The Focus of Your Classroom

Children Desiring God Blog // The Focus of Your Classroom There are a variety of wonderfully exciting and visually appealing resources designed for the Sunday school classroom these days—high-tech digital media being just one example. There is no denying that these types of teaching tools have a special draw for children. But we must be extremely careful. As more than one pastor has cautioned the church: “What you win them with, is what you win them to.” Recently we received an encouraging note from a teacher, Yvonne, who is using the Jesus, What a Savior curriculum in her classroom. Here is what she said:

I appreciate the well thought-out lessons and the illustrations of the concepts. I like the simple, clear, and direct ways that the writer of the curriculum teaches and explains the Word. It is nourishing to me personally, and the children understand what is taught in the lessons. The lessons reach their hearts, and they are able to explain the attributes, definitions, and conceptual ideas to me. I appreciate the doctrinal depth of the curriculum at their cognitive level.

I also find that the children have not heard God described in such an elevated, supreme way before—where one delights in the many facets of His beauty, strength, and power. It does make the classroom more worshipful as we all focus on Him alone. The children do not seem to get bored, but are interested in a God who is so unique and personal. It is very different from teaching/hearing Bible stories where God is in the background somewhere, and they are bored because they've heard the stories already.

Children Desiring God Blog // The Focus of Your ClassroomWhat a beautiful description of the goal and focus of our classrooms. If we are to “win” our children to God, what must we win them “with”? God alone! Yes, there is a place for visually appealing and child-friendly “hands-on” engagement in our teaching. But, in the end, everything we do, and how we do it should focus our students’ attention on the revelation of the triune God communicated in Scripture. They need the Scriptures clearly presented and explained. They need to see the amazing message of the Gospel of Jesus given for their salvation. When all is said and done, “high energy” music won’t win them to God. Excellent videos won’t win them to God. Fun activities won’t win them to God. They need the Bible!

…from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.2 Timothy 3:15

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.—Romans 10:17

At Children Desiring God, we are committed to making God the main focus of each and every lesson by unfolding the Scriptures for children. Though each curriculum in our scope and sequence differs somewhat based on age and particular focus, all of our Sunday School, Midweek Bible, and Intergenerational curricula share the following distinctions.
  • A Big Vision of God—Our curricula aims to acquaint children with the incomparable majesty of the triune God by digging deep into His divine character as revealed throughout Scripture. We believe that children should be taught the beauty and grandeur of His manifold perfections. In completing our scope and sequence, children will have learned and explored, with increasing depth, more than 20 distinct attributes of God.
  • The Centrality of God in All Things—Every lesson in every curriculum aims to magnify the triune God above all—His name, fame, honor, and glory. We believe that children will find their greatest joy when they esteem God most. Therefore, the lessons use language, illustrations, and applications that point children toward God-adoration. Furthermore, the curricula challenge children to see that every aspect of life is to fall under centrality of God and His sovereign rule.
  • Doctrinal Depth, Accuracy, and Clarity—We believe deep biblical truths and doctrines can and should be taught to children. Doing so requires teaching truths in an accurate, clear, yet child-friendly manner. To that end, every lesson in our curricula is carefully reviewed by a highly qualified and experienced theological editor.
  • Faithfulness to the Gospel—The central message of the Bible culminates in the Person and work of Jesus—the Gospel—in which He brings sinners near to God. The Gospel is simple yet amazingly profound, freely offered yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such. We believe this is best done by repeatedly drawing attention to essential Gospel truths found throughout Scripture: God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler, God is holy, man is sinful, God is just, God is merciful, Jesus is holy and righteous, Jesus died to save sinners, etc. Every lesson presents one or more of these essential truths, and every curriculum, as a whole, clearly and explicitly presents the Gospel to children.
  • Interactive Engagement with Scripture—Using an age-appropriate, step-by-step approach, the lesson format trains students to interact with the text using proper Bible study methods. This process begins in earnest in first grade, and increases in depth and rigor as children age and mature. Furthermore, we incorporate an interactive teaching style, carefully laid out for teachers. This serves to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills aimed at a deeper understanding of the things of God and the ability to rightly apply the Word of God.
  • Age-Appropriate Visuals and Illustrations that Enhance the Learning Experience—Key truths are often more easily grasped and better understood when explained in conjunction with concrete visuals and illustrations. Our curricula offer numerous color visuals and suggested illustrations to enhance the learning process. In so doing, children are provided with opportunities to be actively involved in the lesson. These visuals and illustrations are age-appropriate, yet also treat the subject matter in an honoring manner.
  • Personal Application That Encourages a Proper Response in the Mind, Heart, and Will—Each lesson in our curricula ends by encouraging children to personally embrace and apply the truths learned. Through carefully constructed questions, we offer adult leaders practical, specific suggestions to challenge the children in their faith and spiritual walk. Our goal is to encourage genuine faith that is increasingly evidenced by love for God and spiritual fruit and good works. We also offer questions that specifically challenge unbelievers to consider the truths of Scripture.
  • Maximizing Classroom Time with Biblical Teaching and Spiritual Discussion—We believe that time in the classroom should be structured to emphasize biblical teaching and application. However, depending on the age group and time availability, additional hands-on activities may be warranted. Therefore, each lesson suggests further optional activities for the classroom. They have been developed to either reinforce lesson themes or introduce some other valuable faith-building endeavor: missions, Bible skills, Bible memory, etc.
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