How Will Our Children Learn to Honor God?

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Pastor Andrew Murray

Here are some thoughtful reflections from Pastor Andrew Murray (b.1828, d.1917) regarding the importance of the fifth commandment:

The young child is guided, not by reflection or argument, but by feeling and affection. He cannot yet realize and honor the unseen God…The child can only honor what he sees to be worthy of honor. And this is the parent’s high calling—always so to speak and act, so to live in the child’s presence, that honor may be spontaneously and unconsciously rendered…

Above all, let parents remember that honor really comes from God. Let them honor Him in the eyes of their children, and He will honor them there, too. Let them beware of this sin, honoring their child more than God; it is the sure way to grief for parents and children together. But from parents, who in everything seek to honor God, children will learn to honor God and them together; the parent who teaches his child to obey the fifth commandment has guided his feet into the way of all God’s commandments. A child’s first virtue is the honoring and obeying of his parents.

(“The Children’s Commandment” quoted from Your Child’s Profession of Faith by Dennis Gundersen, copyright©2010, page 118)

A Great Summer Read

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As parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors it is the deep longing of our hearts that our young people come to genuine saving faith in Christ—the sooner the better. But often our sincere longings may carry mixed signals and/or misunderstanding. For example, our eagerness for them to be saved may become outward pressure on them to please us. Or, our children and students may simply be showing spiritual curiosity, which we mistake as a profession of true faith. What’s a parent or teacher to do?

Well one really helpful resource is Pastor Dennis Gundersen’s book, Your Child’s Profession of Faith. In just 120 pages he deals with a difficult topic head-on, offering wise, biblical, and practical advice. Here are his chapter headings:

  1. Putting the Issue on the Table
  2. A Parent’s Greatest Concern
  3. The Intellectual Maturity of Children
  4. The Changeableness and Instability of Children
  5. The Likelihood of Deception in Children
  6. Childhood: A Time for Patient Cultivation
  7. The Manifestations of Faith
  8. When Your Child Is Ready for Baptism
  9. Some Concluding Counsels

Although written specifically for parents, as a teacher I found his counsel very insightful in working with children in a classroom setting. So children’s ministry leaders, pass this recommendation on to your ministry volunteers as well. Buy a copy and pass it around!

A Banner to Fly Over Your Parenting and Children’s Ministry

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What if we were to take this statement and make it a type of banner to fly over our parenting and children’s and youth ministries in the coming years?

Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God. Our aim is not to take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth. Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth.

(“Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory,” by John Piper, ©Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

Think of how countercultural and even counterintuitive this is…and yet it is so radically biblical and life-giving for our children! In many ways, our resources have been developed underneath this sweeping banner. For example, our first two distinctions are:

  • A Big Vision of God

Our curricula aims to acquaint children with the incomparable majesty of the triune God by digging deep into His divine character as revealed throughout Scripture. We believe that children should be taught the beauty and grandeur of His manifold perfections. In completing our scope and sequence, children will have learned and explored, with increasing depth, more than 20 distinct attributes of God.

  • The Centrality of God in All Things

Every lesson in every curriculum aims to magnify the triune God above all—His name, fame, honor, and glory. We believe children will find their greatest joy when they esteem God most. Therefore, the lessons use language, illustrations, and applications that point children toward God-adoration. Furthermore, the curricula challenge children to see that every aspect of life is to fall under centrality of God and His sovereign rule.

Every resource we develop seeks to do these things—from nursery and beyond. Two resources in particular are designed to give children a “high view” of God by carefully focusing on His divine attributes and character.

The ABCs of God: A Study for Children on the Greatness and Worth of God (1st – 3rd Grade, 40 lessons)
The ABCs of God was written to present children with the beauty and awesome grandeur of the incomparable greatness and worth of God. Toward this end, this curriculum uses the framework of the alphabet to teach children key attributes of God and other words that define His character. These are deep doctrinal truths that answer the most important questions for each of us, namely, “Who is God? What is God like? How should I respond to God?”

(Note: The revised version of The ABCs of God will be available Summer 2016. Watch the blog for further updates.)

How Majestic Is Your Name: A Study for Children on the Names and Character of God (5th – 6th Grade, 40 lessons)
The names of God in the Bible are a reflection of His character, which is so glorious that He cannot be described by a single name. His character is communicated in hundreds of names progressively revealed in the Bible. But the focus of How Majestic Is Your Name is not the many names, titles and references to God. This are merely the structure to show the greatness of our God. Each lesson presents glorious truths about God and encourages students to see and rejoice in His goodness and greatness.

Is your church already using one or both of these curricula? Have you and your children been encouraged as you have seen a great and marvelous view of God and the surpassing worth of Christ? We would be delighted if you would share an encouraging testimony with us and others.

(Image courtesy of photoexplorer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Why Choose CDG Curriculum?

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One of the surprising (but delightful) statistics from our recent National Conference was the number of attendees who are new to the ministry of Children Desiring God. For them, the conference served as their first real exposure to our vision, mission, and philosophy. At the conference, they got a high-dose, jam-packed introduction to our ministry. And yet only a relatively small portion of the conference was focused on our curricula, and this was intentional. Why? Because the curricula is NOT the vision of CDG. Rather, it serves as one tool for accomplishing the vision. We believe that it is a valuable and helpful tool, and of course we would be delighted if you would use our curricula in your churches and/or homes.

We also know that there are other wonderful curricula out there to choose from. So why choose CDG? Here are some distinctions we offer:

Our curriculum is committed to…

  • A Big Vision of God
  • The Centrality of God in All Things
  • Doctrinal Depth, Accuracy, and Clarity
  • Faithfulness to the Gospel
  • A Serious and Sober View of Sin
  • A Scope and Sequence that Aims to Present the Whole Counsel of God
  • A Rigorous Study of the Bible and Training of the Mind
  • Age-Appropriate Visuals and Illustrations that Enhance the Learning Experience
  • Personal Application that Encourages a Proper Response in the Mind, Heart, and Will
  • Excitement for God’s Global Purposes
  • Maximizing Classroom Time with Biblical Teaching and Spiritual Discussion
  • Assisting Parents in Discipling their Children
  • Stewardship of Resources

To read a further explanation of each, click here.

 

Using Foundation Verses in Your Parenting

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Back when my children were younger, there was a phrase I often repeated: “Give me a verse.” This was usually in response to a sinful attitude, word, or action presenting itself. It was my way of reminding them (and myself) that all of our thoughts, emotions, words, and actions need to be shaped and come under the authority of Scripture. For example, suppose a hypothetical grandson of mine is complaining about having to eat his vegetables before getting a cookie for desert. Mommy reminds him of a verse he knows:

Do all things without grumbling… (Philippians 2:14, ESV)

Or suppose that same child is mad because he didn’t get things his own way. He wants to be the boss! Mommy reminds him of a verse he has memorized:

No one can serve two masters… (Matthew 6:24, ESV)

God is the boss! You must do things His way, and not your own way. Verses like these can then be used to help children understand their sin nature—“What is it that makes us want to grumble and complain? Why do we want to do things our own way instead of God’s way?”—and provide wonderful opportunities to share Gospel truths with them, such as, “We are sinners. We need Jesus!”

But “give me a verse” should not be used only as a means of correction. Our children should also be able to call to mind verses that remind them of God’s goodness and greatness in the very “ordinary” experiences of daily life. When my 2-year-old granddaughter delights in playing outside on a beautiful sunny day, mommy could ask, “Who made the beautiful sunshine?” and then remind her of a verse she has memorized:

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

Or,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above… (James 1:17, ESV)

All of the above presupposes that they first have verses memorized. And it’s never too early to begin Bible memory. My daughter and son-in-law are using the CDG resource, Foundation Verses, to introduce their young children to Scripture memory, and as a parenting tool. The resource includes the above four verses, plus 72 more. They are strategically chosen Bible verses for children 2-5 years old. The ring-bound pack includes 76 short verses designed to lay a firm Scriptural foundation of basic biblical truth that will pave the way for faith response. Each verse has a picture prompt to help non-readers remember the passage.

You can find out more about Foundation Verses here.

What’s Your Plan for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God?

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It is a well-known fact in my family that I am a stereotypical procrastinator. I stall as long as possible before getting things done—even really important things! Long-term strategic planning is not my natural mode of operation, as I would rather wait and then be motivated by the “tyranny of the urgent.” But when it comes to the spiritual education and formation of our children and youth, this type of approach is not at all helpful or biblical. It puts off what should be very carefully planned and implemented.

For example, think ahead for a moment and ask yourself this long-term question: By the time my children and/or students reach adulthood, will they be able to answer these key questions?

  • What’s in the Bible?
  •  Who is the Bible about?
  •  What’s the main message of the Bible?
  •  What are the essential doctrines (truths) of the Christian faith?
  •  How are we to live?
  •  Why do we need to be saved?
  •  What must we do to be saved?
  •  How should we read and understand the Bible?

These types of questions cannot be readily or adequately addressed by a hit-and-miss approach. Rather, they require implementing a carefully constructed strategic plan—a plan that encompasses teaching the whole counsel of God. What does that look like? How and where do you begin?

This was the topic addressed in my seminar, “Making a Strategic Plan for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God,” at our National Conference this year. Here are two helpful resources from that seminar to assist you in making your own strategic plan: The seminar handout and the accompanying seminar PowerPoint presentation, which includes two charts showing the available from CDG curricula, from nursery to high school, and how each fits into the long-term, strategic plan.

 

24 Things Your Child Should Know About the Bible…in a Book

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Last week, I highlighted the curriculum I Stand in Awe: A Study for Children on the Bible, which teaches children about the nature and main message of the Bible. But what about a resource that might be a better fit in a home setting, such as a family devotional tool? Consider the book, God’s Word, which is adapted from the I Stand in Awe curriculum. God’s Word is a captivating, child-friendly resource for parents to use to approach the Bible with their children, and also to involve their children in reaching for the Bible themselves.

Each of the 26 chapters is only four pages long and displays a full-color illustration. It is written specifically to be read by or to children, with an engaging style that will help them understand the concepts presented. Furthermore, each chapter ends with personal application questions and a tangible activity to put the truths learned into practice.

As a parent and grandparent, I find this resource to be a great way to introduce children to the basics of the Bible. After reading through it with your child, not only will they be better equipped to answer the question, “What is the Bible?” but they will also be challenged, encouraged, and hopefully drawn to trust and treasure the Author of the Bible.

 

Your FAQs and Our Answers

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Did you know that we have a “Frequently Asked Questions” link on our website? It is found here and provides answers to common questions in the following categories:

  • placing an order
  • changing/returning orders
  • electronic resources
  • curriculum
  • policies
  • translations (ESV)

For example, here are commonly asked questions in the “curriculum” category:

Q: Where can I find sample lessons?

Q: What is the sequence of the CDG curricula?

Q: How long does it take for a teacher to prepare to teach this curriculum?

Q: How much time is required to teach the lesson in a Sunday school class?

Q: How are the student workbooks used?

Q: How can I use these curricula in a home or Christian school setting?

Q: Do you have a missions curriculum?

Q: Why are the elementary-aged curricula 40 weeks in length?

Q: Why are illustrations (object lessons) used at the beginning of most lessons?

Q: What is distinctive about the midweek curricula?

Q: What are your plans for junior high and senior high curricula?

Click on each, and you’ll find an answer. What if that answer doesn’t fully address your question or concern? Or, what if your question isn’t one of our FAQ? Give us a call. Our customer service ladies will be happy to talk with you! Who knows, it might be that your question will become the next FAQ to add to our list.

(Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

How Can We Help You?

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We are soon to enter one of the busiest seasons at CDG—summer. It’s the time when churches and parents are gearing up for the fall, which often means curriculum decisions. This brings to mind at least three things I really love about our “customer service” staff.

  • They fully embrace our vision and mission, and our curriculum philosophy and distinctions. So, when they answer your questions, it comes from a genuine longing to see Christ exalted and treasured in churches and homes.
  • They have a vast knowledge of our resources, and they often have experience with those resources in the classroom setting.
  • They have servant hearts that love to serve churches, parents, missionaries, and others in a myriad of ways that go beyond simply providing information about our resources.

Who are these ladies you will hear at the other end of the phone?

Holly

  • was one of the pilot teachers of the CDG Preschool curricula
  • taught and/or was a team leader in elementary Sunday school classes using CDG curriculum
  • has filled in as a small group leader and worship leader as needed
  • “My parenting was deeply influenced by the CDG vision and curriculum. My kids grew up with the CDG curricula and, assuming I have grandchildren someday, it’s my hope that they would be able to do this also.”

Lori

  • nursery caregiver, Sunday school teacher, team leader, worship leader, and substitute while using CDG materials
  • worked as an assistant Sunday school superintendent
  • worked with all age groups from birth through high school

Suzy

  • served at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis for 10 years doing administration for Sunday school, along with the occasional role as small group leader or teacher
  • now ministers as an auntie to eight nieces and nephews

 

Here are a few examples of the types of issues and questions they address when a customer calls:

  • budget constraints
  • getting leadership/teachers on board with the vision
  • lack of regular volunteers
  • addressing year-round Sunday school
  • having Sunday school during church service so teachers can’t attend church
  • determining curriculum with a range of children’s ages (a frequent question)
  • understanding curriculum licensing (another frequent question)
  • implementing a church-wide Bible memory program
  • using the Fighter Verses app
  • finding solutions for internationals
  • translated materials
  • many questions about preschool materials
  • training (people want to be able to train their volunteers, but don’t know how)
  • what to order as a new customer (e.g., Classroom Kit versus Teacher’s Guide, etc.)

In response, they will take time to…

  • explain answers to any questions
  • brainstorm solutions
  • walk through how the material might work in your particular situation
  • point to other resources available, such as the blog, and free audio and video training
  • when appropriate, pray for customers carrying heavy burdens
  • offer personal encouragement when ministry is hard

If you would like to reach our customer service staff at CDG, please feel free to give us a call (1.877.400.1414), or send us an email (info@childrendesiringGod.org).

Our phones are answered from 9 a.m.  to 3 p.m. (Central Time) from October through June, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Central Time) from July through September.

 

Fill Your Backyard with Good News this Summer

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Summer is a wonderful time for children. School is out, and there is plenty of warmth, sunshine, fresh air, and playing outside with friends and neighbors during the long summer days. Many backyards will be filled with the noisy sounds of happy children. But those happy children may also be desperately poor and needy…in their hearts and souls. And no amount of play or games or special activities will satisfy the sinful condition of their hearts. They need Jesus! They need the good news of the Gospel.

The children of your neighborhood may have never heard Gospel truth they so urgently need. Their parents may never think of stepping through the doors of a Bible-believing church. But they may be willing to let their children come to your backyard for a Backyard Bible Club. Just think, your own backyard, no matter how big or small, can be a means of proclaiming and demonstrating God’s sovereign grace to the children in your neighborhood. What an opportunity!

Does this sound exciting but a bit overwhelming? Not sure what a Backyard Bible Club (BYBC) is all about? Here is a description by Sally Michael:

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’s how the clubs work. Most meet for five sessions, usually five mornings or afternoons of the same week. 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. Though an hour and a half is recommended, 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. Any age group from kindergarten to sixth grade can be included.

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 have a club. Sometimes a family will volunteer their yard and invite the children, and the 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.

Does this peak your interest? Check out our BYBC page for curriculum options and other helpful features. Also, check out this short video about how a church in Amarillo, Texas used our Backyard Bible Club curricula.

(Image courtesy of photostock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

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