Children’s leaders, together with pastors and others in our believing communities, need to search for answers to these questions (and more that will be asked in the future) to fully equip themselves to serve children in this rapidly changing world.
What kind of teacher can help a child grow strong in faith for a lifetime? The story of Nehemiah offers powerful insight. Remember the story? As the people worked to rebuild the temple, they discovered they Book of the Law. It had been hidden away for years.
Nehemiah called all the people together. Ezra and his team of temple leaders took the lead. “They read from the Book of the Law of God, making clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read” (Nehemiah 8:8 NIV).
This is the job of our teachers. They need to know God’s Word deeply for themselves, then help children understand. Often, this means using creativity, humor, stories, object lessons, puppets, drama – whatever creative communication tools might be available – to help children understand the truth from God’s Word. The message needs to be translated into a language all children can understand. In every community I’ve visited, this always includes fun and humor.
So what kind of impact can this teaching have? Several verses later in Nehemiah, we read that the people wept. They repented. They understood the truth from God’s law, and wanted to live in new ways. The teaching resulted in a change of behavior. They were transformed.
Is this what happens when we teach? Is this the kind of teaching that takes place in our churches?
As people teach children, they also grow themselves. One teacher in Africa said, “I used to always narrate Bible stories to children every Sunday when I met with them, but now I need to help them apply the Bible truth of each story to their lives. This has changed my own personal life a great deal as well as the life of my children.”
I believe we need excellent teachers more than ever. Kids do not need simple childcare. They need prepared, trained, mature, knowledgeable, genuine, growing – and tremendously fund and enjoyable people – to help them grow to love Jesus the most. [Page 188]
Source: Sylvia Foth, Daddy Are We There Yet? (A global check-in on the world of mission and kids), Kidzana Ministries, Mukilteo, 2009