Why your Bible stories are a snooze fest and what to do about them

Have you ever been right in the middle of a fascinating lesson only to look up and find the girls braiding each others’ hair and the boys running around the room playing tag?

No?

Just me?

Well, than maybe you know someone this has happened to!

Either way I have a solution to this problem.

I believe the Bible and the stories contained in it are incredibly useful. More than that, they can teach us, and the kids who listen to us talk, the very best way to live.

The problem arrives when the kids don’t listen to the words we be speaking. (I was feeling cool when I wrote that last sentence. Not sure it worked)

The solution to the problem is a word…that…I am not very good at in real life. In fact, I recently read a book about this word in hopes of improving on it.

The word is EMPATHY.

Now, you immediately thought of SYMPATHY…which is feeling for someone else. For example, you feel bad because someone lost a close friend, or you feel happy because your neighbor got a job that pays 1 bazillion dollars every year. These are examples of sympathy.

Sympathy is NOT empathy.

Empathy is described in the aforementioned book as “the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions.”

So let me ask you…

Are you using EMPATHY to make your Sunday School lessons SUPER AWESOME?

Are you “imaginatively stepping into the shoes” of Jonah, or David, or Samson, or Esther?

Or, like most teachers, are you simply relaying the facts of the story to a group of….let’s be honest….uninterested kids.

Magic happens when you take time with your Bible story and the characters involved to think through their situation. To do this, ask yourself questions like:

– What experiences have they had previous to this that would inform their approach going forward?

– Would this situation frighten or excite them? Why?

– What was the world like during this time and what about that helps us understand how they must have felt?

– What would it be like to be on that boat, in the middle of the storm? (or whatever the situation might be)

– etc…

Hopefully you get the idea.

Empathize with the characters in your Bible story. Step into their world with your imagination and try your best to understand their feelings and perspectives so you can describe their actions and reactions to your class.

When you use empathy in your lesson preparation and in your story, you go beyond the simple facts and you touch the heart and the emotions of the kids listening.

If you can help a kid FEEL what it must have been like to be INSIDE the story…you won’t have ANY trouble keeping their attention.

If you leave the kids with just a bunch of facts, you will likely have a class full of girls with beautifully braided hair.

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