Blogroll: Children Desiring God

I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 24 posts from the blog 'Children Desiring God.'

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God Centered Resources for the Next Generation
Updated: 1 hour 27 min ago

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

From Genesis to Revelation: Disability and His Sure Promises of Help

Wed, 08/02/2017 - 13:00

 Disability and His Sure Promises of Help

When a child or adult with disabilities comes to your church, are you filled with excited anticipation or dread? Are you glad they have come, but afraid of doing or saying something wrong—which prevents you from doing anything at all?

Through over 450 references, the Bible unashamedly address God’s sovereignty over disease and disability. God equips His people to serve and be served by those who live atypical lives.

God Equips His PeopleWe live in a culture which denigrates people with disabilities, prefers that we kill them before they are born, or that we kill them when they are toward the end of their life and their usefulness. God has a different perspective about this. Those He creates in His image, who live atypical lives, are intended to be agents of change in our churches.

Disability is a spectrum we cannot understand and God has made each person unique—with or without a disability. Because of this, there is no program or one size fits all approach to disability ministry. In this seminar, John Knight casts a vision for ministering to families dealing with disability and gives you practical steps to begin: gathering a prayer team, thinking counter-culturally, knowing the specific needs of your families, training your people, being willing to make mistakes in love as you figure things out and persevering in ministry.

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

John Knight is the Director of Donor Partnerships at Desiring God in Minneapolis. He is married to Dianne and together they parent their four children. John’s son Paul lives with multiple disabilities including blindness, autism, cognitive impairments and a seizure disorder. John writes on issues of disability, the Bible and the church at  TheWorksOfGod.com

As we welcome children with disabilities into our church and classrooms, we are training students to respect that God has made certain children differently than other children. It is good, and sometimes it is hard, but we are not afraid.

Categories: Christian Resources

Teaching Means Active Engagement

Tue, 07/02/2017 - 13:00

Teaching Means Active Engagement

In college, I had to take a dreaded year of physics. I cringed at the thought of it! But much to my amazement, I ended up enjoying that year. It became one of my favorite classes. Why the change of heart? Because I had a great teacher who actively engaged us in the subject matter. He had us thinking, questioning, and seeing the relevance of physics to almost every aspect of life: Content + Teaching Style…both mattered.

I recently read a Bible lesson written for older elementary students. What was disheartening is not the content per se—it was biblically accurate and theologically sound—but the manner in which it was communicated to the students. The material was simply “presented.” The students were “talked at.” They were not encouraged in any meaningful way to engage with the text (or even open their Bibles), or with the teacher. Why is this a problem? Because, among other things…

  • It does not promote personal biblical literacy in the students—the ability to rightly read and understand the Bible. Teachers must help students in this process by asking questions of the text, interacting with student responses, and walking the students step-by-step through a proper interpretation of the text.
  • It hinders active learning—it fails to encourage students to discover, analyze, question, examine, draw conclusions, and make application of the text.
  • It “de-motivates” students to make personal application of biblical truth—heart transformation. If students are not encouraged to be actively engaged, they are more likely to feel “talked at” than to be personally interested and challenged by the content.

At Children Desiring God, our goal and desire is to develop biblically rich, doctrinally sound, God-centered, Christ-exalting materials that are designed to TEACH students. Our lessons are structured to encourage active engagement between teacher, student, and the Bible. Yes, at first it may seem a little overwhelming—especially for a new teacher. Students who are not accustomed to an interactive teaching style may be slow to respond at first. But over time both teacher and students will be pleasantly surprised by the rich benefits of this active engagement. We want to motivate our students to eagerly dive into God’s Word, with the hope and prayer that by doing so, they will come to see and delight in God Himself, through Christ.

Teaching Means Active Engagement

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Preemptive Wisdom + Drawing for a Free Devotional!

Mon, 06/02/2017 - 13:00

Preemptive Wisdom

In a recent “Ask Pastor John” post, John Piper addressed a question from a young man—a teenager— regarding his desire to be well-liked and popular while, at the same time, being concerned about being godly. Here was part of John’s response:

Preemptive WisdomI think being driven by coolness is deadly. The problem with wanting to be cool in our culture is that cool is almost always defined by the fool. So, it is almost always: Cool = Fool.

If you want to know what a fool is, read the book of Proverbs in the Bible. In fact, I think every teenager, especially boys, should read Proverbs over and over and over again, because of how clearly the Proverbs expose the stupidity of much that is considered cool…

You are a human being created in the image of God almighty, destined to live forever and ever and ever in hell or in heaven. Nothing could be more stupid than to think that your significance, your worth, your greatness, your coolness is in what people think about your outward appearance instead of what they think about your inner reality that is going to live forever and ever and ever. So, be one of those teenagers who wakes up from the lunacy of the cattle drive mentality where the whole herd of cattle is going right over the cliff because some cool bull or some pretty heifer is out there leading the way right off a cliff.

(“Can I Be Faithful to God and Popular at School?,” John Piper, ©Desiring God Foundation, www.desiringGod.org)

Yes, by all means, have your youth read and study the book of Proverbs. But I want to suggest a preemptive strike. Don’t wait until your children are teens. Help them learn to be wise (the opposite of a fool) when they are young, with the hope and prayer that they will not depart from it. Encourage them embrace to God’s timeless wisdom now—seeing it as a priceless treasure and delight so that they avoid foolishness. Lead them to see that trusting in Jesus alone and following in His ways is the way of wisdom!

God's WisdomA resource I highly recommend for families is God’s Wisdom by Sally Michael, a great devotional for families. The book has 26 short, highly engaging chapters to read aloud as a family, followed by interactive discussion questions. Each chapter ends with an activity that will further help your children’s understanding, and provide a practical “next step” for applying wisdom in their lives.

Drawing for a Free Devotional!

We are giving away two copies of God’s Wisdom! Just leave us a comment below between now and Friday, February 10, and we will draw two names to each receive a free copy of this great devotional book. We will announce the winners on Monday, February 13. This drawing is open to readers with a U.S. mailing address.

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Come Meet with Us

Wed, 01/02/2017 - 13:00

Come Meet with Us

The Children Desiring God Team is excited for some opportunities to gather and meet with you in the coming months. If you are in the area, we would encourage you to come to one of these events:

Reaching the Next Generation

Saturday, February 11  //  8:30am – 2:30pm  //  Westfield, Indiana
David and Sally Michael will be presenting their three vision-casting sessions—“Foundations for a God-Centered Children’s Ministry.” Topics include having a vision for God-centered worship, Biblical literacy and encouraging faith in the next generation. This is a free event hosted by Cornerstone Bible Church (an offering will be taken to help the church cover costs). A small bookstore with Children Desiring God resources will be open during the event.
Registration closes February 5.
Register Now!

Children’s Ministry Day

Saturday, March 11  //  8am – 12pm  //  Peru, Indiana
EastPointe church invites parents, Sunday school teachers and other children’s ministry workers to join David and Sally Michael at Children’s Ministry Day. The Michaels will be casting a vision for God-centered children’s ministry as well as providing practical helps in using Children Desiring God resources. This is a free event.
Registration closes March 5.
Register Now!

2017 Ligonier National Conference: The Next 500 Years

March 9-11 // Orlando, Florida
If you are attending the Ligonier National Conference, be sure to look for the Children Desiring God table in the exhibit area. We look forward to meeting you, answering your curriculum questions and showing you our newest resources and curriculum samples.
Registration for this event is full.

Our Offices

If you are in the Minneapolis area, we would love to have you stop by our offices to say hello. We have samples of our full curriculum sequence and all of our resources for you to browse and you can meet with our customer service team in person to get all of your questions answered. Just give us a call at 877.400.1414 to schedule a time to visit.

If you are unable to see us in person at one of these events, be sure to watch the blog for future event updates for later this year. As always, please give us a call at 877.400.1414 or email us at info@childrendesiringGod.org if you ever have questions about our vision, curriculum, resources or how we can better support your ministry.

Categories: Christian Resources

Not Merely a Death on Behalf of Others

Tue, 31/01/2017 - 13:00

Not Merely a Death on Behalf of Others

Here are a few questions to ask your children and students (elementary age and older):

Why did Jesus die on the cross?

Why would it be wrong for God to simply pretend that your sin is no big deal?

How does Jesus’ death on the cross show that God is right in punishing sin and forgiving sinners?

What did Jesus experience on the cross? Why is this important to know?

Why is it also important that Jesus gives His people His own perfect righteousness?

If you were to appear in a courtroom today in which God was sitting as the judge, what verdict do you think He would pronounce over you, “Guilty” or “Not guilty”? Why?

Not Merely a Death on Behalf of OthersWhy are these questions important to ask? Because our children and students need to see and understand the uniqueness of Jesus’ death on the cross. They need to be taught the meaning of justification. No justification = no Gospel. While it may be age-appropriate for a preschooler to simply learn and recite that “Jesus died on the cross to save sinners,” as our children age and mature they need reasons that provide a biblical foundation for understanding the necessity of Jesus’ death and what it accomplished. If students hear over and over again simply that “Jesus died for sinners,” will that encourage them to be more or less amazed by His death? Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying here—that simple statement is glorious beyond measure. But…

…consider for a moment: Throughout history, we can find thousands of heroic examples of men and women who willingly died for the sake of others. Some were Christians, but many were not. Even now we hear the heart-breaking stories of soldiers, firefighters, and police officers who die in the line of duty. Students know this, and hopefully appreciate these great sacrifices…but one death in history stands apart from all others—the death of God’s holy and righteous Son, Jesus. Why? It stands apart for many reasons, the main one being that Jesus’ death alone brings about the justification of God’s sinful people. Therefore, our students must be taught this essential doctrine. Salvation itself hangs on the truth and meaning of justification.

Therefore, look carefully at the materials you and your church are using. Do they truthfully, clearly, and compellingly communicate the deep significance of what actually happened when Jesus died on the cross, and why it matters to each and every one of us today? For example, do these materials strive to communicate the following truths?

  • All people are guilty before God and deserve God’s just punishment.
  • Jesus died as an atoning sacrifice for sin in order to satisfy the justice of God.
  • On the cross, Jesus received God’s wrath so that the just punishment of sin is completely satisfied.
  • God will never pour out His wrath on His chosen people who are trusting in Jesus, because He has already poured it out on Jesus.
  • Justification is a legal act whereby God forgives sin, gives His people Jesus’ righteousness, and declares them righteous—“Not guilty”—so that they can now inherit eternal life.
  • Justification is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus alone.

God's GospelParents, here is short excerpt from my book, God’s Gospel, demonstrating how justification can be explained in biblically yet child-friendly language to elementary age children.

Also, here is a free sample lesson from our curriculum Jesus, What a Savior!, demonstrating how justification can be explained in a way that even a 5- and 6-year-old can grasp.

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

“Repent and Believe”—A Call for Clarity

Mon, 30/01/2017 - 13:00

Repent and Believe - A Call for Clarity

We fill words with meaning. The more important the word and what it relates to, the more essential to “fill it” and interpret it with the intended meaning. When it comes to our children’s and students’ response to the Gospel, two words require careful attention: repent and believe. We must be very intentional and careful to communicate these terms in a way that doesn’t diminish the intended meaning. These words convey a serious weightiness—calling for and resulting in a complete transformation of a person’s mind, heart, and will. True saving repentance and belief—conversion, as it is commonly called—is much more than an acknowledgment of true facts about the Person and work of Jesus. Furthermore, while rightly emphasizing what it means to “believe in Jesus,” repentance is often minimized when instructing children. Pastor Art Murphy has some very wise advice for us as we seek to discern a child’s profession of faith:

Repent_QuoteDoes the child demonstrate a personal need or desire to repent of his sin? Is the child ashamed of the sin in his life? Knowing what sin is, is not the same as being ashamed of sin. If a child is not repentant but goes ahead and makes a decision to become a Christian, then his decision is premature and incomplete. Letting a child think he can become a Christian without repentance gives him false assurance. As a result, he may never repent and therefore never completely finish becoming a Christian.

Loving Jesus is an important part of becoming a Christian, but that is not enough. If a child is led to think that he can be a Christian without repentance, he does not fully understand the need for a Savior. He may love Jesus but not feel the need for Him in his life. He may live his life thinking that everything is OK when it is not.

(From, The Faith of a Child: A Step-by-Step Guide to Salvation for Your Child, copyright©2000, pages 75-76)

At Children Desiring God, we have been concerned about this for some time. One thing we have done to address this issue is to be very careful and intentional in our curriculum by repeatedly incorporating the following concepts in the lessons:

  • Highlight the love of God within the context of His holiness.
  • Stress God’s rightful rule over us, to which we are called to submit.
  • Present the problem and extent of sin in a very serious and weighty manner.
  • Emphasize the Person and work of Jesus and what it means that He is both Lord and Savior.
  • Give an age-appropriate, yet deep and rich presentation of the Gospel—one that clearly explains the meaning and significance of justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.
  • Content that states the clear demand and explanation of biblical repentance and belief.
  • Instructions for teachers to use non-inclusive language when indicated so that students don’t “assume” faith, emphasizing the need for them to personally respond in true repentance and belief.
  • Provide thoughtful Small Group Application discussion questions that go beyond merely recalling lesson facts, but serve to aim toward the students’ hearts.
  • Include helpful supplementary material for teachers and small group leaders in the curricula Introduction and Appendix on understanding the Gospel presentation and sharing the Gospel with children.

Helping Children to Understand the GospelBut we also believe that the Gospel call to repent and believe should be communicated first, and foremost, by parents to their children. Our resource, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel, is a tool for parents to use in the home. In it, much is said regarding repentance and belief, and how a parent might communicate these truths in an age-appropriate manner, and tips for helping parents discern their child’s response to the Gospel.

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

Wed, 25/01/2017 - 13:00

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.

With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.

Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph

Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is.

While teaching, be sure children know the story is coming from the Bible. Keep your Bible open in front of you while teaching and read verses directly from your Bible where appropriate as you tell the story.

Before class, it is helpful to stack the felt pieces in the order that you will use them and set up your background. Start out simply by just putting key figures on the board, or moving a figure from one spot to another to demonstrate movement. The short attention span of a preschooler is better filled with God-themes than a technically precise depiction of everything that happened in a story.

The manual that comes with the Betty Lukens flannelgraph set is helpful in finding and choosing the felt pieces that fit particular Bible stories. Detailed information about preparing to teach the preschool lessons is included in He Established a Testimony and He Has Spoken by His Son. We do no recommend teaching the Bible stories from the Betty Lukens manual.

Flannel board and felt pieces can be very versatile and customizable to the story. Betty Lukens pieces are available in two sizes. The 6-inch size is easier to use and works well with small groups of children. But, if you have a large group of children, the 12-inch size is easier for the children to see. Having an interior and exterior board is very helpful, but you can substitute the dark, plain board (intended for night sky scenes) with a dark flannel cloth placed over another board.

Betty Lukens offers a filing system for the pieces that is well worth the price. If you are new to using the flannelgraph, take the time to browse the filing system so you have in mind the range of pieces available. The felt pieces will arrive printed on sheets that need to be cut out. Recruit some help to cut out all the pieces and file them before the year starts; your weekly preparation time is better spent studying the Word than cutting out pieces. The Deluxe Bible Set is best to accompany the full, chronological Bible overview found in the Children Desiring God preschool curriculum.

To learn more about teaching preschoolers and see an example lesson being taught with using the flannelgraph, we recommend watching the Preschool Lesson Preparation and Preschool Teaching and Small Group Leading seminars.

Alternative Preschool Visual Options

For some situations, flannelgraph may not be practical or within your budget. Here are some other options to use when teaching the preschool lessons:

  • New Tribes Missions: They provide a variety of Bible pictures, maps and charts and coloring pictures to supplement your teaching. We recommend considering their chronological Bible picture sets which are available in a variety of print options or electronically.  
  • Free Bible Images: These downloadable photos and illustrations that you can print out are a free starting point, but they will not cover all of the stories in the preschool lessons.

 

Categories: Christian Resources

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 2

Tue, 24/01/2017 - 13:00

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 2

Somewhere along the way in our parenting, one or more of our children will likely express the above sentiment on any given Sunday. Yesterday’s post presented five suggestions for addressing the issue. Today I would like to present five more. Again, keep in mind that how you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

6. Consider if any of your words and attitudes toward the church have contributed to your child’s perception.

Our words and attitudes make a great impression on our children. What we say aloud and the tone in which we say it often turns up in our children. If I, as a parent, establish a pattern of verbally criticizing the sermon, or the singing or other things related to the church, should I be surprised if my children don’t want to go to church? Ouch! I must ask, “Is my child’s negative attitude toward church in any way sparked and fueled by me?” If so, I need to confess this before the Lord, repent, ask His forgiveness, and commit to guard my heart and words in the future. I should also humbly confess to my children any sinful attitudes or words they have observed in me.

On a similar note, more times than I care to remember, by the time our family got in the car to go to church, I was barely on speaking terms with them! A real Sunday morning meltdown. Too little sleep the night before. Couldn’t find my Bible. Arguing with my husband during breakfast, etc. All things that started in me and came to be expressed through me. This can sour Sunday morning for the whole family. If that becomes the pattern, our children may come to associate going to church with mom or dad’s “bad attitude.” 

7. If the classroom experience is proving unworkable for your child, look for alternate ministry and learning opportunities during that time.

We had a child who really didn’t want to go to Sunday school at one time. After talking to him to get at the heart of the issue, we went and observed the class and noted some serious, legitimate concerns. We talked with teachers/leaders in order to communicate our concerns, and also to get their perspective. After careful consideration, we decided that this particular classroom situation could not be resolved in a manner that was beneficial to our child. So we decided to let him opt out of that class. However, we made clear that simply “hanging out” during the Sunday school hour was not an option. He must invest that time within another class or ministry of the church. We helped him find a suitable option and he thrived.

8. Understand that your child’s own heart condition may be at the root or a great contributor to the problem.

This is one that is hard for every parent to hear, but we must hear it: Our child may hate church because he or she is not a believer and is dull or even hostile toward spiritual things. No amount of denial, no amount of wishful thinking, no number of excuses can serve to cover-up this heart-breaking reality. As parents, our first instinct may be to demand change in the program: Make the classroom more fun. Make the youth group more entertaining and “relational.” Have less serious Bible teaching to allow more time to hang out. Before pondering any of these seemingly helpful solutions, we need to understand that changes such as these are not going to ultimately deal with our child’s heart issue. Furthermore, making Sunday school more fun or entertaining often serves in encouraging an unbeliever to happily continue along the path of unbelief as he or she feels comfortable within this more casual environment.

9. Pray, pray, pray!

Never underestimate or underutilize the power of prayer. Pray with your child and for your child.

  • On Saturday night, pray with your child about his or her Sunday morning experience. Dads: consider praying a “Saturday Night Special” blessing for your child using the booklet and blessing cards titled, A Father’s Guide to Blessing His Children.
  • Before your child enters the Sunday school room, pray with him or her.
  • Commit yourself to praying for your child’s heart toward the Lord.
  • Commit yourself to praying for your child’s teachers and the other students in the class.
  • Pray that the church as a whole—with all its members and ministries—will grow in displaying a beautifully attractive picture of what it means to love, honor, and cherish Christ.

10. God is sovereign, so never, never, never give up!

When a parent first hears the words, “I hate church. I don’t want to go!” it can be shocking and heart-breaking. Also, for utterly selfish reasons, it can be really frustrating for the parent. One more hassle to deal with. Out of fear or inconvenience it is tempting to throw in the towel and give up, “Fine, we just won’t go then.” Please, don’t take this option. Consider…

  • You and your children need the church. Your children, whether believers or unbelievers, need this means of God’s grace in their lives if they are to flourish.
  • Often, and by God’s grace, this negative attitude toward the church lasts for a season of time (even if it feels like forever!). Weather the storm, keep praying for and encouraging your child to weather the storm, too.
  • Without realizing it, your child may be absorbing more spiritual benefits from the worship service and the classroom than he or she, or you are aware. Seeds of faith are being planted, unseen to the human eye.
  • God is ultimately sovereign over your child’s heart.

Here is a final, encouraging word from a recent article by Nancy Guthrie:

…anyone who’s been a parent for long knows parenting requires a lot more than simply following the right steps to success. To raise a child toward godliness, we need much more than the good advice parenting experts have to offer. We need what only the Scriptures have to offer.

We need the commands and expectations of Scripture to keep us from complacency, and the grace and mercy of Scripture to save us from guilt. We need Scripture to puncture the pride that rises up in us when our child is doing well and we’re tempted to take the credit. And we need Scripture to save us from the despair that threatens to sink us when our child is floundering and we’re tempted to take all the blame.

While we have influence and responsibility, we don’t have control over our child. We can teach our child the Scriptures, but we can’t be the Holy Spirit in our child’s life. We can confront sinful patterns that need to change, but we can’t generate spiritual life that leads to lasting change. Only the Spirit can do that.

What we can do is pray for and parent our child the best we know how. We can keep trusting God to do what we cannot

(“Divine Words for Desperate Parents,” www.thegospelcoalition.org)

Categories: Christian Resources

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 1

Mon, 23/01/2017 - 13:00

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 1

Sadly, I’ve heard this statement from more than a few parents over the years. Some even say, “My child hates to go to church.” It can turn Sunday mornings into a miserable experience for parents and children alike. I have had some desperate, frazzled parents arrive at the classroom with a young child who is literally kicking and screaming. What’s a parent to do? Here are five general suggestions that may be helpful. How you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

  1. Set aside time alone with your child to discuss his or her negative attitude toward church.

Ask specific questions that aim for the heart of the matter. This may take some time. Gently ask probing questions: Did something specific happen in class? What about the service don’t you like? What would you want changed? Sometimes children and youth are embarrassed to express hidden fears and anxieties. “I hate going” may be, in reality, “I don’t want to have to read aloud in class.” Or, “None of the other kids talk to me.” On the other hand, it could be that the child is expressing a more serious spiritual rebellion. Listen to your child. Know and clarify the real issues before responding and taking action. Acknowledge true feelings, but help your child to reflect on his or her feelings in light of God’s Word. Our feelings and emotions need to come under the authority of Scripture. As parents, we need to be careful in helping our children see this. We must also help them recognize unrealistic expectations. 

  1. Communicate the “non-negotiables” lovingly, yet firmly.

From the time my children were very young they learned that the car wouldn’t go unless everyone had their seatbelts on. It was a non-negotiable rule whether they were 5 years old or 15 years old. Parents need to communicate a similar mindset when it comes to going to the corporate worship service—and, in most cases, Sunday school. (I’ll talk about exceptions to this last one in Part 2 tomorrow.) “You may not like going to church or sitting through the service, but we are your parents and we love you. God loves you, too, and has given us the authority, privilege, and responsibility to instruct you in His ways. One of the important ways we do this is by gathering together on the Lord’s Day to worship with other Christians and sit under the preaching of the Word. We are going to do this as a family—that means you, too.”

Please parents, take the lead in this and don’t relinquish your God-ordained authority! Sadly, I know of families who left wonderful, vibrant, God-exalting churches simply because their children expressed unhappiness with a particular aspect of Sunday school or youth ministry. Yes, there are times when parents may determine that a change in church is necessary, but a child’s dissatisfaction with secondary issues should not be a main consideration.

  1. Carefully examine your child’s expressed thoughts and feelings and measure these against other reliable perspectives when applicable.

I don’t know about your children, but there were times that my children overacted to a situation, exaggerated or embellished a story, or simply related to me a limited perspective—leaving out some important facts or nuances! All that to say: don’t assume your child has the best perspective in any given situation. “I hate Sunday school because the teacher is SO boring!” Why not sit in and observe a lesson. Maybe the teacher is great but your child is not interested in spiritual things. Maybe the teacher is a little boring…that is a teachable moment, too. What if your child told you that he or she was bored in math class? How might you respond? Just because something is presented in a boring manner, that doesn’t mean your child cannot benefit from what is being taught, or grow in the discipline required in being attentive even when it is hard to do. Your child can also learn to be thankful and supportive of a teacher who is graciously serving the class. 

  1. Address legitimate concerns with the appropriate teachers and leaders.

In my experience, many children and students needlessly experience Sunday morning anxiety due to a simple lack of communication. A classroom incident was not dealt with because a teacher didn’t realize what happened, or responded wrongly. Perhaps a student had a special need that was not communicated to his or her small group leader. Sometimes a face-to-face meeting between parents, student, and teacher can resolve these issues. In regard to the corporate worship service, this can be a little more difficult. However, it may still be appropriate for parents—or even a group of parents—to ask to meet with a pastor, elder, and/or worship leader and humbly suggest ways that children could be made to feel more welcomed in the worship service. Small things, such as the pastor intentionally addressing children and youth at one point in the sermon can be helpful. Allowing children and youth to serve as ushers or to hand out bulletins may help them feel included and valued.

  1. Look for ways to practically help and encourage your child.

A little creative thinking and planning can go a long way.

  • For example, if the issue is that a child is having a hard time sitting through a long worship service, consider a special “Sunday bag” with a Bible, colored pencils, crayons, and even a My Church Notebook to use.
  • Help minimize Sunday morning anxiety by having your children pick out clothing Saturday night. Make sure your child has gathered and laid out everything he or she will need. Sometimes it not so much that a child hates going to church as it is the stress of the frantic Sunday morning process of getting out the door.
  • If your church posts the “Order of Service” online, read it with your children so they will know what to expect.
  • If a child is having a particularly difficult time, offer some incentive, such as a small reward. This can be especially helpful for dealing with a teenager. However, I would suggest that the incentive be something that is “relational” in nature—going out for a special time away with dad or mom.
  • Offer to visit and sit in on the classroom if this would be helpful.

Check in tomorrow for Part 2, which will include suggestions 6-10.

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Encouraging Children to Memorize Scripture

Wed, 18/01/2017 - 13:00

Encouraging Children to Memorize Scripture

Scripture memory should be valued because of the blessing of putting God’s Word into your mind. However, a few incentives along the way can encourage those who have never tried Bible memory, motivate those who need help persevering in memorization and build community through shared celebrations. This is especially true for children and youth. Incentives need not be expensive and can be seen as celebrations.

Here are some recommendations for incentives for children and youth that can be given by churches or parents:

  • Award toddlers through kindergarteners (ages 2-6) a Fighter Verses Tote Bag. This blue bag features Proverbs 18:10 and a picture of a strong tower. Encourage children to memorize five verses to earn their bag. For every five verses (or more for older children) after that, award the child a gem or button star which can be sewed or glued onto the bag.
  • Take a Swordbearer Picture with a knight. When a child of any age memorizes and recites 100 verses, take his picture and post it on a bulletin board with the other sword bearers. If you have a metal knight as your Scripture memory program, that is the perfect backdrop. If not, you can make a lifesize poster of a knight, paint a wooden knight cutout or write out Ephesians 6 on a background.
  • Help your child plan a special celebration. Allow him or her to choose a favorite meal to have for dinner, invite a friend to play, have a sleepover, play a favorite game with the family or plan a family outing to a museum or nature preserve.
  • Give your child a gift to help him or her grow spiritually. Consider giving a book (biography of a Christian, missionary story, devotional), a print or painting of their favorite verse, a worship CD, tickets to a worship concert, a Fighter Verses Journal to record reflections on the word or a Fighter Verses Coloring Book.
  • Set a higher goal for rewarding youth with bigger incentives. For example, at 50 verses, let the student select a Christian music CD of their choice out of a collection approved by your staff. At 100 verses, award the student with a pocket-size Bible. At 150 verses, award the student with a pizza party (you may want to wait for a number of students to reach this level before giving the party).
  • Plan church events for families several times throughout the year to celebrate Bible memory. These events should be occasions for all families to celebrate the joy of Bible memory, rejoicing in God’s faithfulness and goodness. It should also be an opportunity to be encouraged and learn from the way He has worked in the lives of other people. Consider planning a pizza party, family game night or picnic in a park.

As you consider different incentive options, we recommend reading this Godward Recognition for Bible Memory to ensure you are fueling God-honoring thanksgiving rather than self-centered pride.

Download these Memory Verse Charts to help you track verses your children have memorized.

Fighter Verses Knights

For many years, churches have used the Fighter Verses Knights from Children Desiring God as incentives to encourage children to hide God’s Word in their hearts. Unfortunately, the Fighter Verses Knights have been discontinued and are no longer available.

We are sorry for any disappointment or inconvenience this may cause you and your church. We recommend using the list above to help you brainstorm a new incentive or tradition your church or family can use to encourage Bible memory. If you are interested in a replacement that is more similar to the knights, you might want to check out these options:

May the Lord bless everyone who treasures His Word up in their heart!

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Encouraging Active Minds in the “Knowing” Process

Tue, 17/01/2017 - 13:00

Encouraging Active Minds in the Learning Process

I am fully convinced that one of the great challenges we have before us in teaching the next generation to know, honor, and treasure Christ comes in regards to the “know” part. While humbling acknowledging that only God can bring about genuine saving faith, we as parents and teachers, have a sacred responsibility to provide our children and students with the essential knowledge they need to understand the Bible and the message of the Gospel. After all, you cannot honor and treasure that which you do not know. Furthermore, that knowledge must go beyond a simple “rote” memorization of facts. The Christian walk requires the mind to interact with the Bible. Consider this statement by Dr. Albert Mohler:

Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection.

(“The Glory of God in the Life of the Mind,” at albertmohler.com )

This statement reflects a serious commitment to a rigorous training of the mind. Helping our children and students really learn how to think, and not merely absorb information. Here are a few practical ways that you and your church can encourage this type of mind engagement. (Note: Children Desiring God curricula is written with all the following incorporated into our lessons.

1. Choose curricula that fosters active learning.

  • Look for both solid content and a teaching style that engages the mind.

2. Make sure your lesson has a logical order and structure.

  • Children and youth will be more engaged if they see a logical progression in the subject matter. The subject matter is easier to recall and understand.
  • A logical flow helps students actively learn by encouraging organized thought patterns. This becomes increasing important as our students examine more and more complex texts and topics.

3. Understand the cognitive abilities of the age group you are teaching, and use age-appropriate teaching methods and language.

  • Make an intentional, concentrated effort to restore, train, and stretch our students’ ability to pay attention.

Consider the following from Garry Williams of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals:

Meditation is a divinely commanded duty and delight. We are commanded not to flit around. But, we may wonder, if people’s brains are trained out of sustained attention, won’t doing it put them off? I think we have no choice. We have to be teachers not only of the content of revelation, but also of its prescribed form.

(“The World in the Church: A Distracted World, a Distracted Church?,”www.reformation21.org)

4. Capture their attention with meaningful “hooks” in order to ignite their minds and direct their thoughts toward learning biblical truth.

5. Use a question-and-answer format that encourages students to observe, ponder, analyze, discover, evaluate, imagine, summarize, organize, and arrive at correct conclusions and appropriate applications—all while interacting with the actual text of the Bible.

  • Start with simple questions and move to more complex ones that then also become more personally challenging.

6. Incorporate visuals, charts, illustrations, and real-life scenarios that help the mind process and understand biblical concepts.

  • These tools encourage active minds. They use concrete concepts to spur more abstract thinking.
  • They help the mind to look at the biblical text, observe it carefully, discover its meaning, and make meaningful applications.

7. Use” heart” (emotional) response as a means to engage the mind.

8. Incorporate competition and challenge as a mental motivator.

9. Restate questions in a different way—use opposites, analogies, exaggerations, etc. to spur thinking and encourage responses.

10. Encourage honest student feedback and use it to help them reason and respond biblically.

 

Please note: Teaching in this manner is HARD WORK for both student and teacher. It goes against the flow of many popular resources designed for children’s and youth ministry. Sunday school may almost come have a “school” feel to it, and not just a fun place to hang out on Sunday’s with friends. But the stakes are huge! Consider this quote from John Piper:

There is an odd notion that, if we use our minds to grow in our knowledge of God, mystery will diminish, and with it a sense of wonder and reverence. I call this notion odd for two reasons. One is that, no matter how many millions of ages I use my mind to know more and more of God’s majesty, his glories will never be in danger of being exhausted. What is not yet known of God by finite creatures will always be limitless. You honor this truth more by shameless growth in the knowledge of God.

 And the second reason I find the notion odd that thinking about God and knowing more and more of God jeopardizes our worship of God, is that without knowing him we can’t worship in a way that honors him. God is not honored when people get excited about how little they know of him.

(John Piper, “The Life of the Mind and the Love of God,” www.desiringGod.org)

For more information on this topic, you can download this handout from my seminar “Engaging Active Minds in the Learning Process.”

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Helping Our Children When Church Life Gets Messy

Mon, 16/01/2017 - 13:00

Helping Children When Church Life Gets Messy

I love the church, and I am so blessed that my family has had the great privilege of living in community with hundreds of godly men and women over the years. In regards to my children, the local church loved, equipped, encouraged, and exhorted them in their walk with the Lord. They have received a wonderful spiritual legacy, as countless pastors, leaders, teachers, and members have exemplified a life of faith—displaying what it means to love, trust, and walk in obedience to Christ.

But we must also be prepared to help our children when church life gets “messy.” For example, suppose a professing Christian you have highly respected for years leaves the church and abandons the faith. Or maybe your church is in the midst of a conflict between members, evidenced by public gossip and slander. Or a much-loved couple teaching in your children’s in Sunday school announces they are separating. These kinds of situations can make an impression on our children’s hearts and minds…and sometimes that impression can seriously taint their understanding of the church, the Christian faith, and God. Therefore, parents and teachers need to be prepared to carefully guide our children in such a way that they will not be shaken by these events.

Helping Children When Church Life Gets MessyIn his book, The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ Pastor Chap Bettis writes a helpful section on helping children handle hypocrisy and sin within the church. Here is a quick summary of his main points:

  • We can start by reminding children that Jesus predicted hypocrisy and worldliness in his church.
  • We can agree with our children that these things are wrong.
  • We can teach about the power of indwelling sin and the final judgment to sort everything out.
  • We can teach them that this sin reminds us of the great Savior we have.
  • We can teach them to forgive.

Please get the book and carefully read Pastor Bettis’ explanation of each point—the above summary does not do justice to this important topic he has covered! He concludes with this important reminder:

Community, with all its problems, is God’s gift to us. The positive examples provide balancing input. The not-so-positive examples provide teaching opportunities. The church is Jesus’ bride and the pillar and foundation of truth. With all her flaws, the church is dear to Christ and should be dear to any parents who want their child to follow the Lord as an adult.

(copyright©2016, pages 60-61)

Categories: Christian Resources

Strategies for Church-Wide Bible Memorization

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 16:16

churchwidestrategies_header

Here at Children Desiring God, we have been excited to see so many churches start memorizing Fighter Verses together as a church this month. It is easy to generate excitement for Bible memory when you are just starting the program or at the beginning of a new year. However, you will want to think of ways to keep Bible memory as an important priority throughout the year.

There are many tangible ways that the pastors and elders can lead the congregation in the desire and practice of Bible memory and ways the church can motivate members throughout the year:

Sunday Morning
  • During the Sunday morning announcements, ask for a volunteer to recite the weekly memory verse. If no one volunteers, ask another pastor or elder to try to recite the verse.
  • Pray the Fighter Verse during the worship service. This could either be prayed as a general request for the congregation, or incorporated into a specific prayer request for an individual or event.
  • Sing it during the worship service. The Fighter Verses have been set to music to make memorizing them easier. Incorporate these songs into your morning worship, both as a way to memorize and as a way to review. Learn more about Fighter Verses Songs.
  • If you have time in your service, have a pastor or elder introduce the verse for the coming week and spend a few minutes leading a short devotions time, explaining the verse or suggesting ways the verse can be applied.
  • Recite Bible passages from memory to the congregation during worship, prayer or the sermon to provide an example to the congregation of Bible memory.
  • Preach a sermon specifically on Bible memory at the start of the year or as a mid-year refresh to encourage people to keep memorizing.
Communicate It
  • Blog about it. Share testimonies about the how Bible memorization has helped people within the church, provide encouragement to persevere in memorizing, provide study or application tips for the verses or share tips on how to better memorize or review verses. Check the Memory Aids section on FighterVerses.com for ideas to get you started.
  • Share it. Post Fighter Verses on your church social media pages as a midweek encouragement. Follow Children Desiring God on Facebook or Instagram for the weekly Fighter Verses picture (feel free to share with your followers).
  • Post it. Include the current Fighter Verse on your church website each week.
  • Print it. Include the Fighter Verse for the week in the church bulletin or newsletter to remind people to memorize and keep everyone on the same schedule.
  • Listen. Set up a way for church members to share encouraging stories and testimonies about how God has been at work in the lives of his people through Bible memory.
Partner Together
  • Small groups are a perfect place to church members to study the verse together, apply it to their lives and provide accountability in memorizing. Small groups may want to consider going through The Fighter Verses Study together.
  • Ask Sunday school teachers to encourage students to memorize Scripture. Consider having the church set up incentives to reward children for memorizing verses.
  • Hold a kick-off event at the beginning of your Bible memory program or a mid-year refresh to get people excited about and equip them for Bible memorization. Ask for volunteers to share testimonies of how God has used Bible memory in their lives.
  • When applicable, use Fighter Verses as the text for the Sunday morning sermon, or the Wednesday evening teaching. This will not only help people understand the verse better, but also why it is important to memorize.

Being able to memorize and apply Scripture to our lives is no small accomplishment. Only God can give us the grace to long for His Word, hide it is our hearts, and use it in our lives. May God bless your church as you work together to memorize Scripture and fight the fight of faith.

Categories: Christian Resources

Enhancing Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Tue, 10/01/2017 - 13:00

Enhancing Your Child's Classroom Experience

Over the years of teaching Sunday school, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous comments and even some complaints from parents about their child’s classroom experience. Some of the complaints were very legitimate concerns identified by the parents that resulted in positive changes in the classroom. Others issues needed to be addressed primarily by the parents as they worked with their child on specific areas of their behavior. In my experience, one of the best ways to enhance the classroom experience for the children is to proactively clarify and understand expectations for teachers and classroom leaders, parents, and children.

For example, here are a few basic expectations for teachers and classroom leaders:

  • Provide a safe, welcoming, structured, age-appropriate environment for the students.
  • Provide well-prepared, theologically sound, faith-nurturing Bible lessons that are presented in an age-appropriate, interesting, and God-honoring manner.
  • Design a class structure that is attentive to the needs of the children while emphasizing and maximizing spiritual instruction.
  • Provide parents with written communication outlining class procedures and expectations, behavioral guidelines, contact information, curriculum notes, and other relevant information.
  • Extend to parents an open invitation to sit in and observe the classroom when so desired.
  • Recognize and affirm that parents bear the primary responsibility for nurturing their child’s faith. Teachers and other leaders will not seek to usurp that role.
  • Be open to making changes when necessary for the benefit of the students.
  • Speak directly to the parents when an issues arises with their child. Seek solutions that properly weigh the needs of the larger class and the specific child.

And here are a few expectations for parents:

  • Carefully communicate to your child his or her responsibilities when in the classroom and proper behavioral guidelines.
  • Pray for your child’s class.
  • Have your child prepared for class. This includes being on time, having him or her fed, making sure your child has used the bathroom, having the proper Bible, etc.
  • Show appropriate gratitude for the men and women who volunteer to minister to your child. Understanding that Sunday school is not a “right” but a gracious “privilege” for your child to enjoy.
  • Help your child understand the meaning and importance what is being taught in the classroom. If you take a deep interest in what is being taught, your children are more likely to take a deep interest, too (Using the CDG GIFT pages for each of our curricula lessons is a great tool to do this.)
  • Encourage your child to complete any assignments, memory work, and other action steps.
  • When your child expresses a concern (“I’m bored.” “The kids pick on me.” etc.) first speak to the teacher or small group leader. Get their perspective. Also consider sitting in and observing the class.
  • Understand the needs of the larger class, as well as the needs of your child. Don’t insist on unrealistic demands.
  • Pick your child up on time.

Although this is not an exhaustive list, in my experience these all serve to proactively address areas that commonly may lead to a direct, negative impact on a student’s classroom experience. By working together—parents and classroom volunteers—can help every student better love and enjoy his or her time in Sunday school.

Categories: Christian Resources

What’s Your Family’s Favorite Day of the Week?

Mon, 09/01/2017 - 13:00

What's Your Family's Favorite Day of the Week?

I read this short article, “The Best Day of the Week…for Your Kids” by Nick Kennicott and was deeply convicted. Oh, to have the opportunity to turn back the clock and do things differently with my own children! Not that we didn’t, for the most part, enjoy Sundays as a family, but I wish we had been more intentional in our approach. Here is how Kennicott begins his article:

Several years ago, I was leading a seminar on family worship at a conference and a man told me, “As a child, I always dreaded Sundays. My parents made it miserable.” I was sad to hear about his experience and the only thing I could think to say was, “Well, then they were obviously doing something wrong!” By way of contrast, Joel Beeke once explained that he woke his children up every Sunday and say, “It’s time to get up. Today is the best day of the week!” I hope the accusations leveled against Christians who have the highest possible view of the Lord’s Day—namely, that we just sit around on the Lord’s Day making sure we and our children do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (Colossians 2:21)—aren’t true! Jesus reminds us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). So, if we’re to use it rightly and call the Sabbath a delight (Isaiah 58:13), we need to think about how we can cultivate that delight instead of dread in our children’s (and our own) hearts on the Lord’s Day.

How to Help Children Delight in the Lord's DayHe then describes eight ways we can help our children delight in the Lord’s Day:

  1. Prioritize corporate worship.
  2. Fellowship with other families.
  3. Have a Sunday feast.
  4. Discuss Sunday School and sermon lessons.
  5. Ask about their soul, and share how you’re praying for them.
  6. Talk about God’s blessings and express thankfulness.
  7. Rest.
  8. Play.

He then ends the article with these words:

Don’t let the Lord’s Day be drudgery for your family. Enjoy it! Help your children view it as God intends it to be viewed, namely, as the best day of the week. It may take some planning, but it’s worth the effort. As your children get older, they will thank you.

You can read the entire article here.

 

Categories: Christian Resources

Now Available: New Fighter Verses Songs

Wed, 04/01/2017 - 13:00

 Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2

The Fighter Verses Songs are a wonderful tool to incorporate more Scripture into your day and help you memorize and remember verses more quickly. The Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2 album includes word-for-word Bible passages (English Standard Version) set to music to help believers fight the fight of faith.

This CD features 34 songs (over an hour of music) from important and beloved Bible passages from 20 books of the Bible. The songs were creatively written and recorded to make Scripture memorization easy and fun. Musical styles include folk, a cappella, jazz, pop, classical and family songs. Tunes are easy to learn, fun for kids and enjoyable to listen to on repeat.

 Set 2 Verses

The songs include passages such as John 3:16-17, Romans 3:23-24 (For All Have Sinned), along with all of Psalm 91 (He Who Dwells In the Shelter) and Psalm 103 (Bless the Lord, O My Soul). The CD begins with “The Word of our God will stand forever!” (Isaiah 40:8) and ends with “Worthy is the Lamb!” (Revelation 5:12-13). Your children will memorize scripture without even trying–and so will you!

Isaiah 40:8

http://blog.childrendesiringgod.org/wp-content/uploads/Isaiah408.mp3

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

http://blog.childrendesiringgod.org/wp-content/uploads/2Corinthians41718.mp3

 

The Fighter Verses Songs, Set 2 CD is available to order now from Children Desiring God. It will also be available on iTunes and Amazon soon.

 

Fighter Verses Songs CollectionThe Fighter Verses Songs Collection

The release of Set 2 completes the full series of Fighter Verses Songs. Purchase the Fighter Verses Songs Collection for just $35 to receive all five CDs. You and your family will be equipped to memorize and review 260 Scripture passages with these beautiful and encouraging songs.

 

 

 

Categories: Christian Resources

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