Building a Foundation on Christ
A home-based club that can and has been literally life-giving are children’s Bible clubs. As these are in a home, children who would find the church atmosphere strange can relax and feel welcome. My parents, the Schaeffers, encouraged women in their church to have such clubs. This meant that in all kinds of city neighborhoods, local homes were opened “for the children’s sake.” All the degrees and high salaries in the world will mean nothing if the soul is not rooted into the ground of God’s truth. The most “excellent education” is like a house being built. Unless it has foundations on the Rock that is Jesus Christ, the person has not entered the most vital relationship of all, getting to know God, His Word, and His works. Listening, trusting, and obeying God’s Word brings life.1
It is good to have a smallish group, although I’ve taught weekly groups of up to thirty-five or so children who were enthusiastic about their “Elijah Club.” (I always found this a more willing group than a Sunday school class. Club members had chosen to come.) We’d have a snack, sing the same repertoire of songs so that they would get to really know and enjoy them. Then using a tiny flannelgraph picture for each previous story in a series, they would tell back (very briefly) a sketch of each story. They could enjoy hearing an entire Gospel this way, a chapter at a time.
Children need to know God’s Word. It is best taught by people who love and know children and don’t talk down to them or at them.
A Bird’s-Eye View of the Bible
Other times we took a “bird’s-eye” view of the Bible.2 I would illustrate this either with flannelgraph or my own drawings. They would sit comfortably and quietly on the floor. The atmosphere was orderly but friendly. I’d try to time the story to match their attention span. Often they went to tables to draw a picture to illustrate the story afterwards. Many of these were children who knew little about God except that they had heard His name used as a swear word. They asked really thoughtful, interesting questions.
Sometimes we learned a few Bible verses or a psalm by heart for a few minutes each week. For memorizing the passage well, they got to stick a star on their cards. In the summer, if possible, they could come to an activity week where the mornings were a bit like a day camp. Once again we had large-group singing and teaching sessions, or if there were too many children, we held such sessions in their own age group. Then came a snack, followed by one activity chosen by the child for the week. Some chose a craft such as pottery, others swimming, and so on. One year they built a Saxon hut by the pond; another year they built a raft and sailed on the pond. Leaders shared their own interests and hobbies.
God’s Word Brings Life
Children need to know God’s Word. It is best taught by people who love and know children and don’t talk down to them or at them. The adults should have a natural authority that is firm but friendly. They should themselves be sure of the truth of God’s Word, know why they believe it is true, and enjoy trusting in God’s love themselves. Ideally, they should have a gift to tell stories well to a large group or read it well with a small group. It is a wonderful, joyous privilege to have roots in life, to be in touch with God, and to enjoy forgiveness, goodness, life. These are the best things of all to share! Teaching children should not be a weary, churned-out business. We do it “for the children’s sake.” Jesus truly is “the way, the truth and the life.”
This article is adapted from When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason’s Philosophy for Today edited by Elaine Cooper.
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