Books are expensive. Especially when you’re in a position where the church copier has a bigger budget than you do (and nobody expects the copier to sell candy bars). There are tons of books full of object lessons out there but even aside from the cost… how much time do we spend pouring through them looking for that one perfect illustration for the point we want to make? A lot!
What I’ve found is that an object lesson that I create myself, though it may not be as fancy and cool, takes less time, money and actually does the job much better… because it fits perfectly. I also believe God blesses such creative endeavors.
Before you convince yourself you could never be creative enough to come up with your own object lessons and quit reading… let me spill out the process I use to help illustrate a bible point or idea.
1. Make a Point
Simplify and distill your idea into a short phrase. Rather than, “God loved you so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die for you on the cross to save you from you sins so you wouldn’t have to pay the price for your own sins and suffer eternal spiritual death” you might distill it down to, “Jesus took your place” and illustrate that.
2. Ask Yourself: What Does The Same Thing In Real Life?
Object lessons use objects to illustrate a point… so our next step after getting our point is to find an object that accomplishes a similar task or fulfills a similar function. Continuing with our “Jesus Took Your Place” point you might use two pieces of paper, damage one and start to throw it away. Then take a second sheet that is flawless and throw it away instead. It’s the same thing… but with objects. It’s not fancy… but it works.
3. Preach The Lesson Not The Object
The biggest mistake I see children’s ministers make with object lessons is they get so focused on the object that they forget about the lesson they’re actually teaching. That’s why I’m not a huge fan of spending a lot of money on pre-made props and illusions… it puts way to much emphasis on the wrong part of the lesson. Jesus used objects like nobody else… even if he didn’t happen to have them on hand… he was the master… but they were normal, obvious, everyday things. The focus was the message, not the story or illustration.
That’s how I do it! I’ll be honest. It’s not easy… but it’s the best investment of time you can make. Give it a shot this week. Ask God to help you… put yourself in a place where he must… and he will.
Questions? Input? Post them in the comments!