In recent years, Bible Exhibitions have been used as a means of reaching young people and adults with the message of the gospel and providing a deeper understanding of the Bible. Typically, they are set up in assembly premises and local schools are encouraged to send pupils to participate in guided tours. The emphasis tends to be on primary schools and, generally, at the P6 or P7 levels (Year 5 or Year 6 in England and Wales), although, while the emphasis in most cases is on children’s outreach, many churches take the opportunity to make the exhibition available to adults also.
There are a number of assembly exhibitions in the UK and at least three in Scotland. Most of them are well occupied and have been used in the spread of God’s word to young people. The schools are generally happy to bring their pupils along as the content fulfils much of their requirement to teach Christianity as part of the curriculum.
This article will concentrate on three of the Scottish exhibitions with which the writer is familiar – Bible Exhibition Scotland, The Brilliant Interactive Bible Learning Experience, and the Ultimate Adventure Exhibition – and contact details for each of these is included within the article.
The exhibitions vary in content and style – some more interactive than others, some word and text based and some more technologically based – but in all cases they contain a clear declaration of divine truth, a broad outline of the biblical story and clear statements of the gospel message.
The exhibition was initially known as the Ayrshire Bible Exhibition and has been in existence for the past thirty years. It was the vision of our late Brother Robert Stevely from Saltcoats who, with the help of some other brethren, turned his vision into reality. The exhibition has been used from Shetland to the Channel Islands. The decision was taken in 2013 to rename it Bible Exhibition Scotland and since then they have been working on a new exhibition which was completed in August 2016. In the course of an average year, approximately 5,000 children, along with their teachers, will visit the exhibition. It covers the following topics: Who is God, What is the Bible, How did we get the Bible, What’s in the Bible, and Why is the Bible important to me?
The tour begins with the fact that, ‘In the beginning, God’ and though this is not normally taught in our schools today, it has never been challenged by either the school children or teachers.
One of the great points about the Bible Exhibition is its relevance to the Christianity strand of Religious and Moral Education in the school curriculum and the following is a sample of what is included: Adam and Eve and the entrance of sin into the world; A nation born – Abraham, Joseph, Moses; the Ten Commandments; the Exodus; Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah and their fulfilment; the birth of Christ, miracles, parables, the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension; Acts, and Paul’s missionary journeys; two ways and the ‘Bridge to Life’. The guided tour is concluded by highlighting a number of well-known people and what Christ means to them.
The work required by the local assembly in preparation and hosting the exhibition is substantial, with schools to be contacted and scheduled visits planned and arranged.
At the end of the tour, there is a quiz about what the pupils have just learned and, during the tour, the children are encouraged to learn John chapter 3 verse 16. Each child leaves the exhibition with a pack containing a John’s Gospel and various pieces of literature, including a ‘free Bible offer’ card which often results in someone requesting a Bible.
Feedback from teachers is usually positive and the following was written by a head teacher recently: ‘What an inspiring morning. The exhibition brought the Bible to life. So many children remarked on how real it made the Bible feel to them. Every child was encouraged and thoroughly enjoyed the personal teaching of their guides. The quiz is a real high point of their experience and the point scoring board is ingenious. Many thanks for a terrific experience’.
The exhibition is often used as a building block for ongoing children’s work. As the children attend the exhibition, they are often introduced to weekly children’s meetings. After the exhibition is finished, prizes are awarded to the best in each class and there is usually an opportunity to give these out at the school assembly.
Since the commencement of the exhibition, it is estimated that in excess of 400,000 children have visited it. It has proved a tremendous instrument to reach the lost.
This exhibition was designed and put together by Gordon McCracken, who is a full-time children’s evangelist meeting with the assembly in Eastpark, Glasgow.
The Brilliant Interactive Bible Learning Experience, or Bible Experience for short, has been in use around the UK for the past three years. It was designed to appeal to all ages from primary school children to adults. The whole exhibition is made up of four zones which can be housed in different rooms. Alternatively, they can be used as stand-alone exhibitions if space or time is an issue. These zones are: Orange Zone – the Bible; Green Zone – the Old Testament; Red Zone – the New Testament; and Blue Zone – what Christians believe.
Each zone is modern, bright, colourful and filled with interactive exhibits that capture the imagination of both young and old. The panels have vivid graphics with easy-to-read scripture and interesting explanations, which could keep even the most intellectual reader engaged for hours.
Interspersed among the panels are audio-visual displays which are operated either by pushing a large red button or by a touch-screen interface. There are also interactive exhibits such as: A whale with a mouth that opens to reveal Jonah, a bronze serpent that casts the shadow of the cross, a rock formation from which water pours out and a replica of the garden tomb that has a stone which rolls back. These and many more exhibits work at the touch of the button and captivate visitors of all ages.
The exhibition has been set up in Gospel Halls for local primary schools to visit and for members of the public to view in the evenings. A good number of secondary schools have also been pleased to host the exhibition and use it to meet their curriculum requirements for religious education with all levels of pupils.
While some assemblies have sufficient numbers to man the exhibition themselves, others do not and we have a dedicated team of helpers from various assemblies who are willing to go with the exhibition around the country. Our desire is to share the gospel and the wonders of God’s word in a way that enthuses the visitor and encourages them to read the Bible for themselves.
With the objective of producing a colourful, child-friendly, gospel-centred exhibition that would faithfully tell the story of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, a small group of Christians, from the North East of Scotland, has designed and manufactured a Bible Exhibition that can be used by local assemblies to present the message of the Bible to reach young people in the P5-P7 age group (Years 4-6 in England and Wales).
They have achieved this through a series of 50-60 panels that are colourful, attractive and simple to understand, with interactive points around the display. Since 2005 the Ultimate Adventure Exhibition has been used in the North-East of Scotland, and beyond, by local assemblies.
The focus is on the main themes of the Bible, so sin, judgement and salvation are highlighted throughout with key symbols. A number of interactive panels ensure that there is variety within the tour.
The normal routine is for the exhibition to be set up in a hall for a period of five days. Prior to this, the local assembly will have invited schools and arranged a timetable for them to visit. Upon arrival at the exhibition the children are divided into four small groups and are directed to a guide who will take them through the exhibition for sixty minutes.
During the tour the children complete activity sheets as they are told the message of the Bible. Following the tour a review quiz will be given. As the children leave the building, they are always given a gift pack of suitable gospel literature with invitations to receive a Bible and Bible Lessons (through Bible Educational Services).
The hosting of the exhibition has seen local assemblies develop and strengthen contacts with local schools. One assembly that started going to the schools to take the prize-giving assembly now visits nine local schools between four and seven times a year to take assemblies.
There is still an open door in the UK for this type of work. If you would like to know more about ‘The Ultimate Adventure’ contact Paul Coxall on [email protected] or Murray Lawrie on [email protected]
From a personal point of view, our assembly in Aberdeen has used all three of these exhibitions at various times for one week over the past fifteen years or so. We have seen around 350 children with their teachers and support staff attend each year. The local schools in our area continue to view the experience in a very positive way and, from the springboard of the exhibitions, we have had opportunity, on occasions, to take school assemblies with the whole school present.
With the requirement for teachers to explore a variety of religions in the curriculum, there are real opportunities being presented for the spread of the gospel among a rising generation and these three exhibitions are great examples of effective tools in that process.