Book Review: The Bible Story Handbook

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You ever get the feeling you’re doing something wrong? Maybe you studied long and hard for that big test, but no amount of memorized notecards can erase the sick feeling swirling in your stomach. When it comes to studying for a test it’s not just knowing the correct information that matters, but how you study the information is important too. A correct method of study is a crucial part of test preparedness.

This factor is exactly what John and Kim Walton address in The Bible Story Handbook: A Resource for Teaching 175 Stories from the Bible. (I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crossway through their Beyond the Page program.) Sunday School teachers and parents are equipped with the information and sometimes the theology, but rarely are they equipped with the correct methodology. The purpose of the Walton’s handbook is to supply a method of study for parents and Sunday School teachers as they prepare lessons; it is meant as a supplement to a bible curriculum.

The Walton’s say:

“If the teacher desires to equip children to submit to the Bible’s authority, the teacher must model a proper method for identifying what the Bible, in its authority, teaches.”

Before delving into the 175 bible stories outlined by a lesson focus, application, biblical context, interpretational issues, background information, and mistakes to avoid section, the Waltons provide a foundation first. Answering questions like, “Why do we teach bible stories?” “Is there a right and wrong way to use bible stories?” and “What is the big picture of the bible?”

These first few chapters in the book challenged me personally in how I approach God’s Word on a daily basis. Am I submitted to the authority inherent in scripture? Or do I use scripture to enhance my own agenda? The old and new testament bible stories are not just filled with characters that are models for good and bad behavior, but each story is ultimately about God. All of scripture is God revealing himself to us through varying means. According to the Walton’s,

“Sunday school lessons must not focus on the human actors at the expense of God’s self-revelation.”

More important than “action points” in a story are the “belief points.” In the Walton’s own words:

“As we learn stories, our belief should be affected. If our belief is affected, our behavior should change.”

Not only were the first few chapters personally challenging to my own approach to scripture, but I now plan on using this resource as part of my bible homeschool curriculum. I’ll begin preschool at home this fall with my son, and I’m excited to use the Bible Story Handbook as my reference in shaping how I share bible stories with him.

I love how the Walton’s are seeking to equip parents and teachers first before the lesson reaches children. After reading it I feel equipped to teach my son the bible with a God-centered approach and not just as a moral framework for his life. I can’t wait to tell him the ultimate story that God shares with us in the bible. It’s all about my son knowing God and coming into relationship with God through Jesus.

“If we want to lead others to knowledge of God, we will tell them God’s stories beginning in their early childhood. “

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