Catherine and I recently visited two wonderful museums.
One was the site of the remains of a Roman fort in Northern England, near Hadrian’s Wall. Here, at Segedunum, North Shields, we saw outlines of the stony foundations of the soldier’ barracks, the stables, groom’ quarters, a granary and the central praetorium, or commander’s house.
We were guided round the ancient ruins by means of an audio explanation, which seemed to bring it all to life. We were also fortunate to see a reconstructed bath house and a mock up of a stable, so we got a glimpse of what life was like in the barracks for the weary soldiers returning from patrol.
Inside, the museum presented artefacts which the archaeologists had found on the site. Among them we saw pieces of cavalry tack and equipment, and religious items. One very interesting room was given over to medical instruments. We were told what operations they were used for and how various ailments were treated by the doctors. It all made us think of our lives today, and we compared our situation with the Romans of a thousand years ago. Somehow we felt connected with them.
In contrast, some months later we visited another eminent museum. It also housed Roman artefacts and some stunning medieval pieces, including jewellery. But this time, there was only a limited effort made to set the find in context. There was no audio guide and the labels on the cases were not sufficient to satisfy our curiosity about what we were seeing.
Wonderful as the displays were, that second museum seemed to miss what the first one had given us – a sense of connection, the ability to identify with some of the items and the people behind them. The Roman culture was very different from ours, yet we felt affection for these people.
- How do we relate the gospel of Jesus Christ to the children we teach, and to their families?
- How do we show that the message of the Bible is relevant for today, for their lives as well as for those of a people who lived over 2000 years ago?
- Do we engender a sense of reality about the characters we talk about?
- Do the children feel a connection, an affection even, for them?
We can make the connection between two cultures:
- If we ensure that our teaching is not only “a Bible story” (good as it is to convey a true narrative) but something more.
- If we explain the life-principles behind the narrative, not in a dry, legalistic way, but in a way that engages the children’s interest.
- If we ask God to help us see situations and scenarios that the kids are familiar with, and use them to help the children connect the Bible principles with their own 21st century youth culture.
Apart from covering everything in prayer and trusting God to anoint our ministry with the power of the Holy Spirit, is there anything else you would suggest which would help us to put Scripture into today’s context for kids?