Teaching children, Part 1

From: Douglas Hayworth <hayworth@rockford.com>
Date: Mon Oct 17 2005 - 21:35:19 EDT

As you may know from some of my previous posts, I've developed an interest in how best to teach Christian theology (i.e., Sunday School) to children in a manner that does not predispose them to a antagonistic view of creation and science. It's one thing to think about how to educate fellow adults (or even highschoolers) in our churches about faith-science issues, but it's another thing to think about the Chistian education of children who can hardly understand the distinction between literal and figurative story-telling.

My children are ages 8, 10 and 12, and my wife (and I) homeschool them. Between my responsibility in teaching them and my participation in midweek church activities, I have had opportunity to try my hand at preparing a few materials for such education of children. As I continue to think about these issues, I thought it might be of interest to this list (as well as instructive for me) to post some of these materials and consider any comments you may have.

Here is my first posting of something I have written. It is a letter I wrote for the children to take home after Wednesday-evening "Jesus Club". Hopefully, the kids' parents read it to them.

Dear Jesus Clubber,

Perhaps you've never thought much about it, but I think that God is very mysterious. After all, you and I can't see him or touch him or have a regular conversation with him. So, how can we really know about God (who he is and what he is like), and how can we really know God (as a friend)? Do you think we should just believe whatever other people tell us about God? Hopefully our parents and church pastor do tell us good and right things about who God is and how we can know him, but we really can't believe everything we hear from others. How will we know if our pastor is correct, or if someone is even lying to us? We need a more reliable source of information about God!

Thankfully, God has written two books that we can read to learn about him. You may have guessed that the first book is the bible, God's holy Word. For thousands of years, God worked in very special and miraculous ways with his chosen people, the Israelites. Their story, which they wrote down by God's direction, gives the most detailed description of who God is and what he is like. The bible is usually called God's Special Revelation because it reveals or tells us very detailed things about God and his ways.

So, what is the second book that God wrote for us? It is the "book" of Creation. Because the universe and everything in it is God's creation (something he made out of nothing), we can expect to learn at least some general things about God by studying the world around us and of which we are a part. Creation is often called God's General Revelation because it reveals or tells us some important general things about him.

During the next month in Jesus Club, we will be trying to read the book of creation together. Of course, we will also continue to read the bible. Reading God's books is important, but by itself it's really not enough. Learning about God is not the same as knowing God personally. For example, you may know a lot about someone, but that doesn't make him or her your friend. If God's books show us that God is wonderful and good (and they do tell us that), then surely we will want to become his friends, instead of just knowing about him. As you read God's Word, you will learn that Jesus is the hero of the whole story. Learning about Jesus gives us a perfect picture of what God is like, and by loving Jesus we become friends with God. Here's what God's Word says about Jesus:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. (Hebrews 1:1-3b)

I hope you enjoy Jesus Club this Autumn as together we learn about God by "reading" his two great books: the bible and creation. I pray that by learning about God, you will learn to know God through Jesus.

Dr. Hayworth and the Jesus Club Staff
Received on Mon Oct 17 21:52:10 2005

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