by Tommy Haynes
Almost 30 years ago my wife and I became aware of a very special teaching opportunity called “TIME TRAVELERS. ” A lady had attended a Bible Teachers workshop and brought the program home to the congregation where I was preaching. We adapted it and started using it immediately. Kathy and I have been working with this program now for about 28 years.
The program is simple and a very biblical approach. It utilizes a multi-media approach to teaching the Bible. All of the children, ages 3 years to 3rd grade come into a single room. If you have a small auditorium that works very well, but even a very large classroom can accommodate the program. There is a special set of songs that welcomes the children, and prepares them for the program. We usually have one of the boys, who is old enough, to come and lead the prayer at the beginning. There is a special song called “WE’RE TIME TRAVELERS” that is sung to actually begin the program for that class.
The first part of the assembly is a review of the previous week’s lesson. Then the lesson for the evening is introduced. The lesson can be told by using flannels, a video, or more often, we use live acting of the Bible story for that week. After the bible story is told, we have a special puppet called “Bookworm” who comes out and introduces the memory verse for that week that goes along with the lesson. He emphasizes, and has the children say the memory verse along with him up to 3 times. We use numerous puppets to emphasize the lesson and bring it to life in the lives of the children. Sometimes we have a puppet called “Katy Cat” who is a reporter and will interview the main Bible character(s) from the lesson. “Henry” and “Henrietta” are a brother and sister who every week find a way to put the Bible to work in their lives. At the end of the assembly, either “Giving Granny” or “Sharing Sisters” come out and re-emphasize the lesson with something they give out to the children.
We also make Time Travelers very personal by each month mentioning the children who have birthdays. At the end of each year (we run concurrent with the school year), we give out awards for the Memory Challenges that the children have met. These challenges are designed specifically for each age group. The children work on these both in the short class session at the end of each Time Travelers assembly, as well as at home.
We go through the entire Bible with 37 Bible Classes per year for 3 years (A total of 111 classes). Each child will have gone through the Bible 2 times by the time they graduate from Time Travelers. Kathy has written all of the lessons, and we have combined together to write the puppet scripts and some of the other scripts that are used. We have organized all of the lessons in packets so that the actual lesson, the method used (actors scripts, video, flannels), all of the puppet scripts, and the schedule for each class, are easily accessed when it comes time to teach the lesson. There are also teacher’s materials as the children go back to a class for 15 minutes at the end of each session. The lesson is re-emphasized, and the memory challenges are worked on during that time. Once each month, helpers go around to each classroom, and each child goes out into the hallway to do their memory challenge for the assistant. Records are kept of the child’s progress, and they receive special awards at the end of the year. There is a final graduation ceremony (for graduating 3rd graders) at the end of the year as well and the congregation is invited to attend. There is a graduation reception afterward that everyone is invited to attend as well.
At the congregation where Kathy and I serve we hold the program on Wednesday evenings. The children do not go into the auditorium for the devotional at the end, but go to their classes for that 15-minute period, and are held there until the parents come to get them.
Time Travelers is a great deal of work. My wife has written all of the lessons, and constantly updates and upgrades the program. We have a dedicated room that is specifically set up just for the program with a special, custom built, puppet stage, sound system, and portable video system. However, this program does not require all of this equipment, and because you write your own materials, is actually quite cost effective.
Time Travelers is extremely effective in teaching the Bible to children. By the time they graduate, they definitely know all of the books of the Bible, and most know the lists of judges, prophets, and apostles. The children will know huge amounts of detail about the major stories and characters of the Bible. It is a program well worth the time and investment that you make to bring it to your congregation. We even use this same method in our Daycamp for small children every summer. It has also enhanced our ability to do VBS and many other children’s programs (even on the road in campaigns). All in all, this is an approach to children’s Bible classes that is very effective.
Tommy Haynes preaches for Central Church of Christ in Moore, OK. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.