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Themes in Heritage Studies 1: Church

When the BJU Press team began evaluating what students need to learn in Grade 1 social studies, the first major theme they identified was family. Family is the most important unit for most children, especially in the early stages of their development. Another major theme is community, including church community. In a Christian home, the church community will play a vital role in a child’s worldview development.

In general, children will enter the classroom with some level of understanding of their church community, its purpose, and how they belong to it. As a teacher, you likely won’t need to reteach or redefine what they already know. Instead, you will help them develop their thinking about church. And in heritage studies, you will help them develop their thinking about the church in their community and in history. Each theme in Heritage Studies 1 encourages children to start widening their understanding of the world and how they, their family, and their church fit into it. We will also help them understand how God’s purpose for church changes what we should be doing in our community.

Showing God’s Design for the Church

In Grade 1, many children probably think that by church, you’re talking about the building they go to several times a week. Or the act of singing hymns, praying, or listening to the pastor speak. And they might think that they belong to the church because that’s where they were born or because their parents go there. The first thing children will need to understand about the church is that it’s not a building. The people in the church must repent and believe in God to be members. God has called His people out of the world to worship and to serve Him.

Children need to understand early that they are not members of God’s church because of their parents or because of where they were born. God commands His people to gather together and worship and serve Him in church. In church, the pastor, as a leader of the church, will teach God’s people so that they can better worship and serve Him. To worship God, children must show reverence and adoration to God for who He is and what He’s done, following His commands to serve others. In Heritage Studies 1, the teacher has regular opportunities to show how children can serve God by joining with other Christians and participating in church ministries or volunteering in the community.

The Role of the Church in Students’ Lives

To further develop your students’ worldview about the church, you can help them to think about why they attend church and how it affects their lives. As students of the Word of God, they need to understand that regular attendance of, participation in, and listening to services and church ministries is crucial to their spiritual growth.

By encouraging students to be present and attentive at church services, you’re not only helping them grow spiritually, but you’re also helping them develop their active listening skills. Junior church services require them to apply their recall and critical thinking. If they sit in the main service, they are able to practice listening to information they may not understand, but could wrestle through.

As teachers, you will likely have your students for five days a week until high school graduation. But after graduation, if students are not committed to regular church attendance, they may drift away. One of the best ways you can support the work of Christ and the church is to teach students while they are young why it is so important for them to attend church. In Heritage Studies 1, you have an opportunity not just to show students how to serve God, but to influence the rest of their lives for Christ.

Bringing These Truths Out in the Classroom

Learning is a process. As you introduce the church as a topic, your students will need to practice recall and explanation. You can use questions to help them remember what they’ve learned from God’s Word about what a church is. But as they develop their thinking, they will need to dive deeper towards evaluation and interpretation. Based on what they know of God’s Word, why are they members of a church? This discussion may be an opportunity, if they do not know the Lord personally already, to help them realize their need for salvation. You might choose to encourage their thinking and attendance by challenging them to take notes and share sermon or Bible lesson notes in class. They could write down what they heard or draw pictures of the story for their notes.

As your students move toward applying what they know about God’s purpose for the church, help them realize what opportunities they have to serve their community. Church members can help their communities by giving food and clothes to those in need, visiting the sick, or volunteering to help build houses. But the biggest way churches serve their community is by telling people about Christ and His sacrifice to save God’s people.

Every day is an opportunity to help your students think more deeply about how they see the world and how God’s grace manifests itself in the real world. Heritage Studies 1 is another resource available to you in highlighting God’s love.

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