"Point your kids in the right direction;
when they're old, they won't be lost." Proverbs 22:6
Which would you like better? Teaching the judges of the Bible in Sunday school or swimming with sharks?
At one point, teaching a hard lesson like that just didn't do it for me. I would have rather be snorkelling in Honduras. With sharks! BUT here it tha-thang...
When I was in college, and I was asked, I could have taken everything so seriously. But, if any little thing went amiss, I would be laughing by the time I got back to my dorm ... thanks to my mom, who made Sunday school so easy and fun, people were calling her BEGGING to put them in to help, I would have felt like a failure otherwise.
Never take it too seriously, even if it's teaching about Judges. As long as you're doing your best, let the rest roll off your back. Play with your kids...I know you aren't that person standing in the corner barking out rules during a class activity.
YAHS, Sunday school should be taken seriously, you are accountable to God for what goes on in your class, but I don't believe Sunday School should BE serious. One style I just mentioned is respectful, and one is just dull. I know you aren't the latter.
SO. As you may already know, most of the Sleuth for the Truth centres are available at The Sunday School Store. I remember it took me WEEKS (longer than eight!) to get through the lesson on Judges for the sleuth curriculum. Besides my computer crashing and losing all the material (yup), then having to reroute, it is just REALLY CHALLENGING to have a lesson to teach children about these crazy people. Man, this lesson could have been SCARY! Like, horror movie scary! And your kids are looking at you like this:
Steve Mathewson from The Gospel Coalition posits that, "Judges gets ignored for a variety of reasons. One is that we’ve lost touch with stories, including Bible stories." He mentions that, "we are uncertain about how we can preach grace and gospel in a book that a preacher-friend describes as 'one dark, hoary tale.'"
As we read the Judges narration of Israel’s history, we can also realize how God’s peculiar people lived a cycle of repentance-sinful-living-repentance-type of lifestyle. But here's the kick .... we are no different from them! We have the same sinful human nature as the people of Israel, and so reminders are necessary to help us maintain a consistent walk with God. Again ... RIGHT?
This YouTube video from The Bible Project lays it out pretty well. It gives a no-holes-barred look at the judges, but also covers why they were important ...
But I'm serious --- WE TEACH CHILDREN ABOUT THESE PEOPLE??? Why yes, yes, we do.
The book of Judges covers one of the darkest recorded in Israel’s history. Though it is a book seldom studied or taught (and understandably so!), it is very relevant for today! Apathy was excessive. Like an epidemic, it devastated the hearts of Israel. Murder, religious fraud, sexual violation and deviance, war, panic, nation oppressing nation ... the list goes on! But guess what? These things were just as prevalent then as they are (*cough cough*) ... now!
And it might possibly HELP students discover similarities between Judges and their generation ... if done with a little bit of fun.
In Sleuth for the Truth, interesting story symbols create timelines, songs with familiar appeal help memory verses stick, beautifully illustrated take-home papers and/or creations provide assistance to families. Each lesson includes activities based on The Scripture Scout's Guide-and-Step-Aside learning theory. Overall, Sleuth for the Truth encourages kids to find THEIR place in God’s story, and how they are woven and out of it now and for the rest of their lives.
BUT JUDGES?! The Sleuth for the Truth lesson and activities about the JUDGES is probably the "funnest" lesson in the batch. SO. I am going to let you know about where you can find it (they are listed alphabetically as you scroll down and Judges is BLUE). ;0)
Dear reader, let’s pray for God to raise leaders who have such reverence for Him that they will not be in favour of what God calls detestable! Like those rascally (though occasionally really cool) judges. Some were pretty awesome, judges like Deborah and Samuel. Some were downright EVIL, like Abimelech, who wanted to be a king so much he had 70 of his half-brothers killed. Yep. Evil.
The judges often made horrible, unscrupulous choices because they didn't solicit God for their judgments, but rather, um, did things on their own. At least THEY had God as their king, which was very possibly what curtailed them from getting into any deeper trouble than the craziness they had already caused.
Sunday School is a huge task, but at its core, it's simple. Teach kids about the fantastic Savior that loves them as long as you're doing that you will do just fine. Even when you're talking about those rascally judges. It CAN be done ... Jesus is everywhere in the Bible! EVERYWHERE. Even in Judges.
So would you instead be teaching Sunday school about Judges or snorkelling with sharks -- Which one?
"He sent them a prophet, who said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says ..." Judges 6:8
JUDGES OF ISRAEL BY SONG
I know you're busy. Need a wrap-up? See below:
Oh and by the way, after Judges, the CONSIDER THE KINGS PACKET is massive too (with centres and lessons included together - and there's a "Cliff's notes" version as well!). Still, you can also break that up in separate sections, if you're going through the kings (which you should be at one point if you aren't already -- these guys are also a blast to learn about!).