And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates (Deut 6.6-9).
One of the greatest blessings that God in grace has given to us is the privilege of sharing the Word of God with others.
There are many verses in the Bible that command us to teach His Word to children.
As those involved in childrens work will testify, doing this in an effective, memorable way is very challenging. A well known slogan comes to mind as I think of the resources and the effort required to capture and to keep the attention and interest of children "Every little helps"
I would like to share with you one of those "little helps" that we have introduced into Sunday school this season. We call it the BK (Bible Knowledge) card scheme.
We have found an increasing number of children coming to Sunday school with little or no knowledge of the Bible, who are unable to find Bible verses and have no idea of the names of the books of the Bible.
We started to consider what we could do to encourage these children to take a greater interest in Bible Knowledge.
The challenge we saw was in how to direct the attention and interest of the children to the Word of God and keep it there.
We noticed how many children played with trading cards, usually football cards or super hero cards and so we came up with a set of Bible-based cards that we could encourage the children to collect.
We thought initially of 66 cards based on the books of the Bible; each with a suitable photo and a good memory verse on the front, and on the back a short summary of the book in about 4 or 5 interesting points.
We also added Scripture readings that we could encourage parents to go through with their children.
We are very blessed in Newtownbreda Gospel Hall with having 10 willing and enthusiastic teachers, so it was a combined effort that involved not only teachers but other members of the Assembly with specific skills and knowledge.
We have an average of 50 children coming each week to Sunday school from age 3 to about age 13 so the cards needed to have wide appeal.
We divided up the 66 books of the Bible in a fair way and we were all given 6 books each with the task of reading them, summarising them, selecting passages to read, choosing a suitable memory verse and selecting a photo that might appeal to a child yet also, if possible, have some association with the book or verse. This was a real challenge to all the teachers but at the same time great fun!
To add interest for the children and create smaller collections we added more cards: Bible people, Bible Places and Creation events. With a few more we eventually designed a full set of 100 cards:
39 - Old Testament cards.
27 - New Testament cards.
10 - Bible People cards.
10 - Bible Places cards.
10 - Creation Event cards.
1 - Whole Bible summary.
2 - OT & NT summary cards.
1 - Cover card.
We gave a lot of thought as to how we could use the cards in Sunday school in a way that might capture interest and enthusiasm. We decided to put them in sealed envelopes in a special BK card box and give them out as prizes. Each week we vary what they are given out for. Sometimes it is for bringing their Bible, or a whole class might get one each for being the best class of singers.
The children dont know what card they are getting until they tear open the envelope. This has added to the excitement of the scheme. If the card happens to be a cover card or a whole Bible summary card then there is a spot prize out of a special BK card prize box. If a child makes a collection of 2 or 10, we give a better prize and if someone collects all OT or NT cards or even all 100 they will receive a really good prize.
Introduction of the BK cards has given us an exciting and a productive year in Sunday school and the children have really taken to them.
One of the mothers wanted to know how her child could get the cards more quickly as when they buy trading cards they can get 5 at a time. However we have tried to match the giving out of the cards with a childs behaviour, attendance and effort shown so that they are an incentive to bring a Bible, learn verses and behave well in Sunday school.
We advertised the new scheme in our Sunday school invitation leaflets. Every child who returned a completed invitation leaflet received a BK card to start their collection.
To complement the BK cards we also started to produce a monthly magazine for the Sunday school. It has a simple but consistent format based on a different Bible book each month. We print it on A4 landscape paper folded in half.
The magazine features questions that for the most part require the use of a Bible to answer. On the inside of the magazine we print a full list of the books of the Bible, leaving a few out, to be filled in (with correct spelling).
The very young children are only expected to colour, the older ones to fill in the front and the Bible book names, and the oldest ones to do everything. In practice we find that nearly all the magazines are fully completed so an older person has taken time to look up the Bible references for the answers to help the younger children.
We used a local company to print the cards: Paul Trimble Printers (028 9261 2775). They keep a print template and will print as many sets as required.