We had it all figured out. With strong desire to be more intentional about teaching faith at home, we’d put together a little lesson plan for a family Bible study. Complete with some fun object lessons and activities, it was sure to be a hit!
We gathered the kids, ages 6-10, and played the planned games and did the object lesson. It was fun. Even though we’d done a lot of this and were pretty good at it, getting the kids to sit still for the five minutes required for the planned teaching segment was like pulling teeth. We finally demanded the kids remain quiet so we could make our point and be done.
The kids sat restless and distracted on the couch while we read some verses and did our best to apply the teaching to the earlier activities. Daniel, our eldest, was highly agitated, and more interested in virtually everything else in the room than in the lesson. His feet kicked and his eyes wandered. We prayed and finished, frustrated and uncertain about the outcome of our planned teaching. What did the kids learn from our lesson? Did anything actually “stick”?
We feared that perhaps they learned that faith is boring, or that you have to sit still all the time to learn about God. So we determined to be even more intentional to watch for ways to talk about God and our faith in the context of our everyday lives.
A few days later, I went golfing with Daniel. On the second hole I found a wallet with a load of cash and no ID. Frankly, my first thought was to just pocket the money and keep it if no one came looking. I quickly overcame that temptation and decided to invite Daniel into this “teachable moment.”
“Look what I found!” I exclaimed. Daniel came over for a look. His eyes lit up when he saw the big wad of cash. “There’s no ID in it it so we can’t find the owner. I thought about keeping it. What do you think?” I asked.
Daniel furrowed his brow, and I could almost see the gears turning as he thought intently. He was intrigued, but he wasn’t so sure what to do. In the context of this real life lesson I had his full attention. So I asked, “What do you think the Bible might say about something like this situation?”
Daniel knew the commandments and said, “Don’t steal!”
I gave a little push-back. “But this isn’t stealing! Someone lost it, and I found it.”
Daniel seemed to know that this wasn’t the final answer, but he didn’t know what to say. I offered, “Well, I know I don’t really want to keep it because of a heavy feeling I just had. That heavy feeling is something God built us to feel so that we can know when we do something wrong, and try to make it right. I had that feeling just now because I thought about keeping the money. So what do you think we could do to make it right?”
Daniel fully engaged in a conversation that led to a plan about getting the money to its owner. He finally said, “What if we tell the people at the shop that we found a wallet, and give them our phone number?” My approach to this “teachable moment” clearly led to Daniel’s learning.
Talking about God can feel forced, or it can flow naturally as we look for opportunities to be talking and teaching. It’s helpful to build planned learning activities into our routines for teaching our children about God. But let’s do so remembering that perhaps the best plan for teaching faith is in the context of everyday life, by doing as Moses commanded: “Talk about them (God’s teachings) when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)
[Photo Credit: Rauf Ashrafov | iStockphoto.com]