From Daniel, to Joel, to Acts and the Book of Revelation we see the desire to dream and see visions of what might be. As we lead out as teachers sharing the Word of God, we need to recognize the value of imagination and visual arts in learning.
Children’s teachers have known for a long time the value of art and drama in teaching a lesson. With their crayons, markers, art work, pipe cleaners (There is a technical term for them, but it escapes me!), Play Doh, role playing and other tools they are able to help the children create and imagine the Bible stories as they learn. With videos and drama they experience the Bible story coming to life! Edgar Dale did a study on learning and retention levels that demonstrate the need to move past lecture to a more holistic learning process. Here are his results:
Audio Visual/Video 20%
Discussion Group 50%
Practice by Doing 75%
Teaching Others or Immediate Application 90%
It may be quite shocking for some teachers. I am guessing most of you simply learned from a mentor who taught the same way! Today we need to recognize that most of us learn visually. Most of us have not known a time before television. Whether good or bad, we need visual stimuli as part of our learning. More than ever we need visual stimuli and arts in all of our classes. Instead of simply stating practical application we need to share the Biblical story through arts, drama and storytelling and allow participants to discuss practical application for their lives. Allow me to share some examples:
(1) If I was teaching a lesson about Zacchaeus, I would encourage going outside (if it is a
nice day) having someone dressed in the clothing of Jesus’ day up in a tree who would tell the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus. I would then have the class discuss what it must have been like to be hated and an outcast. Who would be the outcasts in our community? How could we minister to them as Jesus did to Zacchaeus?
(2) If I had the lesson on Matthew 11:28-30, I would give each person a rock as they walked
in and ask them to share in small groups times when they felt regrets about decisions they made, burdens they face and times they failed to do what God wanted them to do. I would have a burlap bag full of rocks (See Max Lucado and “Sack of Stones” sermon) and share my own regrets, burdens and failures. I would have artwork of Jesus carrying heavy loads or a cross up front. Towards the end of the lesson, I would have each person bring their rock to Jesus or the cross as a sign of forgiveness/restoration or giving up a burden, and have them pick up an index card to write one thing they can do to move forward in their lives. They would share with one other person in the class and pray for each other.
(3) If I was doing a lesson on Matthew 25: 31-ff., I would show the video “Get Service”
(from God Tube or YouTube) as a way to discuss: “Who are the least of these in our world?” I would then ask, “How we can be more sensitive to others?” Have partners talk about ways to be more sensitive.
(4) I would use Play Doh to discuss the potter’s house in Jeremiah 18. As each person molds
the Play Doh they think about what areas of their lives need to be molded by God and share with a person next to them as music is played- (Steve & Annie Chapman’s “Change us Lord” would be good.) Have them pray for each other and share ways they can encourage each other during the week.
Hopefully you see the potential by now with just these few examples. Give arts and drama a try and see how it helps your students learn God’s Word and how to apply it!