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Committee on Christian Education Feature

Laying a Firm Foundation for Grades 3 & 4

Mark Lowrey

Do you remember being eight or nine years old? You were starting to feel more independent. You were reading, understanding, and discussing with others on your own. It’s an exciting time of life and also a critical one—a time when a child’s spiritual development and understanding of his or her faith is maturing. By third and fourth grade, not only have covenant children grasped much biblical vocabulary and many Bible stories, they have also absorbed more theology than most of us would realize about God, Christ, man, sin, faith, and more.

At the same time, they are experiencing the church at work: worship, sacraments, and the fellowship of a caring community of believers reaching out to others and the world.  They are processing what they have been taught and observed. They are coming to understand more about Christianity and hopefully taking the faith as their own.

Unlike younger children who think only literally, middle elementary kids are growing in their ability to reason and discover, discuss ideas, compare and contrast, and analyze. So it’s essential that curriculum for this age group is designed to help them discover important biblical truths as they grow.

Show Me Jesus for Middle Elementary

What critical truths does Show Me Jesus from Great Commission Publications teach to students this age? It teaches them: what it means to worship God; how they are to live before God: the Ten Commandments; what and who a Christian is; how their faith and the gospel relates to the world they live in, and how they can tell others about Christ; and God’s greatness, his goodness, and how to trust in him. 

The students are also introduced to thirteen people in the Old and New Testaments they probably have never heard of before. (This helps them realize there’s a lot more in the Bible that they haven’t yet learned—and have yet to discover!) And for every lesson of this two-year curriculum, there is Daily Soul Food that encourages students to read and study the Bible regularly and to pray on their own. They are encouraged to feed on God’s Word and discover a deepening treasure that will last a lifetime.

Discovering Worship and God’s Grace in the Law

Participating in worship is a regular part of a covenant child’s life at this point. But does he or she understand the what and why of the various elements of the worship service? Two quarters of Middle Elementary (thirteen lessons each) address this critical area of spiritual development.

“Worshiping God” is a hands-on discovery of eight elements of worship: praying (focusing on the Lord’s Prayer), singing God’s praises, listening to God’s Word, giving, confessing our faith, being baptized, participating in the Lord’s Supper, and receiving God’s blessing through the benediction. Through this study, students not only understand each element but how it fits into the worship services they participate in regularly. 

In “God’s Design for Worship,” God’s regulations and practices for worship are taught in an entirely different way. Building on the Old Testament stories they have learned, students take a deep dive into discovering more about the tabernacle, priests, sacrifices, festivals, and holy days. This unique quarter is might be the only published study on Leviticus for children. And through this, they see how the visuals God provided for worship pointed forward to the ultimate sacrifice of Christ Jesus.

God tells us not only how to worship him but also how to live before him. How can children this age deepen their understanding of the Ten Commandments? Through a very practical look at both what is required and forbidden in each of the commandments. Students are introduced to the Shorter Catechism, which shows them that the commandments have more substance than they ever realized!

Living Out Their Faith

By now, many students are learning that not everyone believes the same as Christians do. Two quarters in Middle Elementary help them better understand the church and the gospel, as well as the importance of telling others about the good news of Christ. In “Telling Others,” they go on an exciting journey through book of Acts and grasp the “what” of missions. Then, in “God’s Growing Church,” they look “under” the stories in Acts to find out what God has been doing in the spread of his earthly kingdom and what this means for his people, the church.

In “Trusting God,” students grow in their understanding and awareness of trusting in God’s provision. They see that God cares for his people and gain a greater understanding of God’s saving power. God, their Maker and Provider, is also their Savior. In “Listening to Jesus,” they learn from their Teacher, Jesus, as he teaches about himself, their Father, and his children.

For a deeper understanding of the Bible truths and lesson aims of this curriculum, visit www.gcp.org. Under the Bible Curriculum tab, click on Middle Elementary. Then click “download complete master plan” on the scope and sequence chart for an overview of the thirteen lessons for all eight quarters.

Mark Lowrey is director of publications for GCP.

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