Around 9:15 each week I walk down the hallway at church, smiling and hugging people as I pass them, ending up in front of the 3rd room on the right, the two’s and toddlers class.
I’m never late, but there are always one or two kids who have beat me to the room and have already covered the floor with trucks, blocks and balls. There’s an instant rush of hugs, sparkling eyes and excited squeals, “Miss Hannaaaaah!! Hannah! Hannah! Hannah!” They remind me how fun Sundays can be, how special it is to come into God’s house with joy, and to spend time with friends.
And we certainly have fun during that hour! Aurora makes a beeline for me when she arrives, excited to play ride little horse again. Kyla jumps at the opportunity to build castles, birthday cakes or roads with blocks. Sam comes prancing in with his cup of donut holes, and Finn drags me to the corner to toss the foamy basketball through a hoop. Harlan hangs quietly by the door until someone makes him laugh, and Lily similarly is a bit standoffish but it never takes long till she’s throwing balls and giggling like crazy, too.
Then we circle around the table for a lesson. If you’ve hung around preschoolers at all you know that their attention span lasts all of 5 minutes. So teaching a Bible lesson? Yep, it’s gotta be 3…or 30 seconds since we also incorporate craft time and snack.
Most of our lessons are very simple, emphasizing different actions or character traits of Jesus, or God’s plan in some of the common Old Testament accounts: God told Noah to build a Boat, Jesus received gifts, Jesus Made the Sick Man Better. They’re interactive, too! I love hearing what those kiddos come up with when I encourage them to act out our story, or their comical answers to questions about characters and their roles. Maybe one of these days I’ll get around to writing down some of their cute sayings. 🙂
Now it’s been awhile since I heard anything, but in the past I remember there being some discussion down in the nursery as to whether or not it’s even worth doing Bible study with kids this young.
What do we expect from 2 year olds? That they’ll fully grasp the meaning of our lessons?
Take it from the teacher- these little ones do think hard. They’re smart kids, but they don’t understand everything. (They’re TWO for goodness sake!) We try our best to keep the little guys focused, yet someone always pipes up about their latest playdate, or we have a random breakout of the “C is for Cookie” song 🙂 or one falls out of a chair and distracts the whole group.
They’re still babies!! Let them enjoying just being young and spontaneous…
Weeeell….is it still worth it then to make them sit still to listen to a Bible lesson?
Believe me, YES!
These toddlers are capable of comprehending more than we think. Even if two-year-olds can’t sit still long or aren’t able to wrap their little brains around the meaning of a lesson, they hear one name that makes it worth pressing pause on playtime:
Today it’s just a name that they hear repeated over and over- Jesus made the storm stop. Jesus had friends. Jesus fed the people. Jesus is King!
But just think about it, friends…tomorrow, these children will be promoted to a higher class (not literally tomorrow, but in the near future). They will continue to hear the name of Jesus, maybe grasping the fact that he’s a real person who lived and breathed on the earth. Jesus is the hero in the accounts we talk about in class, and also a friend who is still very present in the world today!
Then they’ll grow even older and get promoted to another class where we hope and pray that these children discover Jesus is even more…Savior and Lord of all, then begin living lives of purpose and freedom in Christ.
So on Sunday mornings, to those of you who volunteer your service in the nursery or children’s ministry, cherish all those baby giggles and build block towers high. Clap your hands and sing songs, and don’t forget the most important thing…
Teach them JESUS.
Don’t lose sight of the goal! I am with you in feeling that actions of love and service like this don’t always seem like ministry….but God sees them and is using YOU. Be joyful in that! You’re planting little seeds of Hope in hearts each week as you faithfully speak the name of Jesus.