Help Kids Discover God’s Big Story!
It’s been almost five years since The Big God Story became my default way to share God’s word with his children. In fact, if I am being honest I honestly can’t remember teaching Scripture any other way during that period! Whether it’s in pajamas with my daughters as Dad, at the front of a primary colored children’s worship space as Mr. Alex, or even in a sanctuary with adults as Reverend Douglas, I teach the Bible as The Big God Story.
For most of my ministry years I have had a really hard time with the oversimplification of many of the curriculums being sold! Let’s face it, so many curriculums today are based on gimmicks. Catchy wording, flashing characters, unique packaging, colorful knick-knacks and doohickeys—anything to win your stamp of approval (and your willingness to click “auto-renew”).
Sadly, my early years of ministry were marked by a pretty hardened heart toward anything being offered as a new tool for ministry. For this reason, it was three years from when I first heard about Tru Curriculum and The Big God Story before my mind and heart fully processed what it meant.
By the grace of God, in the midst of my efforts to block out curriculum noise, our Lord placed me into relationship with some amazing ministry leaders across all of North America who are committed to a movement of the Holy Spirit toward a new dream for children and their families. As the years passed, their message finally found a new home in my own heart.
The Big God Story is not a curriculum dependent upon gimmicks.
The Big God Story is not a paraphrase of Scripture.
The Big God Story is not a storytelling style.
The Big God Story is not a kid-friendly translation of Scripture.
The Big God Story is not a resource designed exclusively for the learning needs of children.
There are plenty of other resources you can buy that match the descriptions I just listed, but I assure you, Tru Curriculum and The Big God Story is not one of them. * Big God Story is the name given to a philosophical truth to Scripture—a truth that connects with every age, culture, and language and blesses far beyond the scope of Sunday morning.
One of my favorite aspects of being a pastor is getting to see God teach His children something new, especially when they aren’t expecting it. Allow me a few minutes to share some Big God Story moments.
Two years ago we added our children’s teaching time into big church as a way to connect our parents and caregivers to what their kids were learning each week. As expected, most of our church was happy to have the kids around for a little longer and loved seeing them interact with the story each week. And then the unexpected began to happen! After one particular occasion where the kids surveyed the whole of Scripture and placed various stories in their proper places on a timeline, I was approached by several groups of adults who, with complete humility, admitted that they would have failed horribly at that task. It helped me realize that one of the largest single pieces missing from the average Christian’s Biblical knowledge is a sense of the Bible’s chronology. Without question, teaching the Bible chronologically has made the adults of my church the biggest believers in presenting Scripture in this way.
More than recognizing the wider context of a passage or book of the Bible, it is the framing of every event and story within the larger progression of God’s Grand Redemptive Narrative! From beginning to end, there is no end to God’s plan or God’s intentionality toward activating it! I am excited at the thought of an entire generation of Christ followers being equipped with this understanding of the Word of God and what a strength that will be to them in their lives.
God’s Story, Not Ours
We live in a “me-centered” culture. While we generally resists this sort of emphasis in our churches, this subtle shift has still managed to find room to grow. Have you ever had someone ask you about “your faith story” or “your testimony?” Granted, these concepts are not in and of themselves detrimental to a healthy faith…but they can be the start of a slippery slope that places ownership of the story in our hands instead of God’s.
By remembering that this is God’s story we have been invited into, we prevent the subtle shift of seeing God as a secondary character instead of the one who is really driving the plot. Consider the difference between the statements, “I am brave for God,” and “God makes me brave.” This realignment is similar to Copernicus and Galileo discovering that the sun did not revolve around the earth, but rather the other way around.
It has been wonderful to see kids and adults in my church light up when they realize that the people described in Scripture are not disconnected from contemporary faith stories, but are merely earlier chapters in the same story. People of all ages who have experienced hardship and failure, or have been taught they are nothing or passed over, find value in knowing that they are a part of something so much larger that ends in victory!
I have a theory as to why young children love things like comic books, long running video game series and collections of novels so much. I think it’s because they like working through small slices of a story that they can handle themselves, while at the same time seeing the epic, larger story unfolding behind it all.
Several times each year we pause from our usual lesson progression and take time for review Sundays—taking stock of what the kids have digested and actually retained. Typically, no matter what incentive we could attach, our boys just couldn’t compete with the girls in their classes. Then, one morning one of my leaders grabbed me by the arm at the end of worship and told me, “The boys won!” “Are you sure?” I asked? “Did you check them for cheat sheets like last time?” “Yes!” the leader said with great enthusiasm! “And Alex…it wasn’t even close!” I was equal parts stunned and overjoyed. The tears in my leader’s eyes showed me that she was overwhelmed as well! Across the lobby I observed an excited group of boys sharing with their parents their victory with incredible joy and pride in their smiles. One of the moms caught my eye and mouthed the word, “Wow!”
These boys had discovered a new epic story to love and learn about, one that they would never need to fight their parents to spend time in. One that they were a part of. One that was true!
I pray that this little write up is able to inspire you toward embracing Tru Curriculum and the Big God Story in the same way that I was inspired by other leaders around me. To God be the glory!