Tuesday, October 09, 2007

defining "different"

I sat in on a motivational speech where a bigger company encouraged our smaller company to achieve a measure of greatness by taking the risk of being bolder with what we produce. I considered the products of the bigger company, and wondered whether their brand of bold was honorable before the Lord. His words sounded to me somewhat like the 8th-grader at the playground who offers a cigarette to a 6th-grader.


Pete said he has had good experiences with teachers who have been "different." Not heretical, but different. As I pondered on his words, I could see how the understanding of his words could swing positive or negative.


If by different or bold, we mean that we don't simply cater to the flavor of the day, I could be on board with that.


Here's the kind of boldness I approach my 4th & 5th grade students with:
  • * Our curriculum is a 3-year survey of the whole Bible. The structure forces us to study our Bibles and prevents the teachers from cherry picking favorite stories or boring the kids by repeating Noah's Ark over and over and over...
  • * My class places a strong emphasis on scripture memorization, and if we have to choose between spending time on knowing God's written word versus crafts, let's just say I am in favor of saving the department a lot of money that would have been used for construction paper, glue and (shuddering) glitter.
  • * I will not shy away from occasionally teaching them the meaning of historic theological terms, even if they're Latin. I will not assume it is over their heads, just because they have not heard it before.
  • * I do not see my job as bringing diluted teachings down to them, but rather, bringing them UP to sound doctrine.
  • * I really do enjoy these children. Partly because I see them not only for what they are now, but also for what they can be. Who knows what God has in store for their future?


Classroom Image by Saemichocho (Flickr.com).


Llama Momma said...

No crafts? That's my favorite part of Sunday School. Seriously!

Craver Vii said...

They sometimes do crafts in my room, but the other teacher heads it up. I am not against crafts, especially if they have a good connection to the lesson. Sometimes I DO the crafts right along with the kids.

But glitter? The stuff is nasty!

Hey! What happened to the cool bullets in the text?

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

still here - just out of town last sunday to hear Brad preach his first "official" sermon and spend some time with the "fam" - O needed some "dad" time too. Hope to see all the Cravers soon - I miss them.

Blast working for a living and deadlines - gets in the way of life!

Mary said...

Being "different" can be such a good thing. Sunday night, we briefly discussed how troublesome "traditionalism" can be in churches sometimes. I don't mean everything that is traditional, but I'm talking about the mindset of "well this is how we always did it" or "well this is what I've always been taught" followed by "so this is the way it's gonna be."

Now don't get me wrong, there are great teachings we have today that go back for centuries. But I have no problems questioning a teaching that has never been recognized by the early church fathers and is simply a recent "discovery" (I'll leave out examples for the sake of no debates). As long as long as the teaching has full biblical support, I'm all for thinking outside the box.

October 31st is coming up...the day when Martin Luther thought outside the box, broke traditionalism, and nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church. One has to wonder what would have happened had Luther chose to stay in for the evening and remain silent.

Marcus Goodyear said...

The craft thing cracks me up! When I was a teacher, I used to tell them on the first day, "Don't expect this to be one of those English classes where you do a lot of coloring. If you want to color, take art. We study words here."

But then, I'm a little pompous sometimes.

Kristine said...

I homeschool my two children (4 1/2 & 6 1/2 ...the 1/2's are very important to them!); and I help teach 3-6th grade girls at the church; I loved how you wrote this; really, you had me cracking up over the crafts bit, along with everyone else it looks like!

We study theology at home, and I use the historic terms in part, because I think it helps to set these truths apart from and above all the other things they learn about.


Lara said...

I'm totally with you on a not diluting things or bringing things "down to their level". I take that same approach in our nursery. We have Bible story time and sing songs even if it seems like no one is listening or understanding. Why? Well, I say, "why not?". I like to set the bar high and celebrate whatever the kids are able to grasp - it's fun to see them "getting" more than we'd naturally expect and if we set our standards lower we'd never have the chance to see it.

Crafts? Even this totally crafty woman doesn't introduce crafts to infants. Too much liability with glue and scissors (not to mention glitter).

Pete Juvinall said...

I'm still stuck on someone else calling your place 'less bold'; considering the audience, I think they're pretty much spot on with addressing a wide variety of topics.

I'm with you on the whole sound doctrine thing. It's funny, but I don't remember being this smart when I was younger and I look at Aidan and I'm just amazed at how adept he is at understanding his world. We do children an injustice by not giving them Truth.

L.L. Barkat said...

Indeed, I'm learning things with my home-educated kids that are sometimes over MY head. Hebrew, Greek, Latin. But that doesn't stop us. I'm so glad you take the kids seriously.

Pete Juvinall said...

dang it. I really should keep my conversations in context. I'm so disjointed this morning due to staying up ridiculously late writing a paper for work.

I think you hit the nail on the head. My best teachers, like I said, not only taught divergent, non-heretical(sp...like I said, I'm beat) content but they also reached for the fences.

Craver Vii said...

Welcome, Kristine! So nice of you to add to the conversation. ...Teaching theology at home? As in, you don't completely delegate the parents' biblical role to a youth pastor or children's ministry volunteer? How refreshing!

No Pete... I think they meant "less bald," referring to the image I use for Facebook. ;-)

Every Square Inch said...


It's amazing what kids can learn when you're willing to teach them truth.

We don't have to water it down but we have to make it understandable and relate-able (is this even a word?)... perhaps there's even room for a craft or two?

God bless you in your work.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on. Kids and messy craft supplies are FUN! :) Take this from the woman whose toddler paints herself way more than the paper. . .

But on a serious note, when they are a little younger, I think that crafts give them a tangible connection to the lesson or the verse.

Martin Stickland said...

Bible!!! Oh dear, you have reminded me of my promise of that gift that is sitting on my shelf gathering more dust than it's 179 years can handle!

I will send it soon!

Cheers mate


Jen2 said...

Hrumph brother !

The need to teach them hard truths early - so few people recognize.

We sang a song in another language....(one of the super familiar ones) and they picked it up well- the parents were challenged by seeing their little ones absorb God's word (scripture memory) and worshipping in other languages.......
SWEET deal childrens ministry - I can't wait to get back to it.

Hope Grace and joy are yours this weekend brother -
In Christ,

Unknown said...

Hey, Craver! Back from a two week trip. A little tired. Got some hard news and we are no longer with OAC. But God is sovereign,eh?

Love your post. We are learning the attributes of God right now...at home. (and we even sing an occasional hymn together) :)