Looking for Foundation Builders?

Church Have Babysitters or Foundation Builders?Sometimes churches find it hard to fill the church’s nursery or toddler schedule. While some don’t want to miss out on the worship service or their own classes and some want a break from their own children, perhaps there is a deeper reason that ties into people’s views about what happens in these departments.

Too often serving in this capacity can seem too much like babysitting. Changing diapers, feeding, and playing with the children doesn’t feel like a vital contribution to the work of God.

This position may be seen as no more significant than freeing up parents to attend classes and services. But, workers in the early childhood division of your church do have a pivotal role in the spiritual development of children. This is an impressionable age where a good foundation can be laid for the future.

What is a Foundation Builder?

Think of how critical the foundation is to a building. Everything else is built upon it. Nursery and toddler workers have the opportunity and privilege to be used by God to lay a good spiritual foundation in these young children’s lives by how they interact with them.

Foundation builders talk with children about the Lord as they play, change diapers, feed them, etc. They sing to/with them, pray over them, etc. They let the crying child know he is loved by God and them. They point to objects or pictures on the wall or look out the window to nature scenes and let the children know God made everything. They play music that teaches children about God. They read books that provide a basic understanding of God and His ways. This is the minimum responsibility of a foundation builder.

Foundation builders remember Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me …” (Matt. 19:14). They serve with Jesus’ heart for these little one. They follow His approach. Upcoming posts will further consider these qualifications. Subscribe to this blog to receive e-mail notice of new posts.

How to Get & Maintain Foundation Builders

1) Recruit people to be foundation builders. Approach recruitment of these workers as seriously as you would any other Bible teacher. Be clear about the expectations for them to be foundation builders and not mere babysitters. Lay out the case for this important and strategic service.

2) Train nursery and toddler workers to be foundation builders. Don’t assume they will do more than care for basic physical needs. Train them for this important task.

These resources could be helpful:

3) Train them about the characteristics of this age level so they know how to work within the abilities of children.

This resource could be helpful: Early Childhood Age Level Characteristics Module Download

4) Provide tools for them to be foundation builders. It’s hard for nursery workers to maintain this approach when they aren’t provided with music, books, toys, room decor, etc. that provide a natural segue to pointing children to the Lord.

5) Hold them accountable to be foundation builders. Nursery workers can all too often get into the mode of standing around talking to one another rather than being down on the floor talking with and playing with the children. They can all too easily get lulled into thinking this approach isn’t making a difference. Provide constant reminders. Get feedback. Continue training them.

Why Teacher Training Must Be Ongoing

Ongoing Bible Teachers Training

You recruit teachers and provide some teacher training prior to being placed in a teaching position. That’s wonderful but it can’t end there. Teacher training needs to be ongoing. Regardless of how new a person is to teaching or how long they’ve been teaching, they need ongoing, in-service training opportunities.

Without Ongoing Teacher Training

The reason ongoing training is necessary becomes obvious when you consider what could potentially happen without it.

Teachers could plateau.

They could stop learning and improving without ongoing training. The whole of the Christian life, however, should be about pressing on to become more and more of who we can be in Christ (Phil. 3:12). We never arrive!

Teachers could get stuck in a rut.

They might keep using the same methods over and over because that is all they know. In failing to use new ways of teaching, their teaching could actually become less effective.

Teachers could become delusional about their teaching.

They could get to thinking that their teaching is better than it is because they aren’t being exposed to new or better ideas. We can help with this perception when ongoing training isn’t provided, making it seem as though they already know everything there is to know about teaching. Constant exposure to other ways of doing things helps to stretch Bible teachers beyond where they are.

Teachers could experience frustration.

They might be trying everything they know to do but not getting anywhere with issues. Not knowing how to fix problems can overwhelm, discourage, and frustrate teachers.

Teachers could quit.

They might get so frustrated or discouraged in their teaching that they sense no recourse but to quit. Without a support system in place, a platform for getting the help they need, the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness become too overwhelming.

Why risk any of the above happening? Provide the on-going training teachers need.

Here’s help: Bible Teachers Training Resources

Engage the Senses

Engage the Senses

In teaching the Bible, one of our objectives should be to line up with how God made people to learn — through our five senses. As Bible teachers we usually don’t have trouble employing methods that require students to engage their sense of hearing. Many will add visualization, thus engaging the sense of seeing. But, what about the other senses?

Bible Verses Referencing the Senses

“faith comes from hearing the message” (Rom. 10:17)

This verse lets us know how critical the sense of hearing is to engaging people. Remember, however, that it is not the only sense.

Touch me and see” (Lk. 24:39)

Thomas was encouraged to touch Jesus’ scars to help with his doubts. Hearing that Jesus was alive needed to be coupled with touching in order for Thomas to believe.

“My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

Job’s faith had been grounded in what he heard about God. His trials, seeing God in action, strengthened that trust even more.

Taste and see that the LORD is good.” (Ps. 34:8)

The choice of words in the above verse may be meant figuratively but the concept of engagement is there.

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere.” (2 Cor. 2:14)

Again, the use of the word “aroma” suggesting the sense of smell may be meant figuratively in the above verse, but it implies a more holistic approach to the way we communicate with others.

Principles about Engaging the Senses

  1. Do not minimize the sense of hearing to grow people in their faith yet do not rely solely on it.
  2. While faith may begin with hearing the Word, it is often reinforced and strengthened by engagement in other ways.
  3. People may be at different places in their faith, requiring them to experience the Word in different ways.
  4. The more directly and purposefully involved in the learning process, through the various senses, the greater will be the learning and retention of what has been learned.
  5. If you can’t find an appropriate actual object for students to touch or recreate a scent or taste as in the Bible lesson, etc., at least use descriptive vocabulary to provide a word picture that will help students understand.

Practical Issues in Engaging Students Through the Use of their Senses

  • Carefully think through the logistics when engaging the various senses so it is a good experience.
  • Always keep safety in mind.
  • Be sensitive to students with allergies.

Do’s & Don’ts in a Visual Society

We live in a visual society. Just consider the popularity of sites like Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Many people tend to prefer pictures, infographics, and videos over text.

We also live in a society where people engage through screens of various sizes — smartphones, tablets, laptops, PC monitors, etc. This is the only kind of life many of the younger generation have known.

But really, the need to teach visually isn’t anything new. God made us to learn with our senses. Using audiovisuals has always been a good idea. It’s also the way God has communicated with people. Bible teachers need to get on page with God, not society.

Tips for Bible Teachers to Teach in a Visual Society

1) Do visualize the content where you can yet do so purposefully.

The objective isn’t merely to appeal to people’s senses or to entertain but to engage people in the learning process. It would be better not to use a visual or video than to use one that’s inappropriate or misrepresents.

2) Don’t limit yourself to any one medium.

Think in terms of pictures, videos, and objects. A visual image can be used to represent a truth that will help with recall later through the week when they see that image or picture of the image.

3) Do use both on screen and off screen pictures.

Just because people use screens a lot doesn’t mean it is the only way you should teach. A low tech approach, done well, can sometimes communicate just as well.

4) Don’t get discouraged if you cannot use screens in your setting.

Changed lives result from the work of God in people’s hearts not our methodology. With that said, we still should do whatever we do well. Read the following articles for help engaging students even with low tech means:

5) Do still communicate verbally and relationally.

Even if the visual depicts a scriptural scene or truth, it’s important people acknowledge the Bible as the source of truth. Visuals should never be a substitute for the Word — “faith comes from hearing the message” (Rom. 10:17). Also remember that the Word became flesh and dwelt among people (Jn. 1). The incarnation of Jesus suggests sharing be both verbal and relational.

For Other Tips:  Tips for Choosing & Using Audiovisuals Worksheet Download