Though we actually started utilizing books for learning earlier, I have “officially” been a home schooling mom for about a decade now. Our two main goals in the process have been: guiding the children into a personal relationship with God, and teaching them how to learn.
I am convinced that these two goals open the way for growth that extends even through the child’s adult life. Whatever our place in children’s ministry–parent, teacher, VBS leader, or simply a close friend of children–we should keep these two things in mind in all of our interaction with the children.
I still fondly remember a turning point in my Christian walk that came when I was in seventh grade and eleven years old. The seemingly odd thing is that the blessing started as a trial.
My step-father had made some changes in the rules of the house, and I was very hurt (and perhaps even a bit angry) about the deal. The whole thing did not make any sense to me. It felt like he was just being odd and forcing some pointless restrictions on the family. I was not the type to rebel, so I obeyed the new rules outwardly–but I was not happy with them.
Here is where my understanding of God’s character began to deepen.
Part of the deal was that we were going to be attending this particular church as a family–and the church met on Saturday, of all things. Well, we began the change together; but it was not too long before my step-father dropped out of the deal.
By this time, though, my brother and I were enjoying the new church and asked permission to continue attending. So it became a regular occurrence for my parents to drive us to the church on Saturday morning and drop us off for the church services.
This is when the Lord taught me that He is not some kind of dictator, commanding obedience without question. He says, “Come now, let us reason together.” And that is exactly what He was about to do with me.
At this Saturday church, there were some new words for me. One of them was the way that the group Bible study classes that started the morning were not “Sunday School” (obviously, that term would have been inaccurate at best); rather, they were called “Sabbath School”. Of course, then, the teachers of the classes were “Sabbath School teachers”.
Well, my brother and I happened to be in a class led out by two Sabbath School teachers who, I believe, had come to the same conclusions about teaching children that I have: our goal should be to guide the children into a personal relationship with God, and to teach them how to learn.
This is exactly what they did.
Ken and Gloria were their names. Ken and Gloria set up a plan for the next several weeks of their class, and this is how it went. The teachers came up with several Biblical topics (which together basically summed up the beliefs of the church) and wrote the topics down on paper.
Then, one Saturday morning at class, Ken and Gloria introduced the plan to the children (my brother and myself included). We were to each choose a topic and a date. Our job was to get our Bibles and our concordances and find all we could on our topic until we were confident that we understood it. Then when our date came, we would be the teacher for the day.
I knew what topic I wanted–”Sabbath”.
Ken and Gloria showed me where I could find some little Bible study pamphlets on various subjects, and I picked up every one I could find that had something to do with the Sabbath. It gave me a place to start as I opened up my Bible and went to searching.
At that time, my mom had a Commodore 64 computer, fully equipped with a Bible, concordance, and word-processing program. It may have been infamous for “eating” my homework, but it became an incredibly useful tool when I learned to use it for Bible study.
I found some amazing things as I studied: things like the fact that right in the middle of the Ten Commandments, there is a command to “Remember” the Sabbath day, and that commandment does not end with “to keep it holy”, either. In fact it specifies which day we are to keep the Sabbath: “the seventh day is the Sabbath“; and why we are to keep it (and note that it has nothing to do with being an Israelite in the desert!): “for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it“. It is a commemoration of Creation! Wow! I was getting excited!
I went on with my prayerful study, hungry for more. I found that not only did the Sabbath remind us of the Creation of our world, but it reminds us that God wants to create in me a new heart. It shows that He is more important to me than any other thing.
I also learned a bit about how God wants us to keep the Sabbath. We should keep it “from even unto even“–or as we say today, “evening”–the going down of the sun. It was making sense! “Sabbath was made for man“. It is a time of refreshment, renewal of our spiritual and physical body, a special appointment with our Best Friend, Jesus. (This picture becomes very clear as you read through the gospels.) What a privilege!
My heart was changing, and all because the Lord had set two very special and wise people in my path at a key time in my life. Yes, I still had lots to learn; but I was finding the “Sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable“.
Now instead of obeying a bunch of rules because somebody “said so”, I was keeping a cherished appointment because I love and honor my God.
Ken and Gloria could have easily come up with a bunch of Bible verses and shared them with us children. I am sure we would have learned something from their lesson. However, by allowing us to choose the subject that we were ready for, teaching us to learn, and giving the Holy Spirit room to work in our young hearts, the result was so much more powerful and long-lasting.
If the seventh-day Sabbath is a new concept to you, or you simply have questions about it, please consider visiting www.SabbathTruth.com with a prayerful heart and your Bible in hand.
~What are some changes you could make in your children’s ministry to make sure that the children are learning how to learn and not just being drilled with facts?
~If you already teach with these two goals in mind (teaching the children how to learn, and encouraging them in a personal relationship with God), how do the children benefit from it? What are some things you do to meet these goals?
***At Hasten Home, we believe strongly in the importance of guiding children into a personal relationship with our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Our Vacation Bible School materials are written to help you, the VBS teacher, give the children a taste of the wonderful treasures of the Bible and equip the children with the ability to dig deeper. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.***