Gospel “Poles” and the Whole Counsel of God

Gospel "Poles" and the Whole Counsel of God

My family enjoys camping…old-fashioned tent camping. We have a very large tent that my children affectionately call the “Taj Mahal”. The frame of the tent is a series of poles that must first be assembled and then threaded through the proper sleeves of the tent fabric. This takes time. There is no short-cut. But when every pole is properly in place, you simply pull on the guide ropes and the tent goes up and takes its proper shape.

This illustration can be helpful in demonstrating the importance of communicating the Gospel within the whole counsel of God. There are “poles”—key doctrinal truths—involved in properly understanding the significance of the Person and saving work of Christ. As parents and teachers, we should consider how to carefully and intentionally walk through and explain these preceding doctrinal truths with our children. In doing this, the full extent of who Jesus is, what He has done, and why He did it, will make more sense to our children. The Gospel of Jesus will take on its proper “shape” so to speak.

This tent illustration was a feature in my recent seminar “Communicating the Gospel Within the Whole Counsel of God” at the National Conference. In the near future, the entire seminar will be available online for you to listen to. But until then, you might be interested in this seminar handout which outlines 9 key doctrinal themes for communicating the Gospel.

(Note: If you attended this seminar at our conference, please download the handout noted above. The handout distributed at the conference had a section missing.)

 

 

We Are Moving to a New Office Space

Children Desiring God Blog // Moving

Hello Friends,

We will be moving to a new office space at the end of this week. Don’t worry, you will still be able to find us in all the same places online and over the phone. But, with all of the boxes to finish packing and things to move, our customer service team will be limited over the next week. If we don’t pick up the phone, just leave us a message. If you need a response by a certain time, please let us know. We will be checking voice mail and emails periodically and will try our best to get back to you as soon as possible!

Children Desiring God
www.childrendesiringGod.org
info@childrendesiringGod.org
877.400.1414

 

 

You CAN Do Catechism!

Children Desiring God Blog // You CAN Do Catechism

One of the new seminars at this year’s national conference was on using catechisms for teaching children—especially in the home. In the future we will have this seminar by Sally Michael available on our web site. But until then, here is an excellent article for parents (take note fathers!!!) to encourage you to get started: “The Importance and Practice of Catechism: Fathers-Instruct Your Childrenby Dr. Kim Riddlebarger. He concludes his article with these practical reminders:

First, be consistent. The best way to learn a catechism is simply to keep at it! Take “the tortoise” and not “the hare” approach. You cannot teach your child a lengthy catechism in a couple of weeks! But over time—if you keep at ityou’ll be amazed at how much children will remember and comprehend.

Second, be creative. One of the greatest obstacles to catechism is boredom. Simply reading the question and then expecting your children to recite the memorized answer is no fun for them, and they’ll come to hate the whole idea. Go ahead and stress memorization, but whenever you can, relate the catechism to the Scriptures. Most catechisms give Scripture proofs. And if you discuss the question and answer with your kids, and then relate the catechism to real life situations, current events or to movies and TV, your kids will get the sense that theology is of great value in navigating their way through life…

Third, don’t panic. Many people tell me that they are new to this and there is always the pressure to make up for lost time. Go slow. Quality time is always better than rushed and tense sessions where the kids are tired and the parents are frustrated. Do what you can when you can and have realistic expectations. Even a small amount of catechesis is better than no catechesis.

Last, the more that you know about the catechism the easier the whole process will become. You may have to get a commentary on the particular catechism that you use, and you may have to spend some time preparing to catechize. Being an effective teacher means being a faithful student. You cannot teach what you do not know…

1. (“Fathers, Instruct Your Children” was originally published as “The Need to Recover the Practice of Catechism” and was revised for use by Christ Reformed Church. Re-printed by permission, © 1995 Modern Reformation / ACE)

Running the Race Set Before Us

Children Desiring God Blog // Running the Race Set Before Us

I have never run a marathon–nor at this age, do I ever plan to–but I have heard from others that setting the right pace is key. It’s not a quick sprint in which you expend all your reserves in a mere minute or two. There is no quick and easy path to the finish line. You must keep your eye on the prize and keep moving with a steady, disciplined pace.

This is a helpful illustration for children’s and youth ministry workers and parents. Especially for the many of us who have recently returned from our national conference in Indianapolis. The topic, “Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God: What’s at Stake for the Next Generation,” was a weighty one. Speaker after speaker encouraged and exhorted us to rise to the challenge. In some ways, those three days felt like running a race–overwhelming and tiring! But the real race has just begun in our homes and churches. If we are to finish this race well, we need to set about it with a long-term perspective…a marathon perspective and not a sprint perspective.

Over at The Christward Collective, Nick Batzig has posted a helpful article titled, “A Marathon Mentality for Ministry”. Although written specifically for pastors, his main points are applicable to parents and other ministry workers as well. Here are the five things he highlights in his article:

A Marathon Mentality for Ministry

1. Learn to be content.
2. Learn to sit at the feet of Jesus.
3. Learn to diligently seek the Lord in prayer.
4. Learn biblical measurements of faithfulness and fruitfulness.
5. Learn to persevere with diligence and zeal. 

I highly recommend reading the entire article. It’s short but extremely encouraging!

Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation

Vroegop Header

We were honored to have Mark Vroegop launch our Children Desiring God conference with his message on Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation. Mark guided us through six ways we can model our ministry after Paul’s ministry. Video of the conference keynotes will be available at a later date.

Acts 20:17-38

This passage is important because in the final moments of a person’s life, you hear the distillation of his ministry to a people. What do we hear from Paul in these moments? How do his words relate to ministry to children and youth?

Six Ways Our Ministry to Children and Youth Should Be Modeled After Paul’s Ministry

1. Personally

Teaching in a life-on-life context. Declaring the whole counsel of God is a personal, life-on-life issue. The word of God transmitted through the life of another person is not just a tool, but the foundation of personal ministry.

2. Seriously

Teaching has culpability because James says that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Paul’s ministry was of such a character that he would know he was innocent if any of them were eternally lost. This suggests that innocence on the part of a teacher is possible. But, there are many people who have never considered the question of how to declare the whole counsel of God in teaching. Because of this, some teachers are guilty.

Children Desiring God Blog // Mark Vroegop Header

3. Faithfully

Teaching with courageous consistency. To “shrink back” from the whole counsel of God would be to not have faith in the entirety of the message of the Bible. To faithfully teach the Bible is to teach every part of it, not just the parts we like.

4. Thoroughly

Thorough teaching is the kind of teaching that encompasses biblical Christianity in a unified, balanced and comprehensive way. Nothing important is left out. Unified teaching connects the content of the Bible to the redemptive arc of the Bible, and demonstrates that all of those things relate. Balanced teaching helps children to know what it most important. It means that you teach the “ands” in the Bible; that the paradoxes of God’s character matter. Comprehensive teaching wrestles with big-picture questions that span the length of the canon.

5. Urgently

Paul was aware of the dangers all around and he urged teachers to be on guard. He knew what the human heart was capable, and he knew the devices of the enemy, which made teaching the whole counsel of God all the more important to him. Today, we live in a postmodern culture, in which truth is under attack. Knowing the whole counsel of God helps us stay grounded in truth in the midst of this culture. We must declare the whole counsel of God urgently because the voices in our culture are getting louder, and more distinct from Biblical truth.

Confidently

We are in good care when God is sovereign and the Word of God is a part of our lives. God is sovereign and his word still has power. The Word not only gives life, but helps us persevere to the end. The grace of God and the Word of God guarantees that our children who love Jesus will persevere to the end.

Watch Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler and John Piper Today on the National Conference Live Stream

National Conference

 

Today we have the honor of hearing from Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler and John Piper at the Children Desiring God National Conference. We hope you will be able to join us on the Live Stream!

Join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Live Stream Schedule

Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God
8:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Bruce Ware

Dr. Bruce A. Ware has taught theology for over 30 years in several leading evangelical colleges and seminaries. Since 1998, Bruce has served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he is the T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology and chairman of the Department of Christian Theology. Bruce has written numerous books, including his theology book for children, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God , and most recently The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ . He has served as the president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as well as the Evangelical Theological Society. Bruce and his wife, Jodi, have two daughters, Bethany and Rachel, and three grandchildren.

Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God
Under Pressure to Conform
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Albert Mohler

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, one of the largest seminaries in the world. On his website,AlbertMohler.com , Al writes commentaries on moral, cultural, and theological issues. He also hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. Viewed as a leader among American evangelicals, Al is widely sought as a columnist and commentator by the nation’s leading newspapers and news programs and has authored several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth . Al and his wife Mary have two children, Katie and Christopher and one grandson.

Believing the Whole Counsel of God:
How Our Children Can Know the Bible Is True
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
John Piper

Dr. John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminar. For over 30 years, John served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He’s the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available for free at desiringGod.org). John and his wife, Noël, have five children, Barnabas, Karsten, Benjamin, Abraham and Talitha, and twelve grandchildren.

 

LIVE STREAM Starting Soon! Watch David & Sally Michael and Mark Vroegop

National Conference Live Stream

The Children Desiring God National Conference is starting in just a few hours, and you can join us by watching on the Live Stream!

The stream will go live a few minutes before the session start times. Hoover your mouse over the player to access control to make the video full screen or adjust the quality.

Join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Foundations of God-Centered Children’s Ministry
12:45 PM – 5:00 PM
David & Sally Michael

Foundations 1 Handouts
Foundations 2 Handouts
Foundations 3 Handouts

David and Sally Michael are co-founders of Children Desiring God, where they share a passion for developing God-centered resources for the spiritual development of children in the home and church. David is the Pastor for Next Generations at College Park Church in Indianapolis. Sally is an author of curriculum, parenting resources and children’s books published by Children Desiring God and P&R Publishing. David and Sally enjoy spending time with their daughter Kristi, daughter Amy and son-in-law Gary, and three grandchildren—Anna, Katie and Joshua.

 

Delaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
Mark Vroegop

Mark Vroegop joined the leadership team at College Park Church in Indianapolis as Lead Pastor in 2008, after serving as a pastor for 13 years in Michigan. Mark was thrilled to join a clear and historic movement of God at College Park Church and be part of igniting a passion to follow Jesus, a love for the Word and a desire to see lives changed. His articles have been published in Leadership and 9Marks journals, and he serves on the boards of Life Action Ministries and Cedarville University, his alma mater. Mark and his wife, Sarah, have four children, Hayden, Joseph, Jeremiah and Savannah, and one daughter, Sylvia, who is in heaven after her unexpected still-birth in 2004.

National Conference Live Stream Schedule

 

 

Can’t make it to the conference? Join the LIVE STREAM!

National Conference Live Stream

We know many of you are not able to join us in person at the National Conference this week, but we don’t want you to miss the wonderful training we will be hearing on teaching the whole counsel of God to children.

You are invited to join us on the conference LIVE STREAM!

For the very first time, Children Desiring God is providing you special, free access to the three Foundations of God-Centered Children’s Ministry sessions and all five plenary sessions. Watch the blog Thursday for the Live Stream link, or simply visit Children Desiring God.

You can also join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

National Conference Live Stream Schedule

 

 

On Our Way!

Children Desiring God Blog // National Conference

 

The big week has arrived and the CDG staff is crazy-busy with last-minute details and travel plans for our National Conference at College Park Church in Indianapolis. We whole-heartedly believe that our conference theme, “Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God—What’s at Stake for the Next Generation,” is an extremely timely topic for our churches and families at this juncture of history.

Here are a few things we are eagerly anticipating at the conference…

  • Enjoying Christ-honoring fellowship with hundreds those attending the conference.
  • Being exhorted and encouraged through the teaching of Mark Vroegop, Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and David Michael.
  • Stirring up one another for ministry fruitfulness through a wide variety of seminars focusing on parenting, and children’s and youth ministries.
  • Sharing our joys, challenges, and testimonies for our mutual encouragement.
  • Praying together so that our hearts and minds may strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit for the labors that Christ has set before us, so that God may be glorified in all we do.

Would you please be in prayer for the conference this week? Here are a few specific requests:

  • Safe travel and health for all the attendees
  • That all the last-minute details will come together
  • A spirit of unity, love, thankfulness, patience, and Christ-like humility to pervade
  • Hearts and minds that are tender to the instruction of God’s word
  • Conference speakers, seminar leaders, and volunteers—for grace-fueled strength and wisdom

Thank you for your prayers!

 

Assessing Before You Spring Forward

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Spring time is a super busy season for those of us who garden. But before I begin to plant, there have been weeks of assessment: thinking back to what I planted last year—what worked, and what didn’t work. Why didn’t a certain plant grow well? What changes will I make this year?

In a similar way, spring time is also a great time to assess your children’s and youth ministry programs, curriculum, etc. What in particular needs assessing? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Is there a stated, coherent vision and philosophy from the leadership driving the current structures and programs? If asked, would your teachers and other ministry volunteers be able to succinctly articulate this vision and philosophy?
  • Curriculum (scope and sequence from preschool to high school)—As a whole, does the curriculum used over time reflect the six disciplines of teaching the whole counsel of God? (The six disciplines are: Bible study/chronological stories; biblical theology; systematic theology; moral instruction; explicit Gospel; and Bible study skills.)
  • Does your scope and sequence present these disciplines in a balanced way (not all “biblical theology,” not all “systematic theology,” etc.)?
  • Does the scope and sequence present biblical concepts to the targeted age group at appropriate age/learning levels?
  • Classroom time and structure—What time frame is available for formal teaching on Sundays, midweek, and other avenues? Does the time available prioritize formal Bible instruction?
  • What age groupings compose each classroom? Are these groupings conducive to the learning needs of the age group? Were these groupings arrived at based on necessity or convenience?
  • Were ministry volunteers provided adequate training and encouragement during the year?
  • Church and home instruction—Are there opportunities to partner together with the home in order to enhance and supplement the formal teaching of the church?
  • Is your plan accomplishing your stated goals? Do you have a means to assess this?

Answering the above questions—assessing the current structures, programs, curriculum etc.—can serve as diagnostic tools for planning ahead. It could very well be that your children’s and youth ministry is “on course” with your stated vision. But these questions may also reveal some weaknesses and areas that need to be addressed. Addressing these issues now, before you implement a strategic plan for the coming new school year in the fall is crucial.

(Image courtesy of dusky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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