It is an awesome privilege to be teaching Middle School Bible at Denver Christian School. These students bring a lot of joy and energy each and every day, as we study God’s Word and connect it to our lives. In both 6th and 8th grade, we emphasize how the Bible is one unified story. I want the students to see the connections between the Old and New Testaments, as they see the Grand Narrative that God has been weaving throughout all of time.
We talk a lot about how our own stories fit into God’s story, how we can connect with God to grow in our faith, and how we can use our gifts to build others up and be agents of hope in our world today. In both grades, we have recently discussed who we are in Christ. Our true identity is found in what God says about us, instead of what we do or achieve. We are truly known and fully loved in Christ. This is a wonderful truth!
Over the course of the year, I have been so impressed with the students’ willingness to wrestle with and engage with Scripture. They ask deep questions and dig into the text. We do this in a variety of ways, from reflections using FlipGrid, written responses, bible memory work, acting out certain stories, creating an in-class group or individual presentation and more. I love to mix it up and keep it exciting!
They have really encouraged me in my own journey with Christ as they see new insights and make applications to our lives today. One of my favorite ways to have the students engage with what they are learning is to have us sit in a big circle and talk with one another. I was blown away by our 8th graders’ quality, in-depth discussion earlier this year about how we got the Bible and why we should still study it today. They showed respect to their fellow classmates and shared their thoughts with passion and humility.
This year, our 8th graders have been looking at the story of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. They jumped right in back in August and have had great enthusiasm in discovering how the whole Bible points to Jesus. We studied various types of literature and sections in the Old Testament, including narrative, poetry, wisdom, and the Prophets. One of my favorite units from our study of the Old Testament was comparing and contrasting the wisdom literature books of Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. The students wrestled with what true wisdom looks like and about how we respond when life doesn’t go as planned. To close out the Old Testament, each student was assigned a minor prophet and presented to the class. As we began the New Testament, we have taken a slow pace in reading through the gospel of Luke. We studied the life and ministry of Jesus, as we seek to live in His way with His heart for others.
As we transitioned to e-learning in mid-March, the students did a great job adapting. Though we really miss seeing each other in person, we have been able to utilize various electronic resources to continue our study into the life of Jesus. The timing of the calendar worked really well as we studied Jesus’ death and resurrection in the week leading up to Easter. Students were able to articulate the importance of the resurrection, as well as understand and respond to various false theories about the empty tomb. Our study of Luke has flowed right into the book of Acts and how the Good News about Jesus is spread! We will continue through Acts, then close the year with the book of Ephesians and the ending of Revelation, as we look back and review how the Grand Narrative of Scripture unfolds and connects together.
Our 6th graders have also been doing an awesome job this year. One of the things I really appreciate about this group is their authentic joy. They come with lots of energy and always ask great questions. We had some days where the students would just ask tough questions and discuss back and forth. I cherish these times! Our 6th grade curriculum opens with an overview of the Biblical Story and the land and geography of the Bible. Students shared pictures and facts with each other about key places in Scripture and what events occurred at these places. This helps us visualize the locations and events we are studying. Next, we take a deep dive into Jesus’ later ministry, death, and resurrection. We spend four separate units digging into these events, as we study their importance for our faith. We next walked through the book of Acts, including Pentecost and Paul’s life and ministry.
Currently, we are studying the book of Colossians, as we bring the year to a close and continue discussing what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. We talk about growing strong “roots” into Jesus and building the foundation of our life on Him. I want the students to identify and celebrate their unique gifts, as they begin to see how they can use those to serve others and bring glory to God.
As we study God’s Word, we use a few techniques. First, we follow the steps of observation (What does it say?), interpretation (What does it mean?), and application (What does it mean for me/us?). In this way, we seek to be faithful to the original context, and then make connections to our own lives. Secondly, we talk about how studying the Bible should impact our head, heart, and hands. We are not just looking for information, but for transformation.
For example, it is one thing to know in our heads that Jesus loves us. Yet it takes on a new meaning when we take that to heart and really believe we are deeply loved children of God. Then we can use our hands as we serve others and extend the same love that we have been shown. All in all, these 6th graders have been such a joy to teach in 2019-20.
Denver Christian is a special place and these students are such an encouragement to me. I look forward to continuing to study God’s Word together with them in fun and exciting ways! It is truly a blessing to journey with them and it is my hope to point them to Jesus on a daily basis.
Author: Billy Berglund, Middle School Math Teacher