I teach Sunday School at church for the 8-12 year old kids. They can be a challenge, and sometimes I wonder if they are learning anything at all, but other days they make me proud with their sweet faith and how much they’ve learned.
When I first started as a Sunday School teacher, I thought about what I really wanted my students to get out of my lessons. Slowly I learned to focus my lessons to just one or two main points, and practice in reading the scriptures.
In my class, we read scriptures every week. Each child has their own set of scriptures, finds the assigned verses more or less on their own, and reads at least one verse. This usually means we don’t get through many verses, but I try to get in some fairly thought-provoking and in depth discussion.
Some of my kids are very good readers, and others struggle with the simplest of words. For my struggling readers, getting through even very short verses can take a painfully long time. Sometimes other kids have a hard time being patient with them.
The scriptures, especially since we read the King James Bible, are tough. There is a lot of strange vocabulary and syntax, and lots of references to people and events that the kids don’t understand. Nearly every verse requires discussion and explanation for them to understand.
Slowly but surely, my kids are gaining greater knowledge of the scriptures.
Each lesson centers around a particular story or gospel principle, the main purpose being to help them apply it to their own lives. As much as possible, I try to guide them into making that connection for themselves.
Lessons sure would be a lot easier if I just told them everything.
But that wouldn’t be very helpful to them.
Sooner or later, each of those children will make a choice for themselves about what they believe. They will decide for themselves if they will go to church, live by its teachings, and if they really believe in God and Jesus Christ.
Chances are, I won’t be there to help them make that choice. In fact, that’s sort of a prerequisite to choosing for themselves.
My goal in teaching them to read the scriptures is to give them the tools to make good choices for themselves. They can search for answers in the scriptures to learn for themselves.
Recently I saw an Ann Landers quote on Facebook: “It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” As a Christian, drawing near to God and keeping His commandments are the most important part of being a “successful human being.” Teaching a child how to do that is the greatest thing I can teach them.