Think back for a minute. What was the first Bible story you learned? What was the first Bible verse you memorized? For some children who have been in church since they were only a few weeks old, recalling the first Bible story they heard may be difficult because the stories are so ingrained in their biblical knowledge. Even remembering which Bible verse they learned first may be a challenge. Simply hearing the Bible stories and verses repeated numerous times has helped the children learn them with little or no effort.
As most adults will tell you, memorizing Bible passages tends to be much easier for children than for adults. However, applying the Bible verses may be difficult for both ages. Use one or more of the following suggestions to help you assist children in applying biblical teachings to their lives.
• Speak in terms the children will understand.
Imagine you graduated from college with a degree in education. Through your education, you were never exposed to much work in the automotive field. A problem develops with your car, and you take it to the repair shop. The mechanic tells you the torque converter in the transmission is not locking and may be slipping. In layman’s terms, he is telling you a wheel in the engine is not connecting with a rod in the transmission, so the transmission is not functioning properly. Which would you understand better—the technical automotive language or the layman’s terms? Bring abstract concepts to a level the children can understand and comprehend.
• Ask the children to restate the key points or concepts from the passage.
Make sure the children have a clear understanding of the purpose and content of the scripture passage. Asking the children to restate these things will assist you in insuring the children have a clear understanding. Remember—it is impossible for the children to apply something they do not understand.
• Ask: “How does the material you just learned differ from what you already know?”
Lead the children to process the information and compare it to concepts and ideas that are already developed in their thinking. Leading a discussion of how the material differs from what the children know assists the children in making application to the present.
• Ask: “How does this Bible story (or verse) apply to your lives?”
Encourage the children to move beyond simple “church answers” and share current situations with which they are dealing. Guide the children to understand how the Bible can apply to their lives. Encourage the boys and girls to personally apply the teaching to the situations they deal with each day.
• Help the children understand that applying biblical teachings to their lives may go against what other people believe.
Not everyone believes the same things or feels the same way about a situation. When children apply biblical teachings to their lives, they are taking a stand for what they believe and know is true. To test this, ask: “If you found a purse with $100 in it, what would you do?” Say: “Some people would keep the money and say that it was the person’s fault that lost the purse.” Ask: “What does the Bible say you should do? Imagine it was your money; would you want someone to keep the money?” By providing simple illustrations such as this one, you will gain an understanding into the beliefs of the children.
• Allow the children to see you personally applying biblical teachings to your life.
It has been said: “Your actions speak louder than your words.” Children will more likely desire to apply biblical teachings to their lives when they see evidence of biblical application in the lives of their teachers or other important adults in their lives. The example you set for the children in your group will stay with them longer than some of the words you say.
• Continually pray for yourself and the children as you present the material to them.
Pray for each child by name on a regular basis, asking God to help him hear and apply what he is learning.
• Assist parents in understanding the material covered and how to reinforce the life application throughout the week. Feel free to invite parents to be a part of the worship experience each week.