January 25, 2012

Healthy Competition

One Sabbath it was a rectangular plastic tub half-filled with blue food-colored water, Backyardigans boat, and tiny green soldiers (whose guns were meticulously sawed off with a paring knife). Another weekend the props for the children’s Sabbath school included a heavy blanket, an electric fan, and flashlights.
These were just two of my Sabbaths as leader in the 3- to 4-year-old class a couple years ago. Telling the Bible story through the use of tangible objects reinforced the students’ learning. In fact, one parent came up to me after church excited about the “cave class” (blanket and flashlights were used), explaining how her active son, who usually doesn’t recall anything from church, recited the entire Bible story—and offered up the moral, too!
The other teachers (we all rotated through a four- to eight-week schedule) weren’t slackers either. In fact, I’d say their storytelling, engagement of the children, and props were superior to mine. Why did we invest so much into these short programs? Two reasons: we are all overachieving, slightly competitive GenXers (OK, maybe a little more than slightly), and we care deeply about the kids. This group all took to heart the words in Proverbs 22:6 while keeping in mind Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:14.
Yes, we wanted to show the kids a good time, but we were passionate about delivering the message. Maybe the teacher who did a demonstration with fire went a little overboard (nothing was seriously burned—and no one got hurt), but the intention was sincere.
In using creative ways to make a point stick, we shouldn’t be afraid to push ourselves to think beyond the tedious. As long as we are pushing toward what is right and lovely (with Scripture as our guide) we can have a little fun—and maybe a little healthy “competition.”
Kimberly Luste Maran is young adult editor for the Adventist Review. This article was published January 26, 2012.