There are many, many resources available to us if we wish to teach our children their Bible stories so they can live moral and upright lives. We can teach them to be like Noah, that man of great faith who endured years of scorn before finally receiving vindication; we can teach them that David trusted God and marched into battle against the giant and that they, too, can face their own giants. The stories and morals are easy to find. It is far more difficult to find resources that will go from these stories to the cross–that will set these stories in the context of the great story.
It used to be difficult. In the past couple of years we’ve seen quite a few excellent products hit the market that focus on finding gospel in the stories. Here are four of them, each of which is meant to be used as curriculum for a church’s children’s program. Along with the leader of our children’s ministry at church, I have been looking at these programs and have found it very difficult to choose from among them. Each looks just as good as the one before it.
The Gospel Story for Kids
The Gospel Story for Kids is produced by New Growth Press and is based on books by Marty Machowski. It begins at the preschool level and extends to older elementary children. The curriculum comes with a long list of endorsments that includes Joshua Harris, Al Mohler, C.J. Mahaney, Tedd Tripp, Susan Hunt and many others. Here is a brief description:
The Gospel Story for Kids is a unique, three-year program that helps churches and families ground children in the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation. Children who began this program at age three will have learned and absorbed the gospel story from Genesis to Revelation three complete times. At each age level children are taught the gospel through age-appropriate illustrations, activities, coloring pages, object lessons, and memorization using the Gospel Story Sunday school curriculum, an illustrated children’s storybook Bible, The Gospel Story Bible, and two family-friendly devotionals, Long Story Short: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (OT) and Old Story New: Ten-Minute Devotions to Draw Your Family to God (NT-available October 2012).
I am currently reading The Gospel Story Bible with my two girls (aged 6 and 9) and we are all enjoying it. With just about every story Machowski looks to the big story, pointing forward to the cross again and again.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a brand new resource from Lifeway that is launching for the fall season. It has modules for children, students and adults and is thus suitable for all ages. It was developed under the leadership of Trevin Wax and Ed Stetzer and has an advisory counsel that includes D.A. Carson, Matt Chandler and several others.
Some people see the Bible as a collection of stories with morals for life application. But it is so much more than that. Sure, the Bible has some stories in it, but it is also full of poetry, history, codes of law and civilization, songs, prophecy, letters — even a love letter. When you tie it all together, something remarkable happens. A story is revealed. One story. The story of redemption through Jesus.
The Gospel Project is a Christ-centered curriculum that examines the grand narrative of Scripture and how the gospel transforms the lives of those it touches. Over a three-year plan of study, each session immerses participants — adults, students, and kids — in the gospel through every story, theological concept, and call to missions from Genesis to Revelation.
If you sign up to be part of their pilot project, you will receive the first month of the program for free.
Treasuring Christ was developed by Providence Baptist Church and extends from pre-school to high school while also encouraging the participation of parents through the week. The objectives of those who made it were to:
Produce a gospel-centered curriculum which allows every child, birth through high school, to study the same Scripture passage each week (Colossians 3:16; Romans 5:.6-11) We call this unified; we are all on the same page, same game plan.
Produce a gospel-centered curriculum that will equip parents to thrive in their God-given roles as their child’s primary disciple, thereby, connecting the church and the home (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Psalm 78:1-7). We provide a weekly take home resource that encourages parents to help their children prepare for the upcoming week’s lesson.
Produce a gospel-centered curriculum to share with the nations that will help churches reach and exhort the next generation and to make Christ’s name great around the globe (Romans 1:16; Psalm 108.1-5).
It has been endorsed by Bruce Ware, Timothy Paul Jones, Randy Stinson and others.
The Jesus Storybook Bible
The Jesus Storybook Bible is based on the children’s Bible written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and is geared toward younger children.
Written for children ages four and up, The Jesus Storybook Bible tells the one story underneath all the stories of the Bible and points to the birth of a child, the Rescuer, Jesus. Complete with 44 Bible stories, The Jesus Storybook Bible paints a beautiful portrait of Jesus and invites children to see that he is not only at the center of God’s great story of redemption—he is at the center of their story too. Children and adults alike will be captivated by the beautifully written narrative and the original and unique illustrations by accomplished artist Jago. Lloyd-Jones’ powerful gift of storytelling draws the reader into the greatest adventure of all time in an exciting page-turner that kids (and adults) find hard to put down.
The curriculum includes “everything you need for nearly a year of curriculum lessons! Kit includes 44 individual lessons plus 6 review lessons (3 Old Testament, 3 New Testament – available online) plus ideas for engaging activities, easy-to-use instructions and notes for teachers based on material from Timothy Keller, memory verses, color handouts, and much more.”