One day, my wife and I were caring for a six-year-old boy in our home as a way of helping out the boy’s dad, a single parent. The boy emerged wide-eyed from our storage room where we kept our visual aids for teaching and in an excited, matter-of-fact voice declared, “You guys sure have a lot of God stuff!”
I admit, we do have quite a collection of “God stuff.” And we use our “God stuff” whenever we can to help teach the Bible’s message to friends.
I’ve become a firm believer in the teaching power of visual aids. They not only help our students grasp biblical concepts, the visual aids also help in recall as well.
Those I’ve been privileged to teach have, for the most part, been biblically illiterate. I am realizing more and more how little people today know about the Bible. Even a book like The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus can be a daunting leap in their education journey.
Visual aids, then, become supplementary steppingstones to help students move from zero understanding to a clear grasp of biblical concepts. Those I’ve taught using visual aids and who have subsequently become believers almost always refer back to the visual aids—our “God stuff.” And they thank me for using them.
An interesting dynamic to using visuals is their ability to provide an instant review. Pull out a familiar visual aid and immediately, the student’s mind is refreshed by the story and its significance. I don’t really have to say a thing. The visual aid does the talking.
One time, after we finished teaching a young man, Greg,* who had became a believer in Jesus Christ, I handed him a visual aid and asked him to explain in his own words the biblical concept the object represented. He instantly became the teacher, explaining the significance of the visual aid, thus demonstrating his comprehension. He did an amazing job using our “God stuff” to convey to me his clear understanding. His grasp of the material was very accurate.
I also don’t think we can underestimate the value that a student subconsciously places in our message when they see us pulling out visual aids that have been carefully crafted and in which we have made an investment. The cumulative effect of our “God stuff” is they call out, “IMPORTANT MESSAGE!”
When we stop to consider how God used visuals—creation, ark, tabernacle, temple, sheep, blood, etc., to convey spiritual truth, it only makes sense that we do the same. If we are to teach as Jesus taught, it ought not to seem out of place to use visual aids. He used bread, fish, coins, mud, kids, wine, etc., not to mention that he himself was God incarnate, the most vivid visual aid in history—Emmanuel, God with us.
(*Name changed as per GoodSeed policy.)