Blogroll: Children Desiring God

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God Centered Resources for the Next Generation
Updated: 9 min 16 sec ago

2 Timothy 2:15 Students

Tue, 28/03/2017 - 13:00

15 Students

Here are is an exhortation from David and Sally Michael from their conference message, “A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation”:

Children need to learn how to rightly handle the Word through incremental age-appropriate instruction in studying Scripture through the use of inductive Bible study skills.

Exposure to the whole counsel of God is vital, but children must also be taught to rightly understand the Word. Our children and young people need the same prodding that Paul gave to his spiritual son:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

In a postmodern culture where it is acceptable to define your own truth, children must realize that truth is not “what a Bible verse means to me,” but rather that truth is found in discovering the author’s original intent interpreted in light of the whole message of the Bible, leading to the God-given meaning of the text. Therefore, we must guide the next generation to be students of the Word who have the necessary tools to interpret Scripture correctly, as Paul did for Timothy:

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.—2 Timothy 2:7

Start with simple questions about texts as children are young, and give them more tools as they mature. This is in direct opposition to what is happening in our culture as we move from a language-based system of learning to an image base.

It will be very difficult for children to become serious students of the Word if they are used to a steady diet of sound bite technology. Over exposure to sound bite technology will reap a crop of students who are incapable of serious, careful Bible study, who will not be equipped and competent for every good work.

We must impress on the next generation the discipline of Bible study—careful observation of the text; thoughtful, objective interpretation; and appropriate life-application—as well as the value of meditating on the Word “day and night” and memorizing Scripture.

Questions to Think About
  • Are we careful to emphasize and use “the Book” in our teaching rather than media and “sound bite technology”?
  • Do we have age-appropriate goals and measures in place for assessing our students Bible study skills?
  • Does the curriculum we use encourage and help students to interact with the text?
  • Are we providing our students with resources that will instruct them in proper Bible study skills?
  • Are our teachers adequately trained in the use of inductive Bible study methods?

 

Categories: Christian Resources

The Call to Make Disciples

Mon, 27/03/2017 - 13:00

The Call to Make Disciples

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave every Christian in every century a commission with eternal significance:

…”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:18-20, ESV

Our calling is very clear—to “make disciples.” This is the greatest work in which to invest our lives! Christ’s mandate to us is to see spiritual interest awaken, new birth come forth, and then foster steady steps toward maturity in Christ…but it is a mandate wrought with privilege and true joy.

Sadly, in this century we have somewhat lost the meaning of “disciple” and “discipleship.” Churches talk about discipleship. We even have discipleship programs…but there exists only a vague notion of what a “disciple” is, and little tangible evidence that we are “making disciples.” This is especially true among the children’s programs of the church. Materials are often aimed at conversion, a worthy and necessary part of discipleship, but an inadequate fulfillment of Jesus’ commission to us.

In his book, The Disciple-Making Parent, Chap Bettis enlightens us with these words:

Disciple means learner, a person who wanted to learn from and take on the pattern of his rabbi. Interestingly the word Christian only occurs three times in the New Testament, while the word disciple occurs 269 times. Unfortunately, today the word Christian has the connotation of a status our children hold, a card they carry, disconnected from their daily activities. Disciple, on the other hand, implies a lifelong commitment to seek after, learn from, and stay close to our rabbi, Jesus.

(The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ, copyright©2016, page 7)

The Call to Be a DiscipleToo often perhaps, we encourage our children to be “Christian” and fall short of encouraging lifelong true discipleship. Are we raising disciples who stand firm in the face of ridicule, temptation, or persecution? Do our children daily, consciously live to bring glory to Jesus Christ, ignoring the pull to be conformed to this world? Can we say that our churches are raising a generation that is faithful to the Word, “rightly handling the Word of truth,” (2 Timothy 2:15) unwavering in their commitment to defend the Gospel? Will this generation be committed to please God by their words, actions, and heart attitudes, brokenly confessing when they fail to do so? In short, will they be true disciples, or merely identify themselves as “Christian” in name?

Though we must preach and teach the Gospel faithfully and fully, which is the primary means by which the Holy Spirit converts the soul, we must aim beyond conversion. So, aiming beyond conversion or, as Jesus put it, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” how does Jesus tell us to make disciples? By “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The word “all” makes this sound like a daunting task, but even more daunting is the word “observe.” It implies that a person not only is taught the truth, but that he agrees with, embraces, and lives out the teaching—involving the mind, the heart, and the will. It defines a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Beautiful or Beastly? Which is it?

Wed, 22/03/2017 - 12:00

Beautiful or Beastly? Which Is It?

As a 10-year-old, my daughter loved the Disney animated movie Beauty and the Beast. Last weekend the much anticipated, hyped, and controversial Disney live-action version came out. It is amazing to note the cultural changes that have come about in the intervening 26 years between the two movies. Would I bring a 10-year-old daughter to this new version?

Before making a decision, I would want to read Jasmine Holmes’ very helpful article for parents, “Do You Trust Disney with Your Kids?” Here is a really important point she makes:

My parents never took me to see a movie without looking into it first. When I got older, it was my job to do some research to see what we were getting into before we went. The fact that we need to exercise care with the agenda mass media puts forth should not be new to us as Christians. If this is our awakening that we can’t trust anything Disney to go directly to our kids, has not our awakening been long overdue? How naïve would we have been to assume we could trust Disney until now?

Beautiful or Beastly? Which Is It?She concludes the article with this wise advice:

Whether it is a message in a movie, a conversation at school, or the outpourings of their own wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9), we are responsible for teaching and guiding our little ones.

Maybe for your family that means making an informed decision to watch a movie now and have a pointed conversation about Hollywood’s agenda before or afterwards, or both. For another family, it may mean helping their child navigate a tough conversation with classmates about why they didn’t see the new movie. Either way, this is a valuable opportunity we must not miss.

No matter how innocuous or graphic this “exclusively gay” moment turns out to be, this movie isn’t pushing a new idea on us—but reflecting the ideologies of our neighbors. And the remedy for this ideology isn’t blind anger, but purposeful proclamation of the gospel of Christ, beginning with our own children, whether we see the movie or not.

(found at www.desiringgod.org)

You may also want to listen to Dr. Albert Mohler’s podcast, “What signal is being sent? Disney to have first ‘exclusively gay moment’ in ‘Beauty and the Beast'” here (at the 6:40 minute mark).

Finally, here is a guide to use with your children based on Philippians 4:8. Even if you decide not to allow your own children to see the movie, these questions can be used to help guide and explain your decision to your children and others. The questions posed are applicable not just to movies but to books and music as well. (The guide is from the Teacher’s Guide for the Your Word is Truth curriculum.)

Should I Read, Watch or Listen to This?

 

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

What Are They Reading, Watching and Listening to?

Tue, 21/03/2017 - 12:00

What Are They Reading, Watching and Listening To?

Here is a simple checklist from the Teacher’s Guide for the Your Word is Truth youth curriculum with questions based on Philippians 4:8. These questions can serve as a guide in helping you discuss and evaluate books, television, movies, and music with your children and students.

Should I Read, Watch or Listen to This?

 

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Teaching By Example

Mon, 20/03/2017 - 12:00

Teaching By Example

In her seminar titled, “Teaching Children the Fear of the Lord,” Sally Michael reminds us of the importance of teaching from a heart that loves and embraces the truths being taught.

Like so many spiritual things, the fear of the Lord is better “caught” than “taught.” Children very often pick up our attitudes—those we respect, they tend to respect. Our attitude toward God is also sensed by them—not so much by our words, but by our actions, and our heart affections; it is very easy for them to sense what we feel, to honor what we honor, and to disregard what we disregard.

So the first step we must take in helping our children to fear the Lord is to examine our own hearts. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves:

• Am I humble and contrite before the Lord, respecting His authority over me, and recognizing His infinite greatness?

• How seriously do I take the word of God? Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I diligently apply it to my life, obey its commands conscientiously, take its warnings seriously, and heed its teaching? Do I take in the whole scope of Scripture, even the hard truths and stories?

• Do I submit to God’s authority over me joyfully and willingly? Do I complain about His providences or trust Him in them?

• Do I live in daily awareness of His presence recognizing that all I do, say, think, and feel are before His gaze?

• Am I eager to follow and obey God, or am I straining to get my own way? Am I consistent in my obedience?

• Am I grateful for His correction and discipline?

• Do I hate evil? Do I quickly turn away from it, not entertaining anything that would pollute my soul?

This is not an exhaustive list but it does lead us to examine our hearts. Perhaps the overarching question we must ask is: Can we say to our children, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 ESV).

Teaching By Example

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Digital Bibles for Teaching Children?

Wed, 15/03/2017 - 12:00

Digital Bibles for Teaching Children?

Here is a pertinent observation and question left by one of our blog readers recently:

I have been told that this generation of children will no longer use an actual Bible, but rather a tablet or phone, and that being able to use a Bible is not as important as it was ten years ago. The same goes with concordances and other Bible helps. Do you agree? What practically do you think is the best way to teach children?

Great question! And yes, I do have some thoughts about this. But before I give my opinion, it’s first helpful to reflect upon the nature of the Bible itself. For example:

  • The Bible is “God-breathed” and divinely inspired.
  • The Bible is inerrant and completely trustworthy.
  • The Bible is the full canon of Scripture—all 66 books—given to us in written form.
  • The Bible is characterized by its absolute authority, clarity, sufficiency, and necessity.
  • The Bible is God’s one Word to us, communicating one main, unified, overarching message, through its diverse 66 books.

With these truths in mind, it is readily apparent that the Bible is utterly unique and separate from any other story or book. That is why I still love the designation “The Holy Bible.” That said, I fully believe the Bible’s words are authoritative and true whether we read them to our class from a Smartphone device, iPad®, or in “old-fashioned” printed form. God’s Word is God’s Word. The medium we use does not change or alter that. However, there is something we should not lose sight of: The medium we use cannot be completely disassociated from the message. What do I mean? Here is an example:

My five-year-old grandson knows how to use his parent’s iPad®. With it, he can access educational games, videos, family pictures, and more. That same iPad® can also be used to access God’s Holy Word. In his mind, the device is a smorgasbord of options. Is God’s Word more or less likely to stand out to him as unique and holy when it is among these other fun options? So, one reason I prefer using a printed version for teaching children is…

  • A printed Bible helps remind our children and students that the Bible is utterly unique, “set-apart,” holy.  

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Using a printed Bible helps reinforce the entirety of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. Every time we look up an individual text, we are reminded that it is tied (and literally “bound”) to the whole of Scripture and occupies a certain historical place (i.e., Old Testament and New Testament).
  • A printed Bible lends itself to a better understanding of the permanence and unchanging nature of Scripture. Digital devices lose power, get viruses and bugs, and are constantly being improved upon. Yet my husband still has his grandfather’s Bible from a more than a century ago. Will the device your child uses now to access the Bible still be usable in even 20 years? It will be a dinosaur!
  • A printed Bible can assist our children and students to make a more personal connection with Scripture and, by God grace, embrace it. I still have the Bible my parents gave me 40 years ago. It has underlining, notes in the margins, and other personal reflections. It records a testimony of how God personally fed and nourished me with His holy Word during those early years as a Christian. Printed Bibles offer this same opportunity for our children and students.

Digital Bibles for Teaching Children?

Because of these reasons…

I advocate primarily using a physical, printed Bible for teaching children and youth.

Please note the word: “primarily.” I do believe there is a place for using a digital form of Scripture, whether it be on a device, PowerPoint®, etc. There are definitely times and situations where digital may be preferred and beneficial. But in the classroom and for our children’s personal study and devotions, I believe that the printed Word is preferable. Even if you use a digital device to prepare your lesson, I would encourage you to read from a printed Bible in the classroom and encourage your students to do the same.

Finally, I would encourage you to read Matthew Barrett’s article, “Dear Pastor, Bring Your Bible to Church.” Although it is directed at pastors, all the principles are applicable to teachers. Here is his conclusion:

No doubt, my warning touches an uncomfortable and irritable nerve. To insult our use of technology is one of the seven deadly sins in the 21st century. Technology infiltrates and saturates everything we do, and therefore defines everything we are, for better or worse. But is this subtle shift changing the way we read the Scriptures? Is it ever-so-quietly removing the visual centerpiece of the local assembly? I think so. And while I never imagined I would have to say this, I close with the following admonition: Dear pastor, bring your Bible to church.

(found at www.thegospelcoalition.org)

Categories: Christian Resources

Imparting Truth with Exultation

Tue, 14/03/2017 - 12:00

Imparting Truth with Exultation

In his sermon, One Generation Shall Praise Your Works to Another, John Piper challenges us to not only pass on biblical truth, but to also do it in a manner that testifies to the greatness and worth of God.

It is the Biblical duty of every generation of Christians to see to it that the next generation hears about the mighty acts of God. God does not drop a new Bible from heaven on every generation. He intends that the older generation will teach the newer generation to read and think and trust and obey and rejoice. It’s true that God draws near personally to every new generation of believers, but he does so through the Biblical truth that they learn from the preceding generations. The Spirit comes down vertically (you might say) where the truth of God is imparted horizontally.

But there is another reason that Psalm 145:4 is so relevant to our theme this morning. Not only does it speak of the imparting of truth from one generation to another, it speaks of a certain kind of imparting. It is an imparting with exultation and for exultation. Notice the words. It does not say, “One generation shall merely teach Your works to another.” It says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another.” Praise is exultation in God. The education of the next generation must not only aim at exultation, it must involve exultation.

Teachers and parents who do not exult over God in their teaching will not bring about exultation in God. Dry, unemotional, indifferent teaching about God—whether at home or at church—is a half-truth, at best. It says one thing about God and portrays another thing. It is inconsistent. It says that God is great, but teaches as if God is not great.

Psalm 145:4 shows us another way: “One generation shall praise Your works to another.” Let praises carry the truth to the next generation, because the aim of truth is praise. The aim of education is exultation. So let education model exultation in the way it is done.

(John Piper, Copyright ©2013 Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringGod.org)

Categories: Christian Resources

Helping Children Understand the Cost of Following Jesus

Mon, 13/03/2017 - 12:00

Helping Children Understand the Cost of Following Jesus

Years ago my son stepped through the doors of an Army recruitment office. He was given a wonderful and glorious picture of army life—one filled with financial benefits and exciting adventures. You’d be crazy NOT to join up. But, unbeknownst to the recruiter, our son had been given a prior “recruitment” talk by a good friend and mentor who had been in the army for 20 years (including two, year-long deployments into war zones). He gave our son a much more realistic and truthful picture. It was with this latter understanding that our son signed up. He counted the cost and joined because he was committed to a cause he believed in, knowing that hard work, self-sacrifice, suffering, and war was ahead.

I wonder sometimes if we are prone to a subtle type of recruitment mentality when we present the Gospel to children. Please don’t get me wrong—the Gospel IS the most glorious news of all, and we should be gladly sharing with our children and students the truth of the incomparable benefits and all-satisfying joy of trusting in Jesus and following Him. Jesus alone is “the way and the true and the life.” But, do we also help them understand that there is a cost in following Jesus?

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24, ESV)

Recently, Jared Wilson wrote an article titled, “Men Wanted: Come and Die.”  In it he states:

Helping Children Understand the Cost of Following JesusHave you ever seen a military recruitment poster or TV ad that showed wounded soldiers? Ever seen one that showed soldiers taking bullets, medics administering morphine to blood-gushing comrades, or an array of battle-hardened quadriplegics?

No, you have not. We recruit soldiers by showing shiny weapons, technologically advanced machines and systems, adventurous locales, and strong, healthy men and women using them, engaging in them, and bravely enjoying them.

But not Paul. He will not whitewash the mission. As Christ says, “Count the cost” and “Take up your cross” and “Die to self,” Paul’s recruitment slogan is: Share in suffering.

In 2 Timothy 2:7, he writes, “Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.” He wants disciples of Jesus to consider what he’s just laid out for them, which is that Christianity is about suffering like a soldier, training like an athlete, and working hard like a farmer. One thing these three examples have in common is a stubborn commitment to a diligent daily grind for a payoff that is not instant or immediate.

(found at http://ftc.co/)

This is not to say that we include a prolonged or overly morbid description about suffering whenever we present the Gospel to children. However, we should help our children and students recognize, in age-appropriate ways, that there is a cost involved in following Jesus. What might this look like?

Helping Children to Understand the GospelIn our booklet “Helping Children to Understand the Gospel,” we present 10 essential truths for children to know and embrace. Here is essential truth 10:

Those who trust in Jesus will live to please Him and will receive the promise of eternal life-enjoying God forever in heaven. (Luke 9:23; John 11:25; 1 John 2:15; Psalm 16:11)

Here is how we suggest you could explain this truth:

If you want to play the piano or be on a baseball team, would you expect it would take a certain amount of time and practice? Would it be a good thing to think about this before you started piano lessons or joined the baseball team? Why? Because there is a “cost” involved to the choices we make. If you want to play the piano well, it will demand your time because you will have to practice. You will need to give up other things in order to practice and to go to lessons. What might you have to give up in order to play the piano well? What will you need to change in order to be a good baseball player?

Salvation is a free gift offered to you by God and it is given to everyone who truly repents and is trusting in Jesus. But this free gift will cost you your whole life! What does that mean? It means you must do things Jesus’ way instead of your own way. It means every day you must trust and follow Jesus for the rest of your life—when you’re 10, 20, 50, and even 90 years old. In order to do this, there are things you will have to give up and things you will need to change.

For example, you will need to spend time praying instead of just playing. You will need to spend time reading your Bible instead of just watching television. You will need to spend time thinking about God instead of just thinking about friends. That is hard work! Have you thought about the “cost” of trusting in Jesus? Are you ready to truly repent and trust Jesus, and then do things His way for the rest of your life? Even when you get old?

God has a promise for everyone who is trusting in Jesus: He will give you a special Helper, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God, and He lives inside every person who trusts in Jesus. The Holy Spirit is all-powerful, and He is there to help you with the hard work of doing things Jesus’ way. The Holy Spirit will begin to change you, so you love, trust, obey, and enjoy God more and more.

There is a cost to following Jesus, but God has promised a huge reward for everyone who trusts in Jesus—a reward that is so great and exciting that it is better than anything we can even imagine. What is it? Eternal life! Eternal life is living forever with God in heaven. Heaven is a real place where everyone who is trusting in Jesus will someday go to live. God’s people will not sin anymore. Our bodies will be perfect. No more being sick, or dying, or feeling hurt or lonely. There will be no bad things in heaven. Everything will be clean and perfect and beautiful, but those things aren’t even the best part of heaven. The best part of heaven is that God will live there with His people. We will finally get to really see Jesus! There is nothing and no one who is more amazing, great, wonderful, beautiful, and exciting than Jesus. Being with Jesus will make us happy forever.

Categories: Christian Resources

What Might God Do in Your Backyard This Summer?

Wed, 08/03/2017 - 13:00

 

 

What Might God do in Your Backyard this Summer?

What are your summer plans? Perhaps you will visit relatives, take a vacation, or soak up the sun at a neighborhood pool or lake? These are all great opportunities, but summer also affords us a unique opportunity to spread the Gospel through backyard Bible clubs.

Every member of your family can take part in the wonderful ministry of a backyard Bible club—whether it be extending invitations, teaching a lesson, leading singing, supervising a craft or game, or just loving the children who come.

Here is how a backyard Bible club works. Most meet for five sessions, usually five mornings or afternoons of the same week, but you could host it in the evening or stretch it out over several weeks. Invite the children of your neighbors, coworkers, or relatives. Invite your children’s classmates or any children you know. Hold the club in your backyard…or front porch…or garage…or at the neighborhood park. Though an hour and a half is the recommended length, you could meet for as little as an hour or as much as three hours. Any size group will work as long as you have sufficient help for the number of children. The kindergarten to sixth grade age range is ideal, but with the right support, other ages can be included.

What Might God do in Your Backyard this Summer?The main element of the club is a Bible teaching time, but singing, games, crafts, snacks, and worksheets can all be included. There is a handout for the parents each time, which gives you an opportunity to influence them as well as their children with the Gospel.

Sometimes families or small groups partner to host a club. Sometimes a family will volunteer their yard and invite the children, and their church will provide a teacher. Some groups hold a program during the last club meeting or in the evening of the last day, inviting the parents to come. Others have shown the Jesus video and invited the families of the children to attend.

We have seen that these simple clubs open the door for further evangelism. Some children identify your house as “the Bible house” or the teacher as “the Bible lady.” This encourages further spiritual input into the lives of these children that you see on a regular basis. Sometimes a woman’s Bible study springs from the Bible club with the mothers of the children who attend. Often these clubs are a springboard for a bigger vision of ministry to a neighborhood. (See the book Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: Blessing Your Neighborhood Through Love & Prayer by Mary Lance V. Sisk.)

God has placed children who do not know Him in your lives for a purpose. Might that purpose be so that you can be salt and light to them and their families? Might you consider holding or helping with a backyard Bible club this summer?

To get started with hosting your own backyard Bible club, learn more about the four summer curricula from Children Desiring God. Each of the evangelical studies has five lessons and can be used in backyard Bible club or vacation Bible school settings. Themes include the Work of God in redemption, kingdom parables, the greatness of God in salvation, and wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Get ACTIVE in the Classroom!

Tue, 07/03/2017 - 14:50

Get Active in the Classroom!

One of the God-given means for influencing the heart and the will is to encourage students to be active participants in the learning process. Most people would agree that it is good for children to be involved in the learning process. Most of us could even give reasons why this is so:

  • Makes the lessons more interesting, and therefore helps children to pay attention (easy for their minds to wander if you are doing all the talking)—Students do not get bored if they are actively participating in the learning process.
  • Children will often remember the concepts longer if they have been involved in the learning process.
  • When children are involved in the discovery of knowledge themselves,  sometimes they can internalize truth better—discovering a Bible truth sometimes causes that truth to be embraced in the heart rather than just understood in the head

These are all true, but how to get children involved seems to be much more difficult to grasp. There is the total “hands on” approach where the child is actively involved in a learning activity, but often the result is that the child had a lot of fun, the experience was very time consuming, and while some of the subject matter was absorbed, very little real learning occurred. I think the problem is that we often confuse “activity” with “active learning”—by active learning, I mean, that the mind is active, not necessarily the body.

Please hear this correctly—I am not against children getting up and writing on the board, participating in role plays and demonstrations, putting together visuals—being active while they learn—in fact, we encourage that, especially in the younger ages but…

active learning goes beyond activity. Active learning involves children’s minds interacting with the subject matter; they are thinking—discovering, imagining, questioning, organizing, analyzing, evaluating, drawing conclusions, and applying the material.

Get Active in the Classroom

If we just sit children down and tell them what to believe, they may not be comprehending, agreeing with, or internalizing the truth—and the same may be true if we ask them to act out a Bible story, retell a story, or recite a Bible verse

We want them to be able to look at a text in the Bible…carefully observe and rightly interpret the text; make real application of that truth to their own lives, and eventually respond in faith to that truth—embrace it, own it, live by it …and be willing to die for it.

When children are little, we must tell them much of what they need to learn—they are little sponges soaking up everything—but by fifth grade, when they can begin to think logically, we need to be dialoguing with children, asking questions, and expecting answers.

By leading children and youth logically through a series of questions designed to lead them to correct conclusions, we are encouraging them to discover what God actually says in His Word—our questions should teach them to observe, interpret, and apply the truth. The mind then becomes a conduit for the truth to reach the heart.


Categories: Christian Resources

Will They Be Disciples?

Mon, 06/03/2017 - 13:00

Will They Be Disciples

Here is a two-question quiz for your children and students:

1. Are you a disciple of Jesus?

2. What does it mean to be His disciple?

Why ask these two questions? Consider these words…

“Go make disciples.” With these words, Jesus commissions all his followers to make other followers, called disciples. Disciple means learner, a person who wanted to learn from and take on the pattern of his rabbi. Interestingly, the word Christian only occurs three times in the New Testament, while the word disciple occurs 269 times. Unfortunately, today the word Christian has the connotation of a status our children hold, a card they carry, disconnected from their daily activities. Disciple, on the other hand, implies a lifelong commitment to seek after, learn from, and stay close to our rabbi, Jesus.

(Chap Bettis, The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ, copyright©2016, page 7)

Lately, I’ve been wondering if we fall short in emphasizing this important discipleship focus in our parenting and children’s and youth ministries. We are rightfully concerned with presenting biblical content—what they must believe. We rightly focus on the Gospel and the necessity for conversion—repentance and belief in Jesus. But sometimes we are less diligent in showing them how to apply, practice, and live out those beliefs in daily life, throughout their entire lives.

One way we can renew this discipleship emphasis is to make use of resources in both church and home that use a discipleship model.

Church

Carefully look for curricula and resources that foster life-long instruction in and practice of the Christian faith. Here are some things we have done at Children Desiring God in order to help churches toward this goal:

  • We have carefully developed a scope and sequence that is designed to progressively move children and students toward greater spiritual growth as we focus on proclaiming the whole counsel of God.
  • Use a relational, interactive teaching style in which the evidences of Christian discipleship are clearly communicated and visibly demonstrated.
  • Apportion a time of “Application” following every lesson in which students are challenged and encouraged to follow Jesus in specific ways in their daily lives.
  • Intentionally provide parent pages (called Growing in Faith Together or GIFT Pages) for the home that equip parents in leading their children in daily discipleship.
The Disciple-Making ParentParents

Here is a great place to begin:

The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ by Chap Bettis

Categories: Christian Resources

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 9-11

Wed, 01/03/2017 - 13:00

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children

In my previous post, Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 6-8, I mentioned two main ways in which we can encourage and help children grow in their proficiency in reading and understanding the Bible:

1. Teach precept upon precept by introducing specific Bible skills and concepts at appropriate ages.

2. Teach in a way that encourages the children to be actively involved with the text.

Now, I would like to aim our thinking toward ages 9-11. At this age, students should be encouraged and expected to interact with more and more text, including reading passages aloud. During classroom time, their Bibles should be open more often than not, and most should be able to quickly look up two or more passages of Scripture during a lesson and be able to examine larger portions of text.

Helpful hints and practical ideas for doing this:

1. Strategically Assign Passages

Be strategic in the passages you assign to the students. Time does not always permit that all the students look up and read every passage in the lesson. If you have many texts to look at in a particular lesson, you may want to assign students to each look up a passage before the lesson begins, and then call on them to read their assigned passage during the lesson. Even if you are reading the text to the class, you can encourage your students to be actively engaged.

EXAMPLE: In your lesson preparation, highlight several key words from the passage. Before you read the passage to the class, explain to the children that, as you read the text to them, you are going to stop at several points, not saying the word that comes next. They are to follow along in their own Bibles and when you stop, they are to call out the next word.

2. Ask Systematic Questions

Lead the children through a systematic series of questions in order for them to understand the structure and meaning of the text.

Whenever possible, ask questions in a way that requires them to really look at the text, so that they really have to interact with it.

3. Encourage Application

Intentionally lead and encourage the children to apply the text to their own lives.

EXAMPLE: The parable of the unforgiving servant from Matthew 18:23-35

“… [26] So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ [27] And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. [28] But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe…. [35] So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”  (ESV)

Types of questions to ask:

In this parable, we have three main characters or people. Who are they?

Look at verse 26. What does the word “imploring” mean?

According to the beginning of verse 27, why did the king forgive the servant? What specific word does the Bible use to describe the king’s feeling toward this servant?

Why is verse 28 surprising? How would you compare the debt of the first servant to the debt of the second servant?

Look at verse 35. What is the warning in this verse? Who is the king in the story like, us or God? Who are we to be like, the first or second servant? However, are we more like the second servant sometimes? Is this pleasing to God?

You might also want to ask the students if they can think of other verses in Scripture that address the same theme. For example, ask the students: Can you think of other verses that talk about how we are to be forgiving? (e.g., Ephesians 4:32) This challenges them to recall prior information learned and see how it relates to other texts—emphasizing a unity in the Bible’s message.

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children

4. Teach Context

Teach the students about “context.”

EXAMPLE: From the above story in Matthew 18 ask, Why did Jesus tell this parable?  Look at the two verses that come before the story, verses 21 and 22.

5. Make Old and New Testament Connections

Demonstrate how to look for and make connections between important Old and New Testament concepts.

EXAMPLE: John 1:29
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Questions to ask: Why would John the Baptist describe Jesus in this way? In the Old Testament, what important role did lambs play in the forgiveness of sin? How did Jesus become like one of those lambs? 

6. Use Study Helps

Introduce some basic study helps, such as a concordance, Bible dictionary, maps, and timelines. These should not be too extensive or complex. It may simply include showing the kids how to use the study helps included in their Bibles.

7. Encourage At Home Study

Encourage Bible study resources for use in the home. We highly recommend Discover 4 Yourself® Inductive Bible Studies for Kids (by Kay Arthur and others) for this age group.

Categories: Christian Resources

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 6-8

Tue, 28/02/2017 - 14:51

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children

As children’s ministry leaders and teachers, one of our goals in the classroom should be to encourage and help children grow in their proficiency in reading and understanding the Bible. To that end, the methodology and tools we use are important. For example,

1. Teach precept upon precept by introducing specific Bible skills and concepts at appropriate ages

2. Teach in a way that encourages the children to be actively involved with the text

How might you do this when teaching a classroom of 1st– or 2nd-grade children? Here are a few practical suggestions for encouraging the first point:

  • Teach the children how to find things in the Bible—book, chapter, and verse—by giving the children explicit, step-by-step directions. Teach them to memorize the books of the Bible in order, through song and games. Read about our “Clothesline Activity.”
  • Write out the reference so that the children can actually “see” what it looks like.
  • Have the students look up 1 or 2 verses (as age dictates) during the actual lesson time. Example of how to do this in a timely manner:

– Assign the book and chapter before the students gather for the lesson (e.g., in their small groups). Give them a bookmark to mark this. During the lesson, assign the verse.

– Have adults sit with children, especially those who will need more help.

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children

Here are two examples for how to encourage children to be actively involved in the actual text:

Example 1

(Write out Isaiah 44:24b on a whiteboard or large piece of paper.)

I am the LORD, who made all things,
who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself,

Ask the children simple questions that point them directly to the text:

– Who is speaking in this verse? (Point to “the LORD.”)

– Did God make just some things? What word does God use to show that He didn’t make just some things? (Point to “all.”)

– Did God have help making all things? What words does God use to show that He didn’t need any help? (“by myself”)

– What should we recognize about God from this verse? Is He weak or strong? Is He small or great?

Example 2

(Write out Psalm 103:13-14.)

As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.

Ask the children simple questions that point them directly to the text:

What do fathers show to their children? What is compassion?
According to this verse, who does God show compassion to?
Look at the last part of the verse. What do you think that it means that God knows our “frame” and remembers that we are “dust”? Is dust strong or weak?
How does understanding the love and kindness of a good father help us to understand what God is like toward His children?
Why is it a good thing that God keeps in mind that we are weak?

From personal experience, I have seen children get excited and actively engaged in using their Bibles when they are carefully and patiently guided through this process. And what a joy it is to see the children thoughtfully answering questions from the text. Give a try!

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Vision-Driven Ministry

Mon, 27/02/2017 - 13:00

Vision-Driven Ministry

When I was first learning to drive, I made a typical mistake—I was constantly fixated on the road right in front of me…as in only a few feet in front of me. Now, if you are only planning on going a few feet, this works just fine. But if you are driving down a highway this “immediately-in-front-of-me” fixation can soon steer you right off the road. You need to set your eyes on a point or object in the distance, and then adjust your steering to that point. It makes all the difference!

Often in children’s ministry, we make this same kind of mistake. We become fixated with what is right in front of us: How many new Sunday school workers will we need to recruit for the fall? What programs will be available on Wednesday nights? Do we have special speakers lined up for missions week? What will be the focus of our Christmas program? This is not to say that these are unimportant questions. They need to be addressed. But, if these are the only things steering our ministry, a few years down the road we may find that our ministry feels aimless, or has gotten off course.

That is why at Children Desiring God we like to talk about a vision-driven approach to ministry. How is it different? One way is to look “down the road,” so to speak, at your desired destination, and then fix your course. For example, Pastor David Michael suggests looking ahead 20 years and asking questions such as…

  • How can we raise a generation of men and women who have a biblical understanding of God?
  • What will we do to help them understand the Gospel and be able to apply it and live it out in their lives?
  • What steps will we take to encourage children to grow in faith as well as in their knowledge of the Scriptures?
  • What portions of the Bible do we want these children to be able to quote from memory in 2031?
  • How would we want them responding when tragedy strikes, or when they face suffering in their lives?
  • What steps can we take to make sure they are meaningfully engaged in the church and not just pew sitters 20 years from now?
  • What components of our ministry best fit our goals, and what activities are less productive and perhaps wasting precious time and resources?

See the difference? It is not that the previous questions are not addressed. Rather, they are addressed by first asking, ”What is our destination?” and then, “How can we best get there?” Listen to these inspiring words from Pastor David Michael:

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?

Wed, 22/02/2017 - 13:00

 Why and How?

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.—Psalm 145:3-4

Intergeneration classes are a wonderful way to gather families to learn together. It is not the last resort when babysitters are not available, but an opportunity for both children and adults to be teachers and both to be learners.

I think God’s intent for the generations is that we should bless one another, support one another, encourage one another and enrich each other’s lives.

Intergenerational doesn’t mean dumbing down material so that children can understand it but the adults are bored. But it also doesn’t mean teaching a normal adult class with the hope that the children present may get a tidbit.

True intergenerational teaching conscientiously takes into account that there are learners of different ages and experiences present in the classroom and seeks to teach the hearts of all of them. It’s beneficial to the adults and to the children because the uniqueness of the situation provides some opportunities for both generations to understand the material differently and to benefit from a different perspective.

A positive experience in an intergenerational class can encourage a dad who has never lead a family devotional time to launch out at home in bringing the Word to his family.—Sally Michael

Intergenerational classes work ideally for parents with children in first grade and older who can read and participate in class activities. Junior and senior high students can be included, but teachers and parents will need to be careful to ensure the material and illustrations engaging for them or provide them with extra responsibility to help lead in class. It works best for preschool and kindergarten students to remain in a separate age-specific class so parents’ focus can be on having deeper spiritual conversations with their older children rather than trying to keep the youngest ones engaged. These mixed generation learning environments can be introduced to a variety of settings such as Sunday morning or evening services, Wednesday night programs, summer Sunday school classes, family camps or small group settings.

In her seminar Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?, Sally shares these and other benefits to an intergenerational teach model:

  1. Relational: It can remove barriers between age groups crumble and provide an opportunity to be the church—a united body of believers.
  2. Cognitive: Children can think outside the box and provide different perspectives for the adults as well as ask questions that adults never think of or are reluctant to ask. This helps bring insight and understanding to the material for all ages.
  3. Conversational: Good intergeneration learning experiences can open communication between adults and children and prompt engaging spiritual conversations.
  4. Emotional: Little children can remind adults to learn with their hearts as well as with their heads.
  5. Simplicity: Adults can get caught up in fine tuning theological points and children can help remind them of the important, basic truths like Jesus died for sinners or love one another.
  6. Application and Response: Seeing the eager acceptance and concrete responses of children is a wonderful way in which adults can be challenged to respond in obedience and faith to the truth.

Listen to the full seminar by Sally to learn more about the benefits of intergenerational teaching, how to teach the intergeneration curriculum from Children Desiring God and practical tips on how to adapt your existing curriculum for an intergenerational setting.

Listen Now: Intergeneration Teaching: Why and How? http://blog.childrendesiringgod.org/wp-content/uploads/Seminar_SMichael_IntergenerationalTeaching.mp3 Download Handouts

SallyMichaelSally Michael is a co-founder of Children Desiring God, where she has a passion for developing God-centered resources for the spiritual development of children in the home and church. She is an author of curriculum, parenting resources and children’s books published by Children Desiring God and P&R Publishing. Sally and her husband David have two daughters, Amy and Kristi, and three grandchildren.

Categories: Christian Resources

Do they See Jesus as Master and Lord?

Tue, 21/02/2017 - 13:00

Do they See You as Master and Lord?

Submission to authority is one of the primary disciplines that parents must teach their children. Even in submitting to the seemingly little commands of parents, children learn important truths that will better prepare them for a fulfilling and happy life. However, the main reason we should teach our children about submission is to help them understand the necessity of submitting to Jesus and His absolute, good, wise, and loving authority. Furthermore, we must teach and model that submission to Jesus and His ways does not quash our joy—it enables our joy.

As parents and teachers, we ought to be very careful and intentional in communicating this important concept to our children and students. As we rightfully impress upon them their need for Jesus’ redeeming work—trusting in Him alone as Savior—we must not neglect to also highlight Jesus as Master and Lord. All who truly trust in Jesus are called to learn from Him, submit to Him, and follow in all His ways. This is a life-long endeavor for the Christian. It is a call to grace-dependent, Spirit-empowered discipleship.

Getting Practical—Here are a few texts to read and discuss, and questions to ask your children:

  • Jesus’ Authority—Read Matthew 28:18; Revelation 4:11; 19:16. What do these verses tell us about Jesus’ authority? Could someone say that they love and trust Jesus as their Savior, but they don’t need to actually follow and obey Him as their Master and Lord? Why wouldn’t this make sense? Read and talk about 1 John 2:3, 6. 
  • Learning from Jesus—Point out that the best teachers teach their students by not only teaching with words, but also by example. Ask: Can you think of some of the things that Jesus taught His disciples? Some of His commands? (Also, you could read a few verses from Luke 6:27-28, 35-36) In what ways did Jesus give us an example to follow, too? How did He do what He commanded? Why is this helpful for His disciples? But is it still difficult for us to follow at times? Why? Are there things in our life that make us less or more likely to want to listen and obey? Is there anything that can help us? 
  • Jesus is a Compassionate Master and Teacher—Briefly share an example of a harsh teacher or bossone who “lorded over” his students or employees by making unreasonable demands. Is this the type of Master and Lord that Jesus is? Read and talk about Matthew 11:28-29. Do you see Jesus as a kind of Master and Lord? What does this show us about who He is and what He is like? What does He also know and understand about us? Does that mean He doesn’t care about our obedience? What is a yoke? Do Jesus’ disciples still need a yoke? Why? But what kind of yoke does He give His disciples? How can this help us see the goodness of submitting to Jesushow is submission for our good? 
  • Submitting Your Will to Jesus—Read and talk about Matthew 16:24. Give an example of a command from Jesus that is often hard to submit to. Suppose your brother or sister took your new game to a friends’ house without asking you. When he or she brought the game back it was missing pieces. What might be your first reaction? What if he or she says she’s really sorry and will go back and find the pieces? Jesus says, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36). Why might it be hard to submit to this command? What does it show us about our hearts? Is submitting to Jesus optional—something to do only when it’s not too difficult or when we feel like it? When we are struggling to submit to Jesus, what might be helpful to remember about Him? 
  • Following Jesus Wherever He Leads Us—Read the story of Simon meeting Jesus from Luke 5:1-6. At the end of the story, Jesus called for Simon, James, and John to follow Him. What did they leave behind in order to follow Jesus? [everything] What does that mean? Explain that following Jesus means that you love Him most of all so that you listen, obey, and follow wherever He leads you. Does Jesus lead His disciples along the exact same circumstances? Point out that Jesus later gave Simon the name, Peter. Does anyone know what Peter did later in life as a follower of Jesus? [became the leader of the early church, suffered persecution for being a Christian, etc.] Did Jesus also give us an example of enduring great suffering? Peter followed Jesus’ example—even to his death. Can you think of other people who followed Jesus even through very hard circumstances? How can their example help us? What gave them the strength and determination to keep following Jesus?

Teach and Model Submission

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Parenting and Teaching from a Thankful Heart

Mon, 20/02/2017 - 13:00

Parenting and Teaching from a Thankful Heart

Pastor David Michael recently shared these words from C.H. Spurgeon during Children Desiring God staff devotion time. I wonder what impact it would have on our parenting and teaching ministries if we carefully reflected on Spurgeon’s remarks and questions regarding Psalm 103:2—“Forget not all his benefits.”

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe

his goodness in delivering them,
his mercy in pardoning them,
and his faithfulness in keeping his covenant with them.

But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least

as full of God,
as full of his goodness and of his truth,
as much a proof of his faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before?

Parenting and Teaching from a Thankful HeartWe do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that he wrought all his mighty acts, and showed himself strong for those in the early time, but doth not perform wonders or lay bare his arm for the saints who are now upon the earth.

Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God.

Have you had no deliverances?
Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence?
Have you walked through no fires unharmed?
Have you had no manifestations?
Have you had no choice favours?
The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, hath he never listened to you and answered your requests?
That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things,” hath he never satiated you with fatness?
Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures?
Have you never been led by the still waters?

Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old.

Let us, then, weave his mercies into a song.
Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus.
Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever.

(The “Morning” devotion from Morning and Evening for  July 9, retrieved at www.spurgeon.org)

Categories: Christian Resources

Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers

Wed, 15/02/2017 - 16:04

Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers

Have you prayed for your children today? Do you only pray for them when you are with them? How often do you pray for or with your students on Sunday morning?

“It is easy for us to set our days on cruise control and completely push the Lord out. Prayer is our only vehicle that will give us wisdom, strength and the correct words to reach the next generation.” —Kristen Gilbert

In this seminar, Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers, Kristen Gilbert discusses some of the obstacles we face that prevent us from having a fervent prayer life such as wandering minds, fear, laziness and busyness. She equips you with practical steps to fight these obstacles and encourages you to pray through specific areas of your children’s ministry as she shares testimonies of answered prayers in her church.

“When I step into my office, the first thing I do, before I open up my computer and see the list of emails, is to pray for 15 minutes. Schedule time into your day to pray.” —Kristen Gilbert

Not only is it important for you as a children’s ministry leader or parent to spend time praying for the next generation, you also have the opportunity to be a role model to your children as you teach them to pray. Kristen shares a simple way small group leaders or parents can walk children through prayer based on the ACTS prayer model—adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication.

  1. I love you, Lord. Why do we love the Lord?
  2. I am sorry. What have I done that I need to ask forgiveness for?
  3. Thank you. Thank the Lord for who He is, His forgiveness and answered prayers.
  4. Please. We have a God who wants us to come to him and ask him for things.

“If you teach children to pray, they will do it. We need to be role models of this.”—Kristen Gilbert

Listen Now http://blog.childrendesiringgod.org/wp-content/uploads/Seminar_KGilbert_PrayingForTheNextGen.mp3 Download Handouts

Kristin serves as the Director of Children’s Ministries at College Park Church in Indianapolis. Her prayer is that the next generation would passionately follow Jesus! She desires to come alongside the church body to continue to lay a foundation of truth for the next generation to build their faith upon. Kristin enjoys engaging with the children and volunteers she works with on Sunday mornings and encouraging them to fix their eyes on our One True God.

Categories: Christian Resources

Passing the Baton in the Midst of a Hostile Crowd

Tue, 14/02/2017 - 13:00

Passing the Baton in the Midst of a Hostile Crowd

Parents and ministry leaders, here is something to ponder:

Passing on the [Christian] faith has been compared to handing off a baton in a relay race. And there are many things to commend that analogy to us. There is a real gospel—the baton—to pass on. It must be passed on individually. The one with the baton has to hold it out, and the one receiving the baton has to reach back for it and close his hand around it. There is a time to pass on the baton, the exchange zone, which does not last forever. All of these are excellent pictures to help us think through this subject.

There is a problem with this illustration, however. We are not handing off the baton at a friendly track meet—rather this exchange takes place on a battlefield! We are attempting to pass on this baton of the gospel while we and our children are being shot at! And what about those observing in the stands? A few are cheering us on, but many in the stands—the world—are laughing at our child’s attempt to run the race.

(Chap Bettis, “The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ  copyright©2016, page 8)

Rather than be discouraged by this, we as parents and ministry leaders should use this as motivation to prepare our children and students to face the challenge. We must arm them with God’s Truth and point them to complete dependence on His sovereign grace. Furthermore, we should provide them with a distinctive, unwavering biblical worldview by teaching them…

  • that the Bible is absolute Truth and is totally reliable and sufficient.
  • a deep and robust understanding of God’s nature and character.
  • that biblical truth is relevant to everything in life.
  • to evaluate all things through the truth of Scripture: biblical discernment.
  • the enlightening and transforming truth of the Gospel.
  • that a biblical worldview is meant to point them to true, lasting joy.
  • to boldly proclaim God’s truth in a spirit of humility.
  • to expect opposition and to be prepared to stand firm.

On this last point, it’s important that we do the following to encourage them and “cheer them on.”

  • Point out evidence of God’s grace in their lives. Use it to encourage them.
  • Remind them of Jesus and others who have experienced ridicule and have been hated by the world.
  • Pray with and for them on a regular basis.
  • Find your children and teens some older, mature Christians to be mentors.
  • Keep them in the Word and look for devotionals and other resources that will serve to increase their confidence in God.
  • Instruct them in Christian apologetics, providing a vigorous defense of the faith—reasons and arguments for why we believe what we believe.

For a further explanation of each point and practical tips for application at various ages, download this free handout from the seminar, “Helping Children Develop a Biblical Worldview.”

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Teaching Our Children to Serve God in the “Ordinary”

Mon, 13/02/2017 - 13:00

Teaching Our Children to Serve God in the Ordinary

I grew up with a very narrow view of what it means to serve God. Life was separated into two main spheres—the spiritual and the secular. Service to God was therefore limited to using ones gifts and abilities within the church or a specific type of Christian ministry—the “spiritual realm.” Then, as I entered adulthood, there was an additional thrust, namely, that to be a faithful Christian one must do great things for God and go out and change the world for Christ. Sounds like a wonderful challenge to pass on to our children and students, doesn’t it…

Now consider this from Pastor Nick Batzig:

A “change the world” mentality often ironically serves as a catalyst for discontentment or undue guilt. The common failures and frustrations experienced in the mundane day-in and day-out aspects of life tend to leave those—who had hoped for more importance—jaded or callused as the years progress… 

Will of God Doer…The reality is that there was only one true and lasting world changer; and, He had to be mocked by men, nailed to the cross, subject to the powers of hell and fall under the wrath of God in order to bring about permanent and lasting change in the world. Whenever we are tempted to want to “think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think,” we must remember that the way up is the way down, that he who would be greatest must become least and that the way to the crown is the way of the cross. We must seek to become a “will of God doer” rather than a “world changer”—even if that means changing dirty diapers for the glory of God. 

(From, “To Be a Diaper Changer,”  www.reformation21.org)

Please read the entire article to more fully understand the context and main point. (For example, he is not calling us to set low expectations in our walk with the Lord or our desire to see the world impacted for the kingdom.)

This is an important topic to discuss with our children, especially as they grow older and begin to consider a vocation to pursue. Here are some points you could explore with your children to help them understand a biblical view of service to God.

  • We have been created in a special way—in the image and likeness of God.
  • We have been created for a special purpose—to glorify God.
  • God has given His children a variety of abilities to be used in service to Him.
  • Whatever work we do it should be done with the mindset of serving Jesus.
  • Service to God blesses us and is used by God to help others and further His kingdom.
Key Texts to Read Together

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.—Colossians 3:23-24

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-6

Possible Discussion Questions
  • All of Our Gifts and Abilities Are from God and Should Be Used in Service to God—Point out that some people brag about their gifts and abilities. Does anyone have a right to boast about an ability they have? Read and talk about 1 Corinthians 4:7b. How should knowing this shape our attitude toward the things we are good at? Because all our abilities are from God, and Jesus is Lord and Master, who deserves our service? Do you think of God “owning” your abilities? Do you tend to mainly think of ways to serve yourself and own interests? Can you think of a way you could serve God this week with an ability you have? 
  • All True Service to God is Important—Review Colossians 3:23-24. Ask: Suppose you volunteer to clean in the church kitchen for a dinner event. You do it gladly, work hard, and with a mindset of serving Jesus with your abilities. What if someone said, “That’s just kitchen help. You’re not doing anything important.” Would that be true? Recall 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. 
  • God is Good and Wise in the Abilities He Gives Us—Read Matthew 25:14-26a and ask: Did the three servants receive the same amount of money from their master? Why did he give them different amounts? [He gave to each according to their ability.] God is wise and good in the abilities He gives His children. Some people will have more or greater abilities than others, but all service to God is important. (Recall that even though the first two servants were given different amounts, they both entered into the joy of their master. We should use even the smallest abilities in service to God. And, as we grow and mature, God often gives His children more responsibilities. 
  • We Need to Recognize and Develop the Abilities God Has Given UsSuppose you want to learn to play a musical instrument. After two lessons you say, “I’m no good at this. I’m going to give up and quit!” Emphasize that, especially when you are young, your job is to try a variety of different things and work hard at them… “as unto the Lord.” You are to work heartily doing your schoolwork, chores, and music or sports practice as if you are doing it for Jesus. It could be, that over time and with prayer, guidance from the Holy Spirit, and the encouragement of others, God gives you a love and proficiency in doing something—making clear how you can use these abilities in service to Him by helping others and helping to further His kingdom. 
  • We Need God’s Power in Order to Serve Him—Ask your child or teen to recall a time when he or she worked really hard at something. Ask: Are there times that you don’t give your best effort because you are lazy or something feels beyond your strength? Review 1 Corinthians 12:4-6 and then 1 Peter 4:10-11. According to these verses, can we serve God just by our own efforts and strength? Why is it important to recognize our need and who supplies it? Do you ask God for the strength needed to serve Him? 
  • No One Can Serve Two Masters—Read and talk about Jesus’ words from Matthew 6:24. Point out you could substitute other words for “money” in this verse. What are some other things people serve? [yourself, sports, food, play time, games, electronic gadgets, etc.] In what ways to people “serve” these things—in what ways do they let these things “master” them? Is this right? Is there anything in your life that wrongly acts as a master to you and turns you away from serving God? What steps could you take this week to grow in devotion to God?

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

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