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A reader writes: Jesus told non-biblical stories … should we?

A reader writes ...

Dear Brian,
...I go on your website regularly and read your books, and listen to your lectures and podcasts. Like so many people have said, your insight and honestly has helped me find peace and direction in the new ways I feel God leading in my life and in my own personal discoveries from scripture. I grew up with Bible study and spend years going over scripture and Bible stories with our children.
I am a preschool teacher and over the past 5 years I set up a preschool in our home for our grandchildren. I studied child development later in life and was disturbed when I found that the philosophies I learned to be important for child development were very difficult to implement in many daycare situations. I started with a home nursery which evolved into a preschool. The kids are advanced for their age and they are responsible for their schedule, helping, and caring for each other. I implement a lot about nature, care of the environment, and Bible stories that I felt taught them the lessons they needed to treat people in the way Jesus taught in the Gospels. Our theme has been to treat others as you want to be treated. I chose Bible stories like the Good Samaritan as I felt I could use it to show how Jesus sometimes taught things that were different, and the love Jesus has for all people.
I have always sought what the children need to hear and have tried to not be led by condemnation for not teaching the things and ways I was taught. I had to clear my mind and ask God how to frame things, but I was often at a loss for what I felt was spiritual material. Recently I found out I have cervical cancer which I pray can be taken care of soon with an operation. I started to ask the Lord for what He wanted to show me through this and oddly enough I felt there was a breakthrough in what I need to share with the children in my care. At the same time I felt like I was supposed to write to you about it. If I could explain why I guess it would be that you are very open to many subjects, and that you have a website where things can be shared.
I think sometimes we get stuck in a rut thinking what we need to teach children is only Bible Stories, but Jesus actually didn’t only tell Old Testament Bible stories as much as he told relevant stories which got across the message to have his Kingdom established on earth. I started to think about children and what they need to hear are stories of examples of people doing what Jesus said to do in a relevant way they can understand pertaining to their lives today. We used to do that a lot with our children with books about people who were heroes in different ways, or who did things that required character or sacrifice or love for others. I started to think that if Jesus was teaching again he would probably use stories just as he did before using present day examples so that we could get the point. Maybe this is common knowledge, but for me it was like a light came on in my thinking and that I had the answer I had been seeking for some time. I wonder if in a way we feel bound to the Bible stories and sort of stuck there and miss the idea of how Jesus used storytelling as a tool to get across the message, which is what I think we can do as well. (I want to mention that I believe children still need to hear stories form the Bible.)

I wanted to thank you for being willing to stick your neck out for so many of us who feel the same way.


First, I know that many will join me in prayers for your cancer diagnosis … you sound like a very brave woman! Second - great point on Jesus' use of short fiction (parables). People who think creatively like you about children's ministry will be gathering in Nashville TN in a couple months for the Faith Forward Conference. I'm very much looking forward to being there. Here's some more information.