This month, we continue to look at the theme of passing on God’s Word to others. We are delighted that Andy Bathgate, Chief Executive at Scripture Union Scotland, has provided this guest blog post which talks about imparting God’s Word to the next generation in our nation – children in Scotland. 

‘Every Thursday morning I just could not wait to get to school’

So, what had so excited this primary 5 pupil, making them the polar opposite of William Shakespeare’s imagined school child; ‘creeping like a snail, unwillingly to school’? It was Bible Alive, a six-part whizz through the story of the Bible.

‘Thank you for giving up your time to help us understand the Bible’, was another comment. 

Put God’s word into the hands of Scottish children and the stories of God can captivate and enthral. They are such powerful accounts of real people, tense encounters, giants and baddies, weak people who win the day – but there is a big story, linking many individual stories that lead to Jesus. Children get that. It’s our job to help them build the big picture, not just to tell an unrelated bunch of the juiciest tales!

The key thing is to let children in on the story. And not always dictating to them the lesson we think they should learn from it. One of the genius aspects of the ‘Godly Play’ approach is its introduction of ‘wonder moments’. We present a story to children and ask them, ‘What might God be saying through this, to you, today?’

We can be too quick to prescribe the moral of the story. We need to have confidence in God’s Word and put it into the hands of children and allow it to do its work – always with prayer for the Holy Spirit to be active.

Sometimes that can be scary. Like the boy who felt disgruntled with God for the way the prodigal son was accepted back so easily by his father. Had he grasped the wonder of grace? Perhaps not, but he was certainly on the way to that discovery. He was allowed to respond to the story and his response was refreshingly real.

There are endlessly creative ways of putting God’s Word into the hands of our children. As long as it enables our children to engage with what is said and does not distract their attention then let’s grasp every means. One of the most recent attempts by Scripture Union to encourage engagement is Guardians of Ancora, a free downloadable game for 8-11 year olds exploring Bible stories. Using resources like Guardians of Ancora, we are stimulating their imaginations (more vivid than most adults) by reading and telling the stories, perhaps giving them the freedom to think about how they would finish a parable or respond in prayer.

‘SU camp really helped me to get into a pattern of reading the Bible and praying and that has stayed with me’. Now a 6th Year pupil, this girl looks back to formative years where in the temporary Christian community of a week-long camp there was a model given and an expectation set.

Putting God’s Word into the hands of children ‘works’ best when they see the effect it has on others.

It’s not just about information but also transformation.

 

Andy Bathgate 

Chief Executive,  Scripture Union Scotland