Filling Time or Shaping Hearts?

By Mark A. Taylor

I felt pretty good about the Sunday school lesson my wife and I taught to the first graders at our church. We were substitutes for the day, and it’s been a long time since I’ve taught grade schoolers regularly. But it went pretty well. We didn’t run out of activities, the kids listened and even prayed during story time, and no one was crying or bleeding by the end of the hour.

The whole time we were preparing, however, I kept wishing we had received better lesson material to teach from. The curriculum we were handed was colorful enough, and it came with a poster and a CD, which we used.

It was the lesson aim that bothered me. Although clearly biblical, it was just as clearly too abstract for 7 year olds to fully grasp: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

We scoured through a half dozen other manuals with Bible lessons for first and second graders, looking for ideas. None of them tried to teach this text. So we improvised.

Throughout the whole class time, I felt like I was walking through quicksand. I remembered the period in my college years when I came to terms with the concept of grace, and I doubted that any of these little ones were getting it.

It seems a shame for any volunteer Bible teacher to be in such a dilemma, especially when all new lessons are available now to teach children the way they actually learn. HeartShaper, a complete Sunday school curriculum for toddlers through sixth graders, has just been introduced by Standard Publishing. A brief look at these lessons (get free samples at almost makes me wish I were teaching children every week!

Although each lesson is full of multisensory Bible study and Bible story experiences perfect for children, behind them all is a simple but comprehensive philosophy. The strength of HeartShaper begins with its solid approach to Bible teaching:

H Holy lives: transformed hearts shaped by God’s Word.

E Easy to teach: flexible, quality Bible learning, well designed and resourced.

A Appropriate to learners: based on what and how children can learn best at each age level.

R Relevant to culture: current and connected to kids’ lives today.

T True to the Bible: so kids can learn, love, and live God’s Word for a lifetime.

HeartShaper lessons introduce children to God, his Son, his Word, and his church. They begin a relationship with God that can shape their hearts for eternity.

This is what every Bible teacher (even a substitute!) wants, to see students’ hearts shaped by God’s Word. And now with HeartShaper curriculum from Standard Publishing, it’s possible: Bible teachers with children of all ages can share in heart shaping experiences week after week.

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