you are satisfied with the scope of the curriculum, take a look at its sequence. How long will it take to move through the curriculum? At what age will a child who started the curriculum, finish the curriculum? How long does the curriculum spend in different Books of the Bible? More practically, what is the time span you want this curriculum to cover? If you want a six-week curriculum, a curriculum with a three-year session plan, won’t be a quick fit, but could it be adapted to work?
When I first came to Lifeway, I was impressed and encouraged by the amount of careful consideration and deliberation that goes into planning each scope and sequence for the curriculums we produce. As an editor for The Gospel Project for Kids, I know firsthand the number of hours and voices that go into our three-year chronological scope and sequence. We are careful to spend a year and a half each in the Old and New Testaments. Our three-year plan ensures that a child will hear the complete story of redemption three times: as a preschooler, younger elementary, and older elementary student.
My friends on the Bible Studies for Life Kids team are just as serious about their three year study plan. They use the Levels of Biblical Learning as their guide to make sure 10 biblical concept areas—God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Bible, Salvation, Creation, Church, People, Family, Community & World—are presented through eight different age ranges, from infancy through high school, and reflect levels of understanding that follow how God designed children to learn.
My friends on the Explore the Bible Kids team believe every kid is worthy of every Book of the Bible, not just the ones that are easiest to read. Their scope and sequence takes them through every Book of the Bible in five years. They lead kids to practice the routines and skills required to better read, know, and apply God’s Word.
What are other things you consider as you choose curriculum for your ministry?
By Ken Hindman
One of the critical responsibilities you have as a leader of preschool and children’s ministry is choosing great curriculum. You need to choose a curriculum that fits your discipleship and spiritual education needs for the kids at your church. For the past 30 years, I have witnessed a flood of curriculum resources targeted to kids. Let’s face it, the resources provided for kids is big business. This provides you with many options to consider, but is having these options always the best? Here are a few things to consider as you select curriculum for preschool and children’s ministry:
Joshua 1:9 states the following, “As for me and my house, I am going to choose to serve the Lord.” For myself, and the ministry I lead, the curriculum of choice is Bible Studies for Life produced by Lifeway. We use this curriculum because it meets all of the requirements I have mentioned. Plus, it provides colorful take home pages for kids, online support, curriculum resources for Babies, Ones and Twos, curriculum in Spanish, and curriculum for all ages of special needs learners.
Ken Hindman serves as the Children’s Pastor at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tennessee. He has served in preschool and children’s ministry for twenty-six years. He is a graduate of The University of Alabama with a BS degree in Childhood Education. Ken and his wife, Kristina, live in Arlington, Tennessee with their two sons, Mack (20) and David (18). He was named Staff Member of the Year in 2003 by the Tennessee Baptist Convention. Ken is the creator of Marketplace, a hands-on biblical learning experience for kids. Ken has designed a variety of programs for preschoolers, children, and families such as Resurrection Journey, Kid$ense, Creation Station, TeamKid Camp, Fall Fun Fest, and Journey to Bethlehem.
As COVID-19 has forced churches to forgo meeting on campuses forcing kids ministries to cancel egg hunts, programs, and other critical ministry events, many kids ministry leaders are wondering what to do for Easter. How can we serve our families and communities during such an important time of the year? The Gospel Project wants to help with a free ministry resource.
This time when so many families are home round the clock has made ministry challenging, but perhaps we can find a silver lining in it. What if we saw this as an opportunity for us as kids ministry leaders to serve the family in a unique way and provide a Resurrection experience that we probably could not do otherwise? What if we provided five online gatherings for us to serve our families in the home during Easter week? Not five Sundays of teaching kids. Not a one morning egg hunt event—but five opportunities within eight days to connect with our kids and families, bringing us together with them and them together with one another.
That is what the 2020 Family Easter Event is all about. This Family Easter Event will allow you to walk through the story of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as it happened during the week. You will begin with the Triumphal Entry the Sunday before Easter. You will celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Thursday, then the crucifixion, resurrection, and appearances of Jesus in the order they occurred.
While not all of the activities in the leader guide will work in the home, here are several to consider using during your online gatherings or suggesting families do together afterward.
**Note: Not all items referenced in the Leader Guide (such as missions videos and activity printables) are included for this event. These are not provided to keep things as simple as possible for you as a ministry leader as you quickly develop an online event. **
These are difficult times for all of us. At no time in many of our memories has a single event touched every person on Earth. And let’s be honest: the gravity of this current crisis can feel overwhelming—especially when our worship gatherings are canceled. Even though we are not meeting together in person, we have a great opportunity to minister to kids and families in new ways during this unusual season. Many are leveraging digital content and delivery systems to spur on discipleship.
To help you accomplish this, Lifeway is temporarily providing current Bible study sessions from Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible, and The Gospel Project to churches, groups, and families for FREE.
We developed Lifeway Kids at Home (available FREE at digitalpass.lifeway.com) as a family viewing resource for parents to use with their kids at home, but wanted to also have a resource to equip church leaders to curate, customize and distribute the Bible studies they use every week in Sunday School.
Get Started With Digital Curriculum
Why Digital Curriculum?
Whether you’re familiar with print or digital resources from Lifeway, this new enhanced digital curriculum experience makes discipleship during social distancing easy, allowing you to:
How Does it Work?
Using this digital curriculum is simple! Here’s what you need to do:
Set up your church’s organization. In order to share this digital curriculum with your people, you will need to create a Ministry Grid organization that allows you to organize and share curriculum.
View and customize your sessions. The digital curriculum provided is completely customizable to fit your church’s context. You can add additional teaching components, activities and discussion questions.
Share curriculum with families to access at home. Once the curriculum is ready to share, send your people an email from within the platform, or share a link and they will receive the digital curriculum on any device.
Intentional Discipleship Made Easier
These times are difficult, but growing together doesn’t need to be. Keep growing by logging in at curriculum.lifeway.com today.
When some kids leaders hear the word story, they hear fiction. It is not surprising then that there is a reluctance to calling what we teach kids a Bible story. Some go further and think it is wrong and even dangerous to use Bible story, believing that it leads kids to think of the Bible as a work of fiction. But is it? There just might be more to this story than meets the eye.
The Gospel Project uses the word story quite a bit. Each session has a Bible story. And we always remind kids that the Bible story each week is part of God’s one big story of Scripture. We aren’t alone in using this phrase; other curriculums do as well. But should we? Are we being unwise, or even harmful, by calling passages Bible stories? Some think we are.
For some, story is synonymous with a work of fiction. When they hear story they hear fairy tale, myth, or a fable. It is unwise, dangerous, or even wrong then to use story in relation to the Bible. When we do, we communicate to kids that the Bible is untrue.
Let me pause here and clarify that we at The Gospel Project would certainly hold to the belief that the Bible is absolutely true. That is a deeply held value of ours and it is a big part of what drives our crafting of that resource. Why then do we choose to use story? Because story is a good word to describe the Bible and it is a helpful word to build bridges with our culture, which uses story in many different meaningful ways.
What Story Means
Here is the first definition of story according to Merriam-Webster:
a. an account of incidents or events
b. a statement regarding the facts pertinent to a situation in question.
As you can see, aside from definition 1c, story is a good word for what is in the Bible. (This will likely blow your mind: myth does not primarily mean something fictional either, which is why you might hear theologians use it at times in reference to the Bible as well, such as the creation myth in Genesis 1-2.) When we use story in relation to the Bible, we are telling kids an account of the incidents or events of God’s plan to rescue people through Jesus Christ. That is one reason why I like story: it connects every passage we study to the overall narrative of Scripture. One alternative word I hear suggested quite often is lesson. That’s not a bad word in many ways, but my concern with using that term is that it can give kids the wrong idea of what the Bible is all about. The Bible is not a collection of unrelated, self-contained lessons to be covered in 60 minutes or so. It is one big story.
How We Use Story in Our Culture
But let’s move beyond the dictionary and consider how we use story in everyday life.
When I was a journalist, I wrote news stories.
Facebook has “Top Stories” and a “Stories” feature for people to share what is going on in their lives.
Someone might ask you to tell them your story. You surely would not make up a work of fiction about yourself on the spot. You would know they want to know who you are.
You might tell your children the story of how you met your spouse or when they were born.
As we can see, our culture uses story quite often in a way that clearly means real story. This is another reason why I like story: It connects with the people we are trying to reach and it is deep within our wiring. Ever wonder why Hollywood is so successful? Because humans are drawn to stories.
How We Use Story in Our Faith
But the case for story gets even stronger when we consider its use in relation to our faith.
The word story appears in some of the beloved hymns many of us grew up singing. “I Love to Tell the Story.” “Tell Me the Old, Old Story.” “You are Called to Tell the Story.” When we sing these hymns, we know they are not positioning the Bible as fiction. We know that story means true story.
But here is the most important reason why story is a good word for us to use: the Bible uses it. That’s right, the Bible uses story to mean true events.
If the Bible uses story and many hymns we sang include story without leading us astray, we should not be afraid of using this word.
Story is not a bad word at all. It is not a dangerous word. And it is not an unwise word. It’s a good word. Do you have to use story? Of course not. But neither should we think those who do are being unfaithful to Scripture. But for those of us who do use story, we need to recognize that the word can be used to mean a work of fiction. Because of this, let’s be wise and pair story with true at least at times. But if the only way the kids know we believe the Bible is true is by our use of a word or phrase to introduce what we are about to read from it, we have bigger issues to consider in what and how we are teaching and how we are living. Our kids should know the Bible is true primarily because they see its truth lived out in and through the story we are living.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to Lifeway. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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:
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.
Chances are, you have an incredible plan to disciple the kids in your ministry. If not, let me encourage you to find one and implement it to ensure that children of all ages are learning the Bible in a way that makes sense for their age group. Haphazard discipleship and cherry-picking favorite Bible stories to teach randomly doesn’t really work. Need a plan? Check out Lifeway.com/LOBL to learn more about one of our favorite discipleship frameworks—the Levels of Biblical Learning.
However, once you have a plan, it’s important not to stop there—share this plan with the parents in your ministry. They need to partner with you by discipling their children at home. Make it easy on them by giving them the same framework that you implement at church. Together, the church and home can partner for more effective spiritual growth in kids!
One of the best ways you can do this is by posting this plan in a format where parents and teachers can clearly see what you have planned for each age group. This is why we produce the Levels of Biblical Learning in multiple formats—including free on the website and app, booklet form for individual use, and poster form for classroom and common space use (or even your office!).
I’d like to give away a package of posters to three winners on the blog today. They come in a package of 12, so you can plaster your walls for parents to see your plan! To enter the giveaway, simply complete the form here and three winners will be randomly selected.
Here’s to great discipleship at church—and home!