Big Brick Story helps kids learn the Bible

Sydney children’s minister Joel Moroney has created a series of 40 videos showing LEGO constructions he designed to illustrate every lesson in the NSW kindergarten SRE curriculum.

As SRE gets started for a new year, Moroney launched his Big Brick Story at the recent SRE conference in Sydney.

“People are very excited about using them in class,” he told Eternity from his car after attending the conference, where he presented a prize of a LEGO Bible to one attendee.

Attendees were also excited about using the new LEGO videos in their SRE classes, he says.

“Each video matches a lesson in the Beginning with God kindergarten Scripture curriculum,” he explains.

“The idea is that a teacher would teach the lesson and at the end say, ‘Hey, let’s see Joel and the summary of the lesson, and see the LEGO build that matches what we just learned.’”

Joel with his LEGO Bible

Joel with his LEGO Bible Big Brick Story/ YouTube

Although each two-minute video is directly connected to the Beginning with God curriculum, the material is accessible for anybody who wants to use LEGO to hear God’s word, not just kids.

“You don’t need to do the Scripture lesson beforehand. I tell the story all the way through. I connect it as one big story. So it might be useful for parents who want to do devotionals with their kids at night,” he says.

They are also free resources for Sunday school, for example.

“One of the reasons I wanted to do it all myself was that I had complete control over it. And I just released it out into ‘the wild’. Anybody can use it for any purpose they like.”

Moroney discovered the magic of using LEGO in SRE classes about five years ago. He created a LEGO Bible, which is a book made completely out of LEGO. When you open the book, inside is a pop-up scene made out of LEGO that illustrates the lesson.

“It looks like a normal Bible, except it’s plastic. And then when you open it up, there’s a pop-up scene that jumps out at you,” he explains.

“Each week I pop it out and put a new scene in …. It helps the kids see the Bible in a new, fresh way.”

Joel's LEGO model of creation

Joel’s LEGO model of creation BigBrick Story/ YouTube

Moroney said his kindergarten students wouldn’t let him start the lesson until they knew the LEGO Bible was ready for after the lesson.

“They’d be sitting in front going, ‘It’s here, we’re going to get through the lesson first.’ And then they get really excited because they knew it was time [for the LEGO Bible].

“I get them to guess what would be inside because whatever would be inside the Bible would match what we’ve just learned. So it’d be a reinforcement educational tool. I’d ask, ‘Tell me, based on what we’ve just learnt, what you think is inside here.’ And then we’d open it up and the kids would get excited. They’d say, ‘Yes, I got it right’ or ‘I see it!’.”

It wasn’t just the kindergarten kids who enjoyed the LEGO scenes.

“I would then teach two other classes directly afterwards, and they would ask me, ‘What did kindergarten do today? What did they have in the LEGO Bible?’ I’d say, ‘Well, when we get through our material and we’re doing our workbooks, I’ll come around with the LEGO Bible. And then I can teach you what kindergarten learned today as well. So it wasn’t just the young kids that latched onto it, even 12-year-olds would be going, ‘This is really exciting. This is something engaging and visual and we want to be part of it.’”

Moroney said children he taught five years ago still talk about the LEGO Bible. “So it’s had an impact on the kids who see it. They remember it and hopefully, then they’re also remembering the message that came with it.”

“LEGO is a way to … grab their attention so that they hear the even more incredible message of Jesus.”

Moroney was not a LEGO nerd himself from childhood. The idea of using LEGO to tell stories in kids ministry came from a colleague.

“I like creative storytelling, so I got some LEGO and then started from there. And then it blossomed to the point where I now have a room that’s just dedicated to storing LEGO pieces. It’s overflowing,” says Moroney, who has three sons aged ten, seven and five, who helped him build a ‘Parting of the Red Sea’ scene for the Big Family Build (Zenos Media) competition.

He completed the Big Brick Story last year during long service leave from his job as children’s minister at Willoughby Park Anglican, Sydney, where his colleague, youth minister Mike Snowdon, lent him his video equipment.

Moroney prays that the right people will find the material and use it, that children will see it “and see that the message of God is not just something for old people. It’s not something boring and dry, but it is engaging and it is relevant and it is exciting. LEGO is a way to get into that and to grab their attention so that they hear the even more incredible message of Jesus.

“I just pray that I can find more creative ideas to put into action and put out there and continue blessing the wider church with some resources.”