Ok, quiz time. Can you put these Biblical characters in chronological order: Apostle Paul, Joseph, Deborah, Jesus, Noah, Lydia. This sounds like a simple exercise, but in order to do this, one would need to know a basic timeline of the Bible. Beyond that, key events that surround each person flash through a person's mind as each character is put in order. This is how I did this exercise: Noah and the Ark, (first), Joseph, prime minister of Egypt (second), Deborah the judge in the Promised Land (third), Jesus (fourth), Paul the missionary of Jesus' message (fifth) and Lydia, the business woman converted by Paul (sixth).
Basically, to put these people in order, I had to have an idea of where they fit in the time line of Scripture.
Each program in our Children's Department at East Gate has a specific purpose. When put together, they all fit like a puzzle. For example, Sunday School teaches snapshots of Biblical stories in detail, but they are not necessarily in order. Children's Quizzing takes a school year to the teach one book(s) in depth. Caravan teaches life skills and Nazarene doctrine. Children's Choir provides an avenue of worship and entertainment. Children's Church had a make-over to complete the puzzle. Children's Church focuses on the timeline of the Bible. We started right at the beginning~ Genesis.
As many of you know, I have a background with curriculum development, specifically Children's Quizzing. What I LOVE and learned about the power of the Children's Quizzing book cycle is how it encapsulates the timeline of the Bible. Children's Church loosely follows this book cycle and allowing for a few extra items.
What I really love about learning about the Bible in this fashion is that children begin to see how things flow together. They are see a person/the nation of Israel in their present state and then read ahead and see how their decisions affect their future.
One of the best example of this is Joseph. We meet Joseph as a 17 year old boy and then we fast forward in his life and read how his choices as a 17 year old affect his life as a 30 year old. We see how his faith in God motivated the choices he made. Children can't see their own future, but they peek into Joseph's future and learn from him. This is a powerful learning tool when teaching chronologically.
Children can learn to see the big picture and help children to relate to Joseph as a real person. By learning about his whole life, children can see what is was like for Joseph to live in a family where their was favoritism, bullying, dysfunction, yet he chose to follow God. Most importantly, they see God as the Hero of the Bible. It is God that saved Jacob's family by sending them to Egypt during the famine. It is God that kept Joseph safe during his trials in Egypt, and it is God that reunited Joseph and his father.
We are planning to study these books, skipping sections that may be deemed inappropriate for children. Remember, the Bible is the Bible, it is not necessarily a "G" rated book when it comes to violence and "adult themes".
Genesis - how the world started, where we come from, the beginning of the Israelites through the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph)
Exodus - Israelites in Egypt! slavery! Moses raised up, the nation of Israel is given their own land. God is the Leader of the Israelites through human leader, Moses.
Joshua/Judges - Moses has died; Joshua is raised up and the Israelites moved into the Promised Land. God leads through a series of judges.
1 & 2 Samuel - Trouble in the Promised Land! Samuel is the last judge, Israel wants an king. Saul and David are first to rule as king.
1 & 2 Kings - Good kings, bad kings and the ups and downs of Israel. A nation is affected by the choices they make.
Matthew - focuses on the life of Jesus - the center of it all.
Acts - how the Bible reaches to the 21st. century from ancient Israel and the Jews, to the missionary journeys to the Gentiles.
Is this an ambitious task? Yes. Will it take time to do this? Yes. However, in Children's Ministries, we have time on our side, we will have these children for up to five years, we have time and material.