If you’ve never tried the SOAP method of Bible study with kids (yours), I’d like to strongly encourage you to do so. I think it is probably most effective with kids who are reading fairly independently and for whom writing would not be a laborious chore, but any age could still benefit.
We tried this method a bit last year, without the journaling, and picked up it again this year with the journaling, which, in my opinion, makes it much more meaningful.
If you’ve got younger kids, Jolanthe has some great printable SOAP journal pages, but we’ve just been using the composition books that have been on sale for $0.50 at Walmart for the last month or so.
If you’ve never heard of the SOAP method, the premise is simple. SOAP is an acronym to help you remember:
First, we read a passage of scripture. Then, we pick out a particular verse – or group of verses – that was especially meaningful to us. We write that verse at the top of our journal pages.
Next, we make observations about the verse. For this portion, we focus on facts. Answering the usual who, what, where, when, why, and how questions to help us figure out what God may be teaching us based on the context of the scripture.
Third, we talk about how what we’ve learned applies to us and how we can put it into practice in our lives. Finally, we write out our prayer based on what we’ve learned. The kids have the option of either writing out their prayer or jotting down ideas they want to be praying about. For my personal journal, I write out my prayer.
I have been blown away by the insight my kids have shown, by the things that God is teaching me, and by the things He’s showing us as a family. A common theme we’ve found ourselves discussing lately is: Introducing people to Christ starts with personal relationships.
When Andrew met Jesus, he went and got his brother, Simon, and brought him to Jesus. When Philip met Jesus, he went and got Nathanael and brought him to Jesus (John 1). Later, when Jesus met the woman at the well (John 4), she went and told all the townspeople about Him and brought them to Him.
We’ve spent a lot of time discussing the fact that we’re to love people, to cultivate relationships with them, and to bring them to Jesus. Where the relationship goes from there is between them and Jesus, but it’s up to us to make the introduction.
We’ve also been talking a lot about loving people and showing Christ’s love to them because that’s a precursor to making the introduction. I’ve just started reading through the gospels again because we’ve been talking a lot about how Jesus ate with the “sinners and tax collectors,” but I want to know how He interacted with them. I want to look for a pattern to model my actions after.
(Not that I am, by any stretch of the imagination, Jesus in that scenario, but I do want to know how to best show His love to everyone with whom I come into contact, including – or especially – those outside my circle of Christian friends.)
The biggest difference between the sinners and tax collector and the Jewish leaders and Pharisees is that the sinners and tax collectors recognized their sins, while the Jewish leaders and Pharisees were living in denial about theirs and hiding behind their laws and traditions.
I don’t want to hide behind my faith. I know I’m sinful and a long way from where God would probably have me to be, but I want to learn to truly love people and introduce them to Jesus. I want to be used by Him. I’m not very good at it yet, but God is still molding me.
I love the Casting Crowns song, What This World Needs. This is my favorite verse (because, honestly, I need to be worried more about God changing my shirt, figuratively speaking, than hers):
What this world needs
Is for us to care more about the inside than the outside
Have we become so blind that we can’t see
God’s gotta change her heart before He changes her shirt
What this world needs
Is for us to stop hiding behind our relevance
Blending in so well that people can’t see the difference
And it’s the difference that sets the world free
I want people to see the difference in me and I think the difference has to be love.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-4
And, the very words of Jesus:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. – Matthew 22:37-40
What has God been showing you lately?