Few of us would doubt the benefits of creative Bible teaching. Yet, becoming more creative can be an issue for many teachers as reflected in these frequently asked questions about creativity.
Why aren’t I more creative? Why is creativity so hard for me?
We all have the potential for being creative since we were made in the image of God. Some will naturally be more creative due to personality, background, training, etc. Some will have to work harder at being creative. It might be harder for you because of one or a combination of the following reasons: 1) Conditioning: Along the way your sense of wonder and adventure was squelched by well-meaning parents and/or teachers who insisted on conformity. You may have been stifled by a lack of good examples of creativity. 2) Comparisons: You might be so busy comparing yourself to others who are more creative that you get to feeling insecure and defeated before even trying. 3) Comfort: You might resist taking risks or being challenged. Staying in the safety of your comfort zone feels better. 4) Custom: You might be in a rut, doing things the same way you’ve always done them, oblivious to your need to change.
What can I do to become a more creative Bible teacher?
Observation: Pay attention to the world around you. Take note of God’s creative handiwork in nature. Seek to learn from those who are creative, perhaps observing other teachers in action. Pay attention to creativity put into advertisements. Peruse books with ideas. Saturate yourself with possibilities so you have something to pull on.
Mental practice: Think about how something could be more creative. What if you combined this and that to come up with something new? What if you made a few alterations? You aren’t going to be more creative simply because you want to be. You must put some effort into it.
Take the Challenge: Step out of your comfort zone and try something different. You are never going to become more creative sitting around wishing you were more creative. Nor will you become more creative simply by reading books or articles about creativity. You must take steps toward it. Take baby steps, if you must, but do something.
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray . . .” (Lk. 11:1-2)
Jesus’ disciples were like spiritual children and so we can appropriately learn some pointers from Him.
3 Ways to Teach Children about Prayer
1) Model a life of prayer for children to observe.
Jesus taught about prayer by exposure to a good model — Himself. His disciples observed Jesus pray and sometimes go aside to pray. After one incidence, one of His disciples said, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk. 11:1-2). Jesus’ prayer life motivated his disciples toward a passion for prayer.
The best way to teach children to pray is to let them see and hear you pray. Jesus didn’t simply tack a prayer onto a lesson or sermon. He was devoted to prayer wherein He connected with His Father. Parents have more potential for children to observe this passion in them whereas teachers have limited exposure. Teachers must therefore incorporate their own prayer life as illustrations in the lesson. For example, in a lesson on fear, the teacher may share how he/she was afraid of something last week and asked God for courage.
2) Provide instruction about prayer on children’s level.
Jesus taught about prayer by providing an explanation for good understanding — instruction. He used terminology the disciples could understand in teaching them about prayer … a friend knocking on a door for help, a father providing what is good for his children. He not only explained how to pray but also how not to pray using negative examples.
Teachers, likewise, must meet children on their level in teaching them about prayer. What is relevant to their lives that will help them understand? The younger the child, the more concrete and obvious the illustration must be for them to understand. As children get older they can learn more abstractly through object lessons. Play is part of a child’s life. How can play — fun and games, be used as a tool?
3) Give children a pattern illustrating how to pray.
Jesus taught about prayer by using a pattern for a good example of praying — His sample prayer, come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer, in Matthew 6:9-13. Nowhere do we read that Jesus told His disciples to memorize the exact wording of this sample prayer. He said, “This is how you should pray” not “This is what you should pray.” This prayer has, however, become probably the most memorized prayer. In Matthew 6, just prior to giving the prayer, he warned them that prayer should not be done to be seen by man but to be in touch with the Father (v. 5-6) and that prayer should not be mere words (v. 7-8).
The challenge then, in teaching this prayer to children is to …
Make sure to put them in touch with the One to whom they pray and not just learn it to please you the teacher or parent, or to gain a reward for memorization, etc.
Make sure they understand what it means so they go beyond the rote aspect of learning it to seeing the implications and applications of the concepts found in the prayer.
A Tool to Help Children Learn the Lord’s Prayer:
Children Learn to Pray Curriculum –
Best suited for grades 1-4, this curriculum was designed to help children not only memorize the Lord’s Prayer but also to understand its meaning. By the end of this course, the children should have a better grasp of the One to whom they pray and how that affects the way they pray.
We are all God’s servants regardless of position or type of ministry (1 Cor. 3:5). We follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1) who humbled Himself and took on the nature of a servant (Phil. 2:6-7). He came to serve rather than be served (Matt. 20:28).
As Bible teachers, we have many opportunities to demonstrate that servanthood.
What Being a Servant Looks Like in Bible Teachers
Servant teachers are in it for the right reasons, motivated by love and compassion rather than duty, there to serve and not be served.
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. (Gal. 5:13)
They see themselves first and foremost as God’s servants, accountable to Him, instruments in His hands, stewards of what He has given them to do, working in cooperation with God and not the other way around.
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. … So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. … (1 Cor. 3:5-15)
Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. (1 Pet. 5:2-3)
They treat those who seem unlovable, difficult, hard to reach, and those who criticize or with whom they have differences of opinion, with gentleness and respect, not having to come across as always right, always the winner.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth … (2 Tim. 2:24-26)
Bible teachers who are servants show it in their attitudes not just how they treat students.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross! (Phil. 2:5-8)
They are more concerned about showing off Jesus than thinking about their own status, humbly accepting praise and graciously learning from criticism.
The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. (Matt. 23:11-12)
Being a servant teacher often means sacrificing time, willing to prepare, setup, and connect with students even when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.
being found in appearance as a man humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. (Phil. 2:8)
Teachers there to serve relinquish the need to control, giving choices in the learning experience, not expecting responses to exactly replicate their expectations, etc.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you.” (Matt. 20:25-26a)
Servant teachers find ways to adapt, not needing to always push their own agendas.
Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. … I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. (1 Cor. 9:19-22)
As servants, they willingly tend to the more menial and non-gratifying types of tasks to enhance the learning experience, not getting caught up in pride and superiority as the upfront teacher or viewing certain tasks as below them.
… Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. … (Jn. 13:3-17)
Teachers who take their role as servants seriously demonstrate Christ-likeness, becoming a good example for others to follow.
The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve. (Matt. 20:28)
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Cor. 11:1)
devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift … Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Tim. 4:13-16)
Pray that teachers constantly pull the class’ focus back on God and His Word.
Pray that class discussion focuses on God and His Word not mere personal opinions.
Pray that students can block out distractions and focus on God and His Word.