Don't you love it when the students teach the teacher?!?!?!
This past Sunday I taught the 4th grade class at our church. For a variety of reasons (most having to do with the fact that my kids are too busy, and I travel too much), I didn't get the material for my lesson until Saturday evening at 11:00p.m. By that time, I was too tired to review it and come up with any sort of interactive learning opportunity, so I came up with a Plan B...(and no, we didn't play "Hangman" for the entire class period!).
I brought two simple things to class with me: index cards and doughnuts. I asked each person to write down a question about the Bible, God, or any other spiritual subject that had been weighing on their mind - a question they might be embarrased to ask or had just never gotten a straight answer to. In exchange for the index card, you got a doughnut! (I knew this would work on boys - had no clue it would work like a charm on girls as well!!!).
Now...I went to a Christian university and have enough hours to have a 'minor' in Bible, served as a ministry intern for three summers, have taught numerous Bible classes on a variety of topics to 3-year olds through senior adults. I figured I could handle anything a gaggle of goofy 10-year olds could hurl at me.
Man, did I WAY OVER ESTIMATE MYSELF!!!
I held 18 index cards in my hand...and I must admit that as I thumbed through them I got a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I got a couple of basic question about who wrote the Bible, how old it was, etc. Those types of questions I was prepared for. What I WASN'T prepared for was questions like:
- "How do I know if I've been good enough to go to Heaven?"
- "If God and Jesus were really the same person, then why did Jesus have to pray all the time?"
- What if Heaven ISN'T real, and we're just wasting our lives?
It was in those few moments of scrolling through those cards that I had a moment of clarity. If I were to get a brand new computer with all the latest software...and I took that new computer home and started typing as fast as my little fingers could move...but got nothing on the monitor or received no sort of response from the CPU...I would say that I had a broken computer. I would take it back and exchange it for a new one.
I think that's what we (the church) have been doing with our kids. For years we pump them full of stories, facts and dogma...and never bother to listen to them. One of the questions I was asked today was, "How do I know when I'm ready to be baptized?" I quickly dove into my Church-of-Christ memory banks and rattled off the "Five Steps To Salvation" (hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized)...and I was feeling like I really accomplished something...UNTIL one of the kids asked me, "So...how do we 'hear' God?" Thus began a simple five-minute conversation about how God talks to us. It was AWESOME - rarely had I taken the time to consider all of the ways that I can "hear" God...but all I had to do was "look at my computer" for the answers.
I'm not child psychologist, children's minister, or academic expert...but I think my children - ALL OF OUR children...have a lot more going on in their head about God than we give them credit for. Instead of dazzling my children with my prowess for Bible knowledge, it's high time I forge an open communication with these young men to ensure they feel comfortable discussing their concerns and fears with me.