The Second of Six Articles Supporting
God’s Unfolding Story for Older Preschoolers
The Biblical Story – Putting The Pieces Together
This is the second in a series of articles about teaching the biblical story to children in our churches. You can read the first article here.
Most Bible study plans for children tend to focus lessons on Bible stories rather than didactic (teaching) passages like Paul’s letters. This is appropriate for kids. If your Bible teaching ministry for kids is weekly, and most are, then you have 52 weeks in a year to engage your children in select Bible stories. In a period of six years, that’s 312 stories (assuming you never repeat a story which is unlikely). This is all very reasonable. The result of this approach, however, is that each story tends to become just a “piece” of the bigger story that kids never hear. Even if you study the stories chronologically, it’s still just a string of stories with little connecting one story or set of stories to the next or to the whole.
If you have ever assembled a jigsaw puzzle you know how helpful it is to have the box lid with a picture of the completed puzzle to help you know what the final, assembled puzzle looks like. Without the box lid, it’s hard to know where the individual pieces go and how they relate to each other. The same is true if we study a sequence of Bible stories but never see the big picture or “box lid” of the biblical story.
All too often our weekly studies become studies of each piece of the puzzle (individual stories) with no relationship to the larger puzzle (the broader biblical story). It’s as though we gather the kids, pick up a single piece of the puzzle and say, “today we’re going to study this piece of the puzzle.” But we never hold up the box lid for kids to see how the individual stories fit in to the broader biblical narrative. The result is a jumbled pile of stories in the mind of the child with no way to put the pieces together. Yes, there is value in that individual story, but we need to understand where the story has been and where it’s going. This is especially true for children.
It’s important to assemble the pieces in a way that allows kids to see the “box lid” of the biblical story. The fact is, however, even most Christian adults are not able to tell the biblical story in a way that makes sense and is true to the biblical record. They can report on selected details of selected stories because they recall hearing these stories in sermons and Bible studies, but they have no sense that a broader story is present and never stop to imagine that the story could include them. For them, too, the Bible is a pile of random story “pieces” that took place thousands of years ago. The stories are, literally, ancient history. Unfortunately, most contemporary Bible study plans for kids continue to perpetuate this problem.
This needs to change. The Bible is, in fact, a story. This should not surprise us as we all live in the context of a story (the story of our own lives), so it makes sense that God would choose to reveal Himself to us in the form of a story. The biblical story can be told. The biblical story needs to be told and it needs to be taught! And, it needs to be taught to children from an early age.
When we teach the biblical story as a story and not just a chronological string of events, then we are beginning to assemble the pieces of the puzzle for kids. This is what we’re attempting to do with God’s Unfolding Story Bible Study System and that’s what this series of articles is about.
The next article will address the fact that the biblical story is an unfolding story that we, and kids, are a part of. We hope you’ll want to learn more about putting the pieces together by reading the other articles in this series.