Review: Show Them Jesus by Jack Klumpenhower
Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids by Jack Klumpenhower.
One of my former profs, Dr. Dennis Johnson, recently recommended this book to me. After devouring it yesterday afternoon, now I understand why.
The basic point of the book is stated right up front in the title: teaching the gospel to kids. In that sense, the content of the book wasn't a surprise at all. Yet over the course of eleven chapters, I found myself surprised and thrilled again and again by insights into the power of the gospel, both as it applies to myself and to those I teach. Don't let the title fool you; the content is just as applicable whether you interact with teens or kindergartners. In fact, a number of the stories Klumpenhower uses in the book draw on personal experiences with teenage students. I even have a sneaking suspicion that adult Bible study teachers would benefit by reading this book too!
The book is divided up into two main sections: 1) why teach the good news? and 2) how to teach the good news. The first section explores our need for the gospel and illustrates the gospel's heart-changing power. The second section gives guidelines for how to get to Christ from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament. But surprisingly, he then goes on to discuss a gospel-centered teaching environment, the roots of sin in kids' lives and how to apply the gospel deeply to those sins, and how to include prayer in interactions with students to cement the gospel in their minds—all of which are often overlooked.
To help readers grasp the material more easily, each chapter ends with two common features. First, Klumpenhower includes a list of questions (with answers) that readers might have about the chapter's content. Second, each chapter closes with a list of suggestions to various groups in the church (teachers, parents, youth workers, etc.) on applying the chapter to your specific situation.
Throughout the whole book, Klumpenhower uses lots of stories from his personal experience to illustrate his points. I appreciated that these stories are just as much about personal failure as about success. Anyone who has ever taught children or youth knows that you fall on your face a lot when teaching: missing a great teaching opportunity, responding poorly to a teen's antics, not keeping the attention of students, etc. By sharing his successes as well as his failures, Klumpenhower reminded me that I need the gospel just as much as my students! It alone should define who I am.
To sum up, Show Them Jesus is a fascinating, personal, and readable primer on teaching the Bible in a way that highlights the power of the gospel to change lives. Just like my prof, I would highly recommend it as a resource to teachers, parents, and youth workers.