Guest Post by Justin Kuravackal for Saturate
My three year old daughter loved looking at the pictures as I read from her children’s book of Bible stories. She knew the stories so well that in one sleepy moment when I mistakenly said, “Judah” she said, “No Daddy, it’s ‘Judea.’”
Discovering that my daughter almost had the stories memorized, I realized how much I wanted her to hear a better version of these narratives. About this time, in 2007, I had begun using the 22 narrative set of The Story of God with my Missional Community. So I flipped open the children’s book for the sake of the pictures and started reading The Story of God narratives to her instead. She was always happy to sit on my lap and read, but now I was much happier with the text. Of course, I had to skip parts and rephrase lines on the fly to make the narratives age-appropriate.
Later, I was part of a small team, teaching our elementary school kids on Sunday mornings, and we decided to use The Story of God. We knew it would take some work to customize it for kids, but we were excited about it for many reasons.
My wife, Kate, and I were already sold on the power of understanding the Bible as one grand redemptive story about God. In the late 90’s, we heard audio (on a cassette tape, if you can believe it) of a talk titled “The Gospel in Five Acts” where John Eldredge taught on the idea of the the Bible as one unified story. The book Sacred Romance fleshed out the idea further. The foundational idea of the scriptures as God’s story was very influential to our understanding of the Bible, the character of God, and glory of the gospel.
We were seeing the potential of The Story of God as we were making disciples in Missional Communities, and we pursued creating a kids’ version because we wanted the youngest disciples in our church family to also see God as the hero of the Bible; experience his grace, power and love through the story; see how it all points to Jesus; and start to see the implications of the gospel for everyday life.
We also saw the work as something to benefit parents and Missional Communities. Our MC’s were always looking for ideas and tools to serve their kids. We wanted the narratives and dialog questions to be something any MC could use. We’ve always wanted parents in our church to take the lead in discipling their children. The Story of God for Kids became one tool in that process. They had the option either to do the whole Story experience with their kids, or to review and extend the learning after the kids heard the Story in a larger group. The addition of a key verse to memorize for each narrative gave parents a simple and structured way to lead their kids into the Word.
My fondest memories from this time of working on The Story of God for Kids always resulted in a mess of chalk pastels all over my hands. As our small teaching team taught the stories on Sunday mornings, we would draw an illustration on 3×4 foot piece of newsprint paper. It was very challenging to tell the story and draw at the same time, but the kids were very engaged. All the pictures went up on the wall, and each week, they served us well as we reviewed and retold the stories. Those kids are now teenagers and several of them have told me they still remember many of the pictures from that Story of God experience.
Kate and I are indebted to the numerous co-teachers and children in Soma Tacoma who helped shape The Story of God for Kids. We are grateful to Brad Watson and the Saturate team for breathing new life into this resource and giving it the final editing and polish it needed. We hope many churches find it useful and have as much fun with it as we did in Tacoma.