One of the things that have changed in my teaching over the years is the time I spend in preparation—I spend more time preparing. Preparing by...
- Reading through the lesson, looking up the Scriptures, meditating on the key themes, and praying that God would work in my own heart.
- Thinking through how I will engage the students in meaningful ways throughout the lesson.
- Gathering and preparing all necessary visuals.
But in the past, there was something that I often missed in my preparation that I now spend more time doing...
- Thinking through real-life experiences in which God really "drove home" a particular biblical truth.
Here is an example of what I mean by this: I was teaching a lesson on God being a refuge for all who trust in Him. He is a place of safety and protection for His people. At the end of the lesson, I showed the children a picture of my son in full combat gear and explained to the children that he was far away at war. I asked:
Could his helmet and all the protection he is wearing protect him from everything? No. He could still get hurt very badly. He could even die. And all of that protection couldn't keep him safe from even more dangerous things like Satan, sin, and hell. So should I be worried and scared? No, because my son is trusting in God as His refuge! Jesus will protect him from the most dangerous things and keep my son safe. Even if he dies, he would go to heaven and live forever in God's perfect refuge: heaven! God is a refuge for everyone who will trust in Him.
The above example took only one minute to present and was directly related to the main themes presented in the lesson. The children became absolutely quiet as I shared this example. They all tuned in to listen carefully. In my experience, no matter what age, children and youth really pay attention to things we share from our heart. It serves to reinforce that the Bible truly is living and active. It's just not some story or historical account. The Bible— and especially the God of the Bible—shapes and transforms our thoughts, feelings, words, and actions. Jesus is a living Savior.
So that is one thing that I intentionally look for as I prepare for every lesson: opportunities to quickly (no more than a minute or two) and appropriately share a real-life experience.
(This image is a work of a U.S. Air Force Airman or employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image or file is in the public domain.)