Using Visuals in Family Devotions and Sunday School
Our sale on visually rich resources like the PhotoMuseum, the Virtual Bible, and the Virtual Tour of the Temple ends today. Hopefully you've all taken advantage of it and now have a wealth of illustrations at your fingertips. If not, you still have a chance to save on the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, which will remain on sale through May 29.
In the hope of inspiring you to make use of these kinds of resources, I want to share with you how I've used them in my own teaching this past week—both in family devotions and in my Sunday School class.
We've been reading through 1 Corinthians in family devotions, and this week we got to chapter 8, where Paul discusses eating meat sacrificed to idols. The principles Paul lays out in this chapter are easily applicable to any number of situations today, but the original issue being discussed is hard for modern readers to understand. I therefore needed a way to explain to my children what Paul was talking about and why it was a big deal. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I opened the PhotoGuide and went to the article on Corinth. There I was able to find a photo and diagram of the Asclepieion, a temple to the Greek god of healing which features several large dining facilities.
I was able to explain that this temple—and others like it—may have been a popular site for wedding celebrations and other community events, and the meat served there would invariably have come from animals sacrificed to the pagan god. This would have been a dilemma for early Christians who did not wish to ostracize their pagan neighbors and family members, but who also did not want to appear to be engaging in idolatry. Eating meat sacrificed to idols may seem foreign to my children, but they have often attended some special event at a local church's "fellowship hall," and they know the uncertainty of how to behave in a religious service which contains elements which are unfamiliar or even contrary to their beliefs. Seeing the pictures from the PhotoGuide helped my children understand this passage in its historical context and see that they have sometimes dealt with similar issues.
In my Sunday School class, we've been working our way through Exodus, and we've finally arrived at the instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle in chapter 25. This is the kind of passage which can be hard to read because we get lost in all the details of colored thread, dyed skins, acacia wood, and the like. Yet with the help of a few images or even videos, the Tabernacle can come alive and we can better understand not only this section of Exodus, but passages throughout the Bible, such as John 1:14 and Hebrews 9.
Accordance has such a wealth of material to help me in this area, my biggest problem in preparing for class was deciding which resources and illustrations I wanted to use. The PhotoGuide has an in depth article on the Tabernacle, many of the newest study Bibles feature beautiful illustrations of the tabernacle and its furnishings, the Rose Guide to the Tabernacle is a visual tour-de-force, and the Virtual Tour to the Temple has a series of videos exploring a modern reconstruction of the Tabernacle. Because we were just beginning our study of the Tabernacle, I began with Dr. Randall Price's video introduction to the Tabernacle from the Virtual Tour to the Temple. Dr. Price's explanation of the Hebrew word tavnith, meaning "pattern" or "blueprint", helped spark a great discussion in class about the importance of doing things according to God's plan rather than trying to come up with our own way.
Next week, we'll look at the ark of the covenant and other Tabernacle furnishings. I've already pulled a number of illustrations from the Rose Guide and other visual resources, and I plan on showing more videos from the Virtual Tour to the Temple.
Of course, good illustrations and videos do not automatically equal a good class, so I'm trying to choose those visual aids that will be most helpful in explaining the passages we're covering. Still, I have an embarrassment of riches to choose from, and that's a nice problem to have!
If you don't yet have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to visual resources in Accordance, be sure to take advantage of the current sale before it ends at 11:59 PM EDT tonight.