Many nights at bedtime, I sit at the foot of my 13-year-old son’s bed and read. When he was younger, I wasn’t sure how long he would let me read to him, and, frankly, I’m a bit surprised that it’s lasted this long. But maybe I shouldn’t be.
Good stories have the power to transport us, to quiet the noise of the day, to take us to worlds where evil dragons lurk in caves and underdog hobbits just might save the day.
Most westerners (including me!) expect the most important information in life to be delivered through statements of fact. When I taught middle-school English, I emphasized the importance of writing clear topic sentences. If it’s important, we think, state it plainly. But so much of the world doesn’t think this way. Perhaps that’s why over 40% of the Bible is narrative.
As a Jew, Jesus grew up in a Hebrew culture that understood the power of story. The ancient people of God knew that deep truths—about who God is and who we are—are often hidden in stories. From a young age, Jesus Himself would have heard the true tales of Saul and David, Solomon, Elijah, Josiah, and Jeremiah.
And two thousand years later, we get to tell the same stories to the kids in our lives, trusting that through each one, God will reveal that which is most important!
Kings and Prophets
The Old Testament stories in Wonder Ink’s Kings and Prophets series will ignite kids’ imaginations, transporting them like a good bedtime story. Only instead of characters like Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, these adventurers are real—kings and prophets of old. As we explore God’s big story, we see ourselves in these ancient people.
More importantly, we see God seeing them, responding to them, being present with them, and we know that He sees us too, responds to us, and is present with us! Centuries and millennia may pass, but the God who was with David, Elijah, and Jeremiah is with us too.
We invite kids into God’s big story not merely to entertain them (though some of the narratives in the Kings and Prophets series are downright wild!). We invite them into His story so they can know who He is, see what He is like, and, in turn, recognize Him at work in their own stories.
So how can we invite kids into God’s story during the Kings and Prophets series?
A Larger Narrative
God’s Big Story
For starters, we can help kids understand that their stories are a part of God’s bigger narrative by sharing our own testimonies of how God is at work our lives. Look through the lesson Wonder Truths, and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how God is working in each of these ways in your life.
Where has He shown His sovereignty in your life’s circumstances? How has He helped you, been present with you, delighted in your obedience? Then tell your kids! And give them opportunities throughout the series to pause and think about where they see God in their stories.
God is the main character, the hero, and He is always working, even when we don’t stop to look for Him. So, train kids to pause and ask, “Where do I see God in this situation?” Then practice sharing your stories!
Kings and Kingdoms
Next, talk with your kids about kings and kingdoms. Practically speaking, most of us are pretty far removed from the reality of ancient monarchies.
Yet, in order to understand what it means that God is King and that, as Jesus declared, “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mark 1:15, NIV), kids must first understand what a king is and does. Kings are in charge of their kingdoms. They get the final word. So even when God gave His people what they asked for—a human king—and that human king failed, God was still the One in charge.
Wonder and Imagination in The Kings and Prophets Series
Finally, God has woven into every child a proclivity toward wonder and imagination. The Kings and Prophets series is a perfect opportunity to tap into kids’ natural curiosity! As you prepare for the series, think through how you might create an immersive environment where kids can encounter God’s big story through multiple senses.
Here are a few ideas:
- Set up your ministry area as a School of Prophets. The setting for the six elementary God’s Big Story lesson videos in this series is a classical-style school where young prophets in training learn the Old Testament stories of kings and prophets.
So, dress up as a professor, refer to kids as “prophets in training,” and decorate your space to resemble an old, classical-style school. You might even create an old-fashioned scroll and read parts of the lesson from it. (You can find DIY scroll ideas online.)
- Decorate your ministry area in a kingdom theme. Place a chair front and center, and deck it out to look like a royal throne. Make crowns for the kids in your early childhood ministry, and place a royal title, such as “Princess” or “Prince,” in front children’s names when you address them.
Drape streamers or long pieces of fabric from the ceiling to create the look and feel of a royal hall.
- Have fun, and fully engage! Immerse yourself in the setting and intrigue of these Old Testament stories, and your kids will follow your lead! Just be sure they understand that these tales of kings and prophets are true and are a part of God’s bigger story.
For younger kids, especially, the line between imagination and reality is blurred. So, open your Bible, read these stories straight from God’s Word, and state plainly that they really happened.
Bottom line? God has hidden important truth—about who He is and who we are—throughout His story. So as you and your kids explore the Old Testament stories of kings and prophets, look for opportunities to share your own stories too. Then in the stories of old and in the stories of now, watch for God at work!