Monday, October 5, 2015

The Playdough Lady and the Wordless Book - Sharing the Gospel with Preschoolers.

When my oldest children were preschoolers, we attended a largish church in Oregon.  They remember that church fondly, and some of their favorite memories revolve around the "Playdough Lady" - their name for their preschool Sunday school teacher, who set her classroom up with play dough for the early arrivals to play with, until it was time for Sunday school to start.

She would allow the children to free play, and always had a number of interesting cookie cutters or accessories.  As the children played, she listened, and sometimes talked, and generally got to know each of the little ones in her class, in a very special way.  They loved it.

It dawned on me the other day, as I was putting together the lesson for the week, that I could be our church's "Playdough Lady". Happily, the classroom I have, has been set up with play dough in mind, and has linoleum, instead of carpet, under the table.  The last church we were in was completely carpeted, and the janitor had posted "No PlayDoh" signs in every classroom.

Now, with freedom to play, I packed up several cans of dough as well as a few cookie cutters (from what I'm sure you know is a good sized collection) to take to class.  I tried to pick cutters that could lead us into review of the last few lessons - sheep for David, a small and large gingerbread man for David and Goliath, the bear that David had to protect the sheep from, and a few hearts as a lead in to our week's verse - God will always love me Psalm 107:1.

I had a hard time at first deciding on color choices, but I've worked it out now, and the colors I've chosen are not by accident, but rather follow the colors of the Wordless Book - a simple Gospel presentation for children...

...because as I've been thinking about teaching the preschool Sunday school class, I was reminded that it was a preschool Sunday school teacher who first told me I was headed to hell! 

Looking back I'm not sure if she was trying to share the good news of the Gospel with me, or just put the fear of God into me, so I'd sit still.  Either way, I headed straight home that day, very upset, to tell my mother what the teacher had said.  Mom explained, that it was true, not just for me, but for everyone.  We were all going to hell unless we asked Jesus to forgive us for our sins.

We used to talk more about hell, fire, and brimstone in church, than we do now, so it wasn't so much shocking, as it was enlightening.  Up to that point, all I'd heard about God in my three years of church going, was that He loved me - I had no idea I might not be acceptable as I was.  It was a relief to hear that no one could be good enough for God, and to find out that Jesus had already paid for my sins and all I had to do was admit I was a sinner - that I had done things I knew were wrong, and be forgiven. At least, that's how I understood it then.

As much as I'd like the children in my class to remember a teacher who listened, and talked to them, and had play dough to play with, what I really want them to remember is the truth of I Timothy 2: 3-6,

This is good and pleases God our Savior, for he longs for all to be saved and to understand this truth: That God is on one side and all the people on the other side, and Christ Jesus, himself man, is between them to bring them together,  by giving his life for all mankind.
This is the message that at the proper time God gave to the world. (TLB)


Ticia said...

I've never seen blue used for feeling sad, that's a new one for me. I've seen it used for baptism and for the Holy Spirit, I kind of like it for feeling sad.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

So are you going to teach your preschoolers about going to hell? What about all these people of non-Christian faith?

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Natalie - It's a message I'm very glad my teacher shared with me all those years ago. It would be sad to come into a church and not hear the Good News - which is not the part about hell, but the part about Jesus making a way for our relationship with God to be restored. He said it a lot better than me though in John chapter 3 -

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

and in John chapter 14 -

Jesus told him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

So, while I wouldn't presume to understand how God views all of us - no matter of what faith - I take Jesus to say we're all in the same boat together - all lost, and condemned without Him - but that He provides a way (the only way) back into God's grace and mercy. It doesn't matter if your a Jew, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or whatever, without Jesus you're paying the price for your actions yourself - as Paul said "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus".

It's a gift for all of us - so the Gospel isn't about who is going to hell - it's about being redeemed - bought back - from that eternity. That's something I'm happy to share with the preschoolers in my class, and with anyone else who asks :)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

I am guessing we automatically get to Heaven being chosen people and all :) Except Jewish religion does not quite support heaven theory the way Christianity does.

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Oh Natalie - This could be such a fun hot topic! Probably moving out of the realm of preschool Sunday school a bit - but I would love to have you beside me in a Bible study :)

MaryAnne said...

This is a cool Sunday School lesson for littles.