Church School Approach
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49. Church School Approach
Video 9

Approaching Life Teaching

This video deals with the whole area of one's attitude to life and one's view of the children in your care. Today, church school teachers can still tell the same lovely tales and explain the spiritual meaning as Jesus did, but they can also use other non-Biblical parables to teach life principles about God. We can find marvelous examples of this in the "Jungle Doctor" series, written by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). He was an English journalist, poet, and short-story writer who wrote about African animals adopting human personalities and living out real-life dramas. As with other parables, He reached a clear conclusion with a heavenly meaning to an earthly saying. This video is 3 minutes and 54 seconds long.✞

Jesus Bird Teaching

flock of birdsOn one occasion, another type of teaching method was used by Jesus in which he endowed a heavenly meaning to small flowers and even the birds. Jesus spoke to the people about faith in God and the foolishness of worrying about possessions, even the daily needs of life. Jesus' bird teaching used birds and even yellow field flowers teaching his disciples not to worry about anything even in an oppressive stress-filled society. We find about 400 different kinds of birds in Israel, and only about 25 here. Birds are mentioned widely throughout The Bible, with literal and metaphorical usage. Some of the most common are doves, chickens, eagles, and sparrows. Perhaps, Jesus noticed a flock of sparrows fluttering in a nearby grove of trees. "Look at the birds flying around," Jesus exclaimed in Matthew 6.26, "they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" The phrase "single hour to your life" may be translated as "single cubit to your height" A cubit is about eighteen inches. Both are equally impossible for us to do!

See This Flower!

Purple and Yellow Field FlowersThe next moment, Jesus maybe spotted a pretty yellow flower. There would appear to be hundreds of kinds of flowers in Israel. Some of them bear exotic names like Golden Wreath Wattle, Palestine Pheasant's Eye, Desert Cotton, Dyer's Bugloss, and Eastern Strawberry Tree. Jesus said in Matthew 6.28, "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Jesus might even have taken a fragile blossom between his fingers and held it up for all to see. The crowd might even have been sitting on a grassy hillside looking out unto the Sea of Galilee surrounded by thousands of the small fragrant blooms! Jesus' bird and flower teaching brought home life truths in several strikingly different ways.✞

Jesus' Objects Teaching

Freshly Popped PopcornJesus' objects teaching employed many a familiar article to teach a spiritual truth. He used an object lesson like a crane to move people from a known idea to an unknown one. Jesus objects teaching uses various simple things from everyday life to teach spiritual truths. Today we could use a simple postage stamp or a fig tree in a parable. The Sunday school teacher can show the class some dry popcorn kernels to illustrate a self-centered and dull life. Then pop them in a popcorn maker as a visual picture of the transformation that Jesus causes when he comes into a person. How different the fluffy end products are from the original hard kernels. As a bonus, the kids get to eat the visual aids at the end of the lesson!

Stamp or Match Stick

US Postage Stamp showing Apple LogoJesus also used actual objects to teach people, for example, about taxes. In Matthew 22.15-22, we read, "Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. 'Teacher,' they said, 'we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God following the truth. You aren't swayed by others because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?' But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, 'You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.' They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, 'Whose image is this? And whose inscription?' 'Caesar's,' they replied. Then he said to them, 'So give back to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.' When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away." "The imperial tax to Caesar" was a special tax levied on subject peoples, not Roman citizens. Other favorite objects teaching lessons that a teacher may use today are a key, a coin, a used railway ticket, a postage stamp, a stone, or a match stick. Ask the kids to describe what this object tells them about their Savior. They often dig deep in their spiritual experience to explain these likenesses. This idea works well with adults, too, and produces some surprising insights. Jesus also used a small child in his teaching as an example of humility.

Personal Example Teaching

Jesus' example teaching explained Heaven and the Kingdom of Heaven with a doll, a mother, and a child. Many children do not like to be left alone at bedtime. One such little girl wanted her mother to stay with her. "You've got your doll," said her mother. "Your doll will keep you company." "When I'm lonely," the child sobbed, "a doll is no good to me. I want someone with skin on her face." Objects are sometimes not as good as real people. Jesus also knew this and so used personal example teaching with children. On one occasion, in the middle of an argument between his disciples, he astonished them by bringing a little child into their midst in Matthew 18.2-5 and pointed out, "Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven." I am not suggesting that the Sunday School teacher bring the best-behaved girl out to the front of the class and tell the rest to conduct themselves like her.

Examples of Faith

We can hold up the lives of extraordinary Christian men and women as personal examples to illustrate some excellence in them that stems from their relationship to God through Jesus. You might like to relate the adventures of David Livingstone (1813-1873), a Scottish pioneer medical missionary in Africa, or Saint Francis of Assisi (1182-1226) whose rough brown tattered robe still hangs in a glass frame inside the door of the house where he grew up. Though the buildings and chapel and town of Assisi were beautiful, the one thing that I remember most from that trip was the tattered brown patched robe behind the door. Saint Francis, by the way, arranged for the first live Christmas nativity scene. More recently, Mother Teresa (1910-1997) dedicated her life to helping the poor and dying in Calcutta, India, and Corrie Ten Boom (1892-1983), a Dutch watchmaker and helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during the Second World War. These are both wonderful personal stories on how God worked in the past and is still working today. These biographies often contain miraculous events, and in the earthly life of Jesus, we find the same kind of events as he performed miracles to explain some truth about God.

"Church School Approach"
by Ron Meacock © 1982-2021

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