Heather Mackinnon (HM) interviewed Jen Vowels to find out what authentic Christian education looks like in the junior high Bible classroom.

HM: How would you say our Bible program is different from just Sunday school?

JV: Ours is an in-depth, methodical, chronological, thematic study of the entire Canon of Scripture.

HM: Phew! What does that look like?

JV: In Seventh Grade we begin talking about the main themes of the Scriptures - the entire Bible.

We talk about sin and the slavery of it. And then the redemptive power of the Lord Jesus coming and buying us out of the slave market of sin.

We talk about Law where humans are taught who they are and then we talk about Grace where Jesus comes and not only lives the life sinful humans couldn't live, but pays for - atones for - the sin that they could never atone for.

HM: Wow – that sounds like a full year and that you’re giving them very thorough grounding in the Gospel and the Bible as a whole!

If there’s any time left, what are some other approaches or aspects of Junior High Bible for our Seventh Graders?

JV: Aside from these key thematic elements, we also lay some foundations about the Characters in the Great Story of the Bible: “Who are the characters within those Scriptures? What are their names? What was a Prophecy in their life? What was a Prophecy they proclaimed?”

HM: Anything else?

JV: Yes! We study the Biblical Festivals that God instituted. Students see how they work together in setting up the timetable into which the Lord Jesus would come.

We study the Passover specifically and learn how it perfectly predicts so many details of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross. If students don't have that premise, then they don't understand how profound it is that God made it obvious that “This is Messiah. “

HM: Ok, so after that Foundational year in Seventh Grade – what do our Eighth Graders learn?

JV: In Eighth Grade, we start with the New Testament. We cover the life of the Lord Jesus.

The kids actually make a timeline of the entire life of Christ, all the way to his Ascension. Over the course of the year, they will survey the entire New Testament.

After covering the Gospels and then the Epistles, they'll go into the apocalyptic text - the book of The Revelation. After that, they'll go into Church History.

From the book of Acts, they learn about the Early Church - the Persecuted Church – and then the ministry of Paul from Acts and the Epistles.

In our Church History Unit, we begin again at the Early Church and then build it all the way from time of Paul and Peter to the modern day.

We explore questions like,

"How did all of these other religions come about? When did that happen? What did the Church look like at different times in history? Who were the people God used as instruments of change within the Church to get where we are today? And why do people in the world believe so many different things?"

HM: So, students learn all of that within junior high?

JV: Yes – it’s just phenomenal!

HM: Agreed. Amazing opportunity, and so important in our culture today and in the preparation of this generation to lead, think, and live Biblically.

Thank you for talking with us – we will be praying for your students and for this amazing life’s work at this precious place called Bethesda!

Thank you.