(Or simply, Spiritual Instruction Outside of the Box)
An excellent missions blog I read on occasion has a link to a website that I found fascinating, not merely for its implications in missions, but also for its implications on teaching non-standard learners.
Our American churches emphasize the written word heavily, and well they should. God’s Word was written down, and this is but one reason that we should read it carefully. What, though, for children who are not, and never will be, good readers? What about the teenager with Down’s Syndrome who cannot read? Or the child that simply doesn’t remember what he reads, even though he can recite every episode of his favorite television show from start to finish? What about adults who are embarrassed to try to read aloud in church, or can’t read the songs in the hymnal (or overhead)? Are these people destined to be immature believers simply because they cannot read well?
I’m giving extreme examples, but I’ve long been intrigued with nonstandard ways of teaching God’s Word. Especially for children with disabilities, we are often insensitive to their difficulty with abstract topics, truths that can be learned if taught correctly. Take salvation. Most kids figure out quickly that when we “ask Jesus in our heart” we’re not going to get a physical person invading our organ. An average child will have some confusion. But some children will continue to wrestle with an unintentionally confusing approach to salvation.
Now, back that that website. They’re focussing on orality– characteristics of culture that doesn’t have a written language. Such cultures often respond well to certain approaches to teaching God’s Word.
Here are the strategies they develop:
- Chronological Bible Storying
- Bible Stories on Topics (What’s a Bible story that will teach me how to share?)
- Film and Story
- Bible on Film
- Deaf (Bible in Sign Language)
- Visual Arts
An ethnic group in South America where there were no Christians heard an initial set of stories that presented the gospel. They wanted to follow Jesus, but had great fear of doing so. They were terribly afraid of what the spirits might do to them if they ceased honoring the spirits and followed Jesus instead. They also feared that members of their community might persecute them.
Christians ministering among the group used a concordance to locate every place in the Bible where “fear not” or its equivalent appears. From this list they then selected stories that showed how God helped people overcome their fear as they obeyed him.
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