I never imagined myself working daily in a classroom setting. Memories of my mind drifting in class, doodling during lessons, texting on my phone, and browsing social media convinced me that being in charge of any classroom, let alone a Christian classroom, would be an unbearable task. Fast forward many years and I’m still not a teacher. However, as a pastor I have been given the amazing opportunity to teach Bible classes to twelfth, eighth and fifth grade students at Fraser Valley Adventist Academy in British Columbia, Canada.
When teaching in Adventist educational institutions, we continuously consider how to instill Christianity into the children’s daily interactions. What are practical methods we can use to encourage our children to grow in spirituality? As a pastor, I figured the way I can incorporate faith into my classrooms is to see my students as church members; and church members are required to be active. A church grows when members are given opportunities to participate and express their spiritual journey when we congregate on Sabbath, whether that is through music, testimonies, or other ministries.
Bringing this concept into my classrooms has allowed me to incorporate faith daily. Every day, a student shares a devotion to the class. They find a verse that stands out to them, explain why it speaks to them, and pray for the class after taking any prayer requests their peers may have. Doing this, gives students the opportunity to internalize and share the Word of God. Students are also given the opportunity to intercede on behalf of their classmates in prayer. This brings faith into the classroom and sparks spiritual growth because there is a requirement to do something intentional associated with God.
I’ve found that another key factor in integrating faith in the classroom is to create a culture of safety and vulnerability. Initially, it is up to the teacher to set that standard. As the classroom leader, we must be willing to open up so that our students know that they can open up as well. When we take the risk to open up, it motivates others to follow the same example. When a culture of safety and vulnerability exists, students naturally begin to ask difficult questions and share about the obstacles and successes in their spiritual journey. Faith can be incorporated into the classroom when the classroom is not seen simply as a place where students come to be told something. It needs to be a place where they can share and grow.
While these are the methods I’ve used personally, there are many more ways to instill faith in our schools. Let us continue to make our institutions places where our students grow in their spirituality.