Friday, February 23, 2018

PBT Question #3 to Ask about any Secular Book

Does the book remind you of scripture?                    (a Story, a Character, or a Verse) 
Answering this question takes some thought. However, as you read a picture book, a connection with a Bible story, character, or verse may jump out at you. That’s fun to discover! When there are no obvious links but I’m still hoping for a biblical connection for a picture book I love, I rely on a Bible concordance or a list on a website.
Check out This site allows you to search by a biblical name, a religious theme, or a phrase in a Bible verse. This site also offers a nice list of the most popular Bible stories for children, but don’t use this link only when you are doing children’s programming. Adults will respond to those same stories.
Don’t just think of major characters/stories of the Bible. Your audience deserves new material! Consider some of the lesser known stories such as those in the Acts of the Apostles or those referenced in Paul’s letters. Don't forget the parables that Jesus told. 
Also, don't forget the stories of women and girls in the Bible! Rich faith development involves girls learning about female biblical role-models and boys hearing the important roles that women had in our Holy Scriptures. There are many women’s stories in the Bible that offer meaningful lessons and conversations. Sadly, females are often unnamed so finding their story is harder.
Here are 4 women in the Bible that you may not have considered for a lesson: 
Rahab - Joshua 2
The Widow of Zarephath - 1 Kings 17:7-24
The Bent-over Woman - Luke 13:11
Dorcas/Tabitha - Acts 9:36
Another problem occurs when a key figure is labeled negatively. We tend to shy away from those stories, especially when teaching children. But those labels don’t have to be used! For example, you don’t have to call Rahab a prostitute. Focus on how she was a crucial figure who helped the Israelites. The Eunuch in Acts 8 can be called simply “a man from Ethiopia”. His story is so powerful! The woman caught in adultery in John 8 can be described as a “woman who got into trouble.” 
In contrast, don’t shy away from age-appropriate negative attributes. These descriptions make characters more human. They are easier to relate to, more believable, and more relevant. Got an impulsive kid in your group? Find a book that connects to Peter. God’s great mercy is all the more powerful when complicated characters are changed for the better. 
Apart from stories, children and adults can learn a great deal from key phrases in Bible verses. I like to have children repeat a simple phrase throughout a lesson so that it lingers in their minds afterwards. Adults can benefit from this method too. For instance, in a lesson using a picture book about rocks. Talk about how God is like a rock, and have your audience say intermittently this phrase from Psalm 71:3: “Be to me a rock of refuge.” Don’t forget to define “refuge.” Then you’ll have a little vocabulary development. All the better! 
Sometimes you must allow a picture book to soak into you for a while and let The Spirit do the work. Set aside the book, say a little prayer for guidance, and give God some time to help you see the connections. A Bible connection might pop into your mind.
In a few days, I’ll post about PBT question #4. It may be the question that yields the most potential for a picture book. Meanwhile, may your Biblical knowledge grow.