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Teaching the Twelve Apostles: Bartholomew

There is relatively little we know for certain regarding Bartholomew, other than his inclusion with the list of the twelve disciples. His name is the combination of two Hebrew words, “bar(son)” and “Talmai.” As it was common for sons to carry their father’s name, it's likely his father’s name was Talmai. “Bar” is part of other Biblical names. Examples include, Barabbas (son of the father), Barnabas (son of encouragement) and Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus).

There is some thought that Bartholomew is also Nathanael, who is mentioned in the Gospel of John. This is good reason to assume this. In the first three Gospels, what are called the synoptic Gospels, Bartholomew is listed closely with Philip. As you will read below, Philip finds Nathanael upon encountering Jesus. These common connections to Philip suggest Bartholomew and Nathanael are the same person. We will proceed under this assumption.

A New Kind of Sunday School

Excitement is in the air. You can feel the anticipation of kids getting ready for school, the sigh of relief from parents that they may get a small break now, and the flutter of teachers’ hearts (and stomachs) as they prepare for another school year. Or is it the sensation of tension you feel? The nervousness of kids getting ready for their first day back or maybe even the anxiety and stress of teachers and parents alike? This year, it seems to be a bit of both worlds, excitement and anxiety. It’s the unknown of what teaching and learning during this pandemic will feel like and how it will unfold in the following months. So what will your Sunday School look like this fall? There are several options to satisfy the unique needs of your students and families. Let’s take a look.

5 Summer Reads for Sunday School Teachers

Lounging in a hammock strung from the shady oak trees, sunglasses on, ice cold lemonade in one hand, and a great book in the other. This is my ideal picture of summer! Summer seems, for many of us, to be a time for sun, vacations, relaxing, and enjoying a new book. And for many teachers, it is also a time to re-focus and recharge for the coming year.

5 Non-Traditional Options for Teaching the Bible this Summer

Summer is almost here, and it is not starting off how we had all hoped. Everyone is scrambling trying to figure out if in-person events (from birthday parties to worship services and even summer school) will be held and, if so, how to hold them safely. Summer Sunday school can prove to be a challenge for administrators and teachers any year, but this year might be an even bigger challenge than prior years. Trying to figure out the best option for your students and their families can be difficult. So what options are there to keep your kids learning about Jesus throughout this summer? Let’s look at five non-traditional options.  

Teaching Parables: A House Divided

Jesus frequently performed miracles in the course of His earthly ministry. Mark 3 contains a couple examples of note. Jesus was near the synagogue on the Sabbath. Our Lord’s detractors were keeping a close vigil in hopes of catching Jesus in sin. Jesus taught with authority in the synagogue, yet He was often rejected by the Jewish religious authorities. Jesus healed many, including the man with the withered hand, and when evil spirits encountered Him, they cowered in fear. The scribes claimed He was possessed by a demon. Even our Lord’s family believed He was deranged.

In this context, accused of devilry, our Savior cleverly presents the parable of the house divided.

Engaging Your Congregation in Sunday School

You see members of your congregation regularly attending worship and being active within their small groups and social circles, but are they thinking of or active with the children growing in Jesus’ love during Sunday School? Does it even matter? Shouldn’t the parents be involved with their children and not have to “bother” the congregation members? Of course, parents should be involved with their child’s faith, but it is also important to have your congregation members engaged as well.  It can help parents feel connected to the church community, strengthen relationships across generations, and, most important, help students grow in their faith (and many times, the members as well!).

So now what? How do you start engaging your members with your Sunday School? The following are a few ideas to help involve your congregation with Sunday School.

Teaching Parables: The Faithful Servant

This parable is both Law and Gospel. It’s an admonition to be ready for Jesus’ return at the end of human history, but it is also the Gospel message that Jesus makes us ready for His triumphant return—the day He will make us whole in heaven.

How to Engage Parents with Your Sunday School

As you say goodbye to your students and watch them walk down the hall, hand in hand with their parents, do you ever wonder: Are they discussing the Bible with their kids? Are the lessons I am teaching being reinforced at home? Am I engaging my students’ parents enough?

Teaching Parables: The Wedding Feast and the Great Banquet

In polite society, we are raised with table manners: don’t hum or sing, keep your elbows off the table, place your napkin in your lap, don’t burp aloud (although this is allowed in some cultures as a compliment to the chef), don’t reach over another person’s plate. There are rules for seating at a dinner party as well, and Jesus makes reference to these in this month’s parables of the wedding feast and the great banquet.

Teaching Preschoolers God’s Truth about Hard Issues

Preschoolers often have big questions. To them, their questions aren’t so big. As they encounter new experiences that range from scraping a knee to a death in the family, they are simply trying to make sense of the world around them. However, to the adult of whom the question is asked, who has more life experience and understanding, the answer may seem very complicated. So, we wonder: How in the world am I going to explain this?