Encouraging Children to Memorize Scripture

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!

 

 

Encouraging Active Minds in the “Knowing” Process

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.”

 

Helping Our Children When Church Life Gets Messy

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)

Strategies for Church-Wide Bible Memorization

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.

Enhancing Your Child’s Classroom Experience

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.

 

Expectations for Teachers

Tips for Parents

 

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

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.

 

Now Available: New Fighter Verses Songs

Now Available: 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.

Fighter Verses Songs: 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

2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

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.

 

 

 

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 2

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 2

Yesterday’s post highlighted the importance of our children having other godly people in their lives. My husband and I did this through a variety of means, from the time our children were very young. Here are a few suggestions from Chap Bettis about how you can begin and foster this process:

Host an intergenerational Bible study…These nights were built into our schedule and created space for the children to spend time with other adults. According to one of my children, the Bible study with these other families [and singles] was an important influence in her walking with the Lord in later years. Few of these studies were dazzling. We just did life together with individuals who, though imperfect, were seeking to honor the Lord.

Live Life TogetherCapture time on Sundays. The Sunday worship gathering can be a great time to develop those informal relationships as well….Both of my sons have developed relationships with an older gentleman in our church who seeks to connect with them on a regular basis. After he catches up with them, he asks them, “How can I pray for you?” This brief conversation provides real connection…

Praise your friends in private. Sharon and I wanted to be appreciative of the role others could have in our children’s lives without giving up our own primary role. In many cases that meant praising our friends in private for things we wanted our children to admire.

 (From The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ, copyright©2016, page 58.)

My children greatly benefited from all the above. For example, being in an intergenerational small group Bible study was an important first step. Our children began to get to know other Christian adults, beyond the more casual (but still important) interaction that happens on Sunday mornings and at other church gatherings. It also offered my husband and I a deeper glimpse into their lives, noting and encouraging relationships that would be appropriate and compatible with our values and our children’s needs.

Another suggestion is to consider having your family serve together in a specific church ministry. Our children formed many important, long-term relationships with godly men and women while serving alongside them.

As we enter this new year, consider how you and your church can better work together to foster and nurture these types of faith nurturing relationships. For your own children and the children in your church, these relationships with godly men and women can serve as one of God’s gracious means for a child’s salvation and ongoing walk with the Lord. We need the church. We need the community of the family of God!

 

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 1

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 1

I cannot overstate the importance of Christian mentors in the lives of our two children. One older couple in particular stands out in both of their lives. Even now, as married adults, this relationship is tender, enduring, and a continued source of encouragement for our children and their spouses. But that relationship didn’t just come about by accident—it was intentionally sought out and fostered, beginning when our children were very young. This mentoring relationship and others like it came about through deliberately connecting our children with godly examples within our local church. Little did we know at the time, as young parents, the rich benefits we and our children would reap from these relationships.

With that experience in mind, I was so pleased that Chap Bettis included an entire chapter titled “Connecting Your Children to Others” in his new book The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ. Here is a brief excerpt:

Disciple-Making ParentsI cannot handle the discipleship of my children alone. Although this discipleship is primarily my calling, humility compels me to invite the input of others. Our children need other examples and models who will take them further than we can. We are not sufficient in ourselves. Having said this, there can be a tendency for parents to give over the entire responsibility of discipleship to the youth leader or the Sunday school teacher. Or, by contrast, others overreact and isolate themselves and their families. They want to be the only influence on their children. This reeks of pride and self-righteousness.

Children need to see others up close. They need others to speak into their lives. As a parent, I have the ability to call out others as good examples. As my children grow older, I have the ability to encourage mentoring relationships with others.

Disciple-making parents actively connect their children to other godly examples.

(copyright©2016, page 56)

Read Part 2

Partner with Children Desiring God

Partner with Children Desiring God

 

New Passion-Filled Ways to Reach the Next Generation

Since the late 1990s, you—our customers and partners—have encouraged us with your passion to reach the next generation. When we interact with you, we hear your love for God overflow and know that you are as passionate as we are for the next generation to know, honor and treasure God and His Son Jesus Christ. It is our joy to serve you by encouraging you to be vision-oriented and equipping you with God-centered, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting resources.

We are really excited for the start of 2017 as we not only mark a new year but also new ways and strategies for us to fulfill our 20-year-old mission for the next generation.

What New Passion-Filled Strategies Are We Working on Now?

New and revised curriculum and resources are continuing to be created in English and Spanish, but we want our resources to reach far beyond these two languages. We are currently working with more than 10  translation projects and would love to establish more so we can serve the global next generations.

We freely provide resources (vision of ministry, curriculum, training, etc.) to translation teams who will faithfully translate our them. In turn, we will freely distribute those translations throughout the world on a brand new website that will soon be developed.

Speaking of freely, another goal is to provide free registrations for all attendees at our future Impact regional conferences so more teachers and parents can hear our vision and training. We are also continuing to add to our collection of over 75 free training seminars on our website.

Would you prayerfully consider partnering with us on our new strategies to reach the next generations of the world?

How You Can Partner With Us

You can partner with us by praying for:

  • our ministry
  • the souls of the global next generation
  • current and new translation partners
  • development of a new website
  • development of new resources

If you would like to receive quarterly prayer updates, please sign up to become a prayer partner.

If you feel lead, we would be grateful for your financial partnership to help implement these passion-filled strategies.

Give Now

 

 

If you have any questions, please email Lori at ngp@childrendesiringGod.org or call 877.400.1414

 

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