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Time Fillers, Time Killers, and Time Redeemers
As previously mentioned in some of my other articles, Christian workers need to examine our use of the time and resources God gives us to use to work with Him in His kingdom. As a Bible teacher, I faced some challenges with curriculum and time, and I want to share these situations to illustrate my points. As you read through the stories, you will see why I call them “Time Fillers,” “Time Killers,” and “Time Redeemers”. Hopefully these illustrations will help you make better use of the time God has given you.
“Time Fillers” are activities, whether Bible-oriented or not, that are not remotely related to the lesson being taught in class. These activities simply provide students with activities and/or entertainment, and do not add a jot or tittle to the lesson. For example, if a Christian worker shares the story of Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, then has a coloring page about Joseph and his coat of many colors, what good is it? Though the topic of the coloring page is Biblical and good, it only adds confusion and causes the student to wonder, “What is this about?” The student forgets the story about Moses, and is distracted off on another tangent. This is especially true if the student has never heard the story about Joseph before.
Sadly, Bible curriculum will also include activities with no scriptural-based content at all. Games such as marbles or coloring pages without Biblical ties are only a couple of examples. Remember the clothes for dress-up and the shopping cart, food, and toy dishes in other examples? These were also activities that didn’t add anything to the lesson. This type of activity is simply a waste of our precious time. These are what I call “Time Fillers.”
These “Time Fillers” can turn into “Time Killers.” These activities can distract students away from the lesson, and drag them down some worldly avenue. It’s even possible for our students to leave class remembering more about the worldly activity than the Bible lesson we just presented. At this point, our time fillers become time killers, robbing our students of nearly everything we tried to plant in them. Thank God He covers us, and He promises His word will not return void.
An example of a “Time Killer” could be as follows: Pretend we are teaching a lesson on the birth of Jesus to preschool-aged children. (6 years old or less) After presenting our lesson, we bring a clown into the classroom to occupy the children. The clown doesn’t add anything to support the lesson, but rather entertains the children. These preschoolers will probably get extremely excited about the clown, and forget what they were just taught about Jesus. Consequently, the clown activity just robbed our students of the lesson they were taught.
However, a teacher can bring a clown into class and plan a way that encourages the students to learn the Bible and lesson concepts. The clown could ask the students questions about what they learned or have the students tell him or her the story about Jesus’ birth. Or the clown could ask the students to recite the memory verse, and give a small prize to those who do it correctly. These activities would help support the lesson learned and give the children a memory to take home.
As Christian workers, we need to fill our students with God’s Word. With God’s power, we can encourage and excite our students about the Bible and its principles. We can inspire them to dig deeply into the mysteries of God. One way of doing this is by providing lesson activities that create “memorable moments” for the students. Activities that plant memories or give students reminders of the lessons are what I call “Time Redeemers.” They help us make the most of our time with the students. The students leave the classroom with something stored in their memory or a craft project or item to remind them of what they learned.
To create “Time Redeemers” a Christian worker can come up with an activity, experience, or object lesson to demonstrate or illustrate a fact, principle, story, or scripture from the Bible lesson. These activities can also help illustrate complicated ideas to the students, and those students will probably remember the lesson better. Visuals are also great tools for this kind of activity, and the students enjoy them.
One example of a “Time Redeemer” was given to me by a young pastor’s wife. She mentioned that her and her husband taught a lesson about creation to a children’s class. For the activity, she brought in a bowl of premade cookie dough, and the children made little man-shaped cookies. This activity demonstrates the concept of creating something, enhances a Bible lesson on creation, and provides a snack afterwards. Several concepts of the creation of man can be demonstrated while making these cookies.
Among the concepts that can be demonstrated by making man-shaped cookies from dough are: (1) God’s size in comparison with mans (2) how carefully planned and detail-oriented God was (3) How each one is special and different from all of the rest and (4) How much God loves each one He created. What a wonderful idea for implanting a Bible concept into the minds of children. This was definitely a “Time Redeemer.” Many of the children who attended the class will probably remember the cookie-making experience for a long time after the class session.
In Galatians 3:15 Paul begins the verse by saying, “Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life…” This, along with many examples of Jesus’ teaching, shows me God uses examples from our daily lives to teach us Bible lessons. This is a great idea because nearly every student can relate to everyday objects and situations.
Scripture tells us, “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise. Redeeming the time because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 KJV)
We need to carefully consider the material in the Bible lessons we teach. We need to fill our class time with God’s word, not worldly entertainment. Scripture also says, “The man who wandereth out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.” (Proverbs 21:16 KJV)
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