What is a Teacher?

Why invest in the sometimes tiresome recruitment and training of classroom teachers in children’s and youth ministry? Why use “old-fashioned” teaching methods when high quality lesson videos are available for classroom use? Won’t children and youth learn more through the use of new technology? Here is a really thought-provoking video titled “This Will Revolutionize Education,” which I found on Tim Challies’ blog:

Although I would not agree on every point the presenter makes, he does challenge us to think about what is at the core of the learning experience and the necessity for personal interaction between students and teachers. As you watch it, think about the following questions in relation to your church’s children and youth classrooms:

  • Are we using curriculum, lessons, and teaching style that encourages students to develop thinking and reasoning skills? Are they being challenged to exert “mental effort” during the lesson?
  • Do we have a means by which to evaluate and discern what is going on inside each student’s head and heart (i.e., a time for lesson application in small groups)?
  • Are we effectively using words and pictures in our teaching?
  • Is the use of technology (e.g., video) hindering or minimizing personal teacher-student interaction, or serving to enhance it?
  • Do we see evidence of teachers challenging, inspiring, and exciting students to want to learn?
  • Are we investing the appropriate amount of time and resources needed to properly train and equip godly teachers?

Biblical Literacy—What Will our Students Need?

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Imagine doing the following exercise with a classroom of 16-year-old students:

Summarize and explain the main meaning of Romans 3:21-26. How does this text apply to your own life?

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,  whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (ESV)

How do you think those 16-year-olds would do? What type of skills would be necessary in order to rightly read, interpret, and apply the text? Consider the following:

  • There are big words that must be understood—righteousness, justified, redemption, propitiation, forbearance, to name a few.
  • There are Old Testament concepts that must be identified and connected to their New Testament fulfillment.
  • There are important doctrines about God, man, Jesus, and redemption.
  • Essential truths about the Gospel and salvation are being proclaimed.
  • “…to be received by faith” calls for a specific personal response.

This might be a difficult exercise for a 16-year-old, but as parents and teachers we should long for our students to be able to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15) by the time they leave our homes and classrooms. This will not happen by accident, but by careful and intentional instruction of the whole counsel of God.

To that end, it’s important that we give our students all of the following :

a chronological, story-based presentation of both Old and New Testament that highlights the character of God, and the major people, themes, and events

  • biblical theology that explores the “meta-narrative”—the historical/redemptive storyline of the Bible
  • systematic theology that teaches the essential doctrines of the Christian faith
  • an explicit presentation of the Gospel
  • the Bible’s moral and ethical instruction
  • inductive Bible study skills

Granted, biblical literacy cannot be measured merely by a student’s ability or inability to rightly read and interpret Romans 3:21-26. However, it is important to remember that genuine faith comes about and matures through a right knowledge and understanding of the Word (Romans 10:17, 2 Timothy 3:14-17). So let’s be committed to pressing our students forward, encouraging them to…

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

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Family: A Gift, but Not the Giver

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photostock/freedigitalphotos.net

An important reminder from Pastor Ray Ortlund:

God gave us family. And what a precious gift! But it is a gift, not the Giver. Jesus will not allow himself to be demoted to High Priest in the Temple Of Family Values.  When we come to Christ, we leave that Temple behind, never to return, and we spend the rest of our lives recruiting our families to worship Jesus.

(“Family Values”, www.thegospelcoalition.org )

 

A Poem by John Piper

Desiring God originally posted this video poem on January 22, 2013. May it serve to challenge and encourage us today. Here is the prelude to the poem:

God is the ultimate actor in life and in death and after death. And we are created to join him in acting on behalf of the children. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

We were made to rescue the perishing—the guilty perishing from hell, and the innocent perishing from murder. The earliest known Christian document outside the New Testament said, “Thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten” (Didache, 2.2).Now is the time to venture something new. Will you dream with me? Let the poem make your heart soar with The Children to where vision is born.

 

Training Children to Value and Protect Human Life

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I was 13 years old when the infamous Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the US Supreme Court. Sadly, I don’t remember any response to the decision from the church that my family was attending at the time. For the current generation, abortion has simply been the “law of the land.” But the issue has never really been settled in the hearts and minds of many Americans, as evidenced by ongoing debate, legislation, and a growing prolife sentiment. Underneath all of these efforts, it is crucial that we teach the next generation a biblical view of human life—whether the life of the unborn, the disabled, or the old. Here are some basic biblical truths our children should know:

  •  God is at work within the womb, intimately and wonderfully forming His unique image bearer (Psalm 139:13-15, Genesis 1:27).
  • All of our days, both before and after birth, belong to God (Psalm 139:16).
  • We are to praise God for His wonderful gift of children (Psalm 139:14, Psalm 127:3).
  • Abortion is the killing of human life. God hates abortion (Exodus 20:13, Proverbs 6:17).
  • God desires that we expose the works of darkness and protect human life (Ephesians 5:11, Proverbs 24:11).

What might this last point look like in its application for children? Here are a few suggestions:

  • As a family, participate in your state’s annual “Right to Life” march.
  • Donate supplies and money to a local crisis pregnancy center.
  • Help your child write letters to legislators concerning prolife legislation.
  • Promote and affirm adoption.
  • Get involved in your church’s disabilities ministry.
  • Volunteer at a local nursing home.
  • For older children: research topics such as euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and eugenics.

The following websites can provide a wealth of additional information:

Also, here is a simple devotional and activity for your family from our curriculum The Righteous Shall Live by Faith: A Study for Children and Adult on the Ten Commandments.

(Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

The Maturity Level of Children

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In 1 Corinthians 13:11, the apostle Paul points to some important distinctions between children and adults:

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. (ESV)

As teachers of children, and as parents, we need to think carefully about these words. Understanding the maturity level of children versus adults is crucial in our teaching philosophy and methods. It should also rightly concern us as we seek to lead them in making a sincere profession of faith. Regarding the above text, Pastor Dennis Gundersen offers these helpful observations:

A child speaks less maturely than most adults; so you cannot assume the he means what you mean by what he says, even if he uses the same words.

A child thinks less maturely than most adults; so you cannot assume that his thoughts are what yours are, even though he uses the same words you might have used to express those thoughts.

A child’s reasoning skills are less mature than those of most adults; his is the reasoning of a child, incomplete and partial to a greater degree than even some of the most immature adults you know. So: can anyone seriously doubt that this simply must be taken into account when we are considering how we will assess a child’s profession of faith?

[Children] are naïve in their view of the world and of life in general. Their judgment is shallow; their ability to see the ramifications of their decisions is limited. Admitting this is not saying anything insulting about children; it’s merely a fact of life for those in that stage of their humanity.

…All of which means, there is no reason to be ashamed of having reservations when we’re hearing words of commitment from a child. His words may greatly resemble the words of someone who is truly committed, but we must have the insight to know that his thinking may not line up with his words. Children simply often lack the maturity of mind to properly understand the choice they are saying they wish to make.

(Your Child’s Profession of Faith, copyright©2010, pages 31-32)

(Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

The Next Generation of Worship Leaders and Musicians

ID-10031622Several years ago, Children Desiring God had the wonderful privilege of doing a conference in the Dominican Republic. One lasting impression of that conference was the conference worship team, which was mainly made up of children and youth. They were extremely gifted and dedicated. After the conference, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk to the pastor who led this student worship team. This was not a worship team brought together just for our conference. Rather, this pastor had a vision for the next generation of worship leaders and musicians and, years earlier, he had begun to intentionally train these students. He had a systematic plan in place. Does your church have such a vision and plan? Read these words from Bob Kauflin:

Where do the next generation of musicians in the church come from? One option is to hope and pray that young musicians will get trained in the world, get saved, and use their gifts in the church. That certainly happens frequently enough.

A more faithful option is to figure out what we can do to influence, inspire, and train the young people in our church to develop and use their gifts to serve the church for the glory of God. It doesn’t matter whether we’re in a church of 50, 500, or 5000, we can begin to think about how we can pass on what we’ve learned.

 (“Preparing the Next Generation of Musicians”, www.worshipmatters.com.)

(Image courtesy of zirconicusso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Training Our Children’s Appetites

You see it in the classroom—the child who always wants to be first to answer the question, or receive the snack, or be chosen to participate in a lesson illustration. You see it in the home—“I want to go outside now!” or “I want more candy!” Desires, cravings, and appetites. Dr. Russell Moore offers some very helpful observations and biblical counsel for parents and teachers about the necessity of disciplining our children’s appetite:

Or, you can watch the entire seminar by Dr. Moore, “Training Parents How to Discipline with the End in View” below:

 

What Our Children Really Need

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There is a growing movement in both children’s and youth ministry toward making sure that everything we teach is about the “Gospel” with the goal of encouraging students to make a sincere profession of faith. Yes, our children need to be saved and embrace Jesus as their Savior. That is of greatest importance. But I wonder if, in the process, we inadvertently minimize the need to put an explicit Gospel presentation within the larger context of ongoing, progressive spiritual nourishment. Carefully consider these words by Tedd Tripp,

Let’s rethink this matter of getting your children saved. Perhaps one of the problems with this perspective is that it looks for a major spiritual event of salvation and misses the spiritual process of nurturing your children… Even when the Spirit illuminates and quickens them to life, it is a life of progressive growth.

 What your children need is spiritual nurture. They need to be taught the ways of God. They need to be instructed in the character of God so that they can learn a proper fear of God. They need to understand that all of life rushes toward the day when we shall stand before God and give account. They need to learn about the pervasive effects of the fall on the human condition. They need to understand subtleties of the malignancy of their own hearts. They need to know the dangers of trusting in themselves. They need answers to the great problems of life. They need to understand the difference between presuppositional thinking and empiricism. In short, they need instruction.

(Shepherding A Child’s Heart, copyright©1995, page 54.)

(Photo courtesy Phanlop88 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Leading Your Child to Christ

Leading Your Child to Christ

It is the hope and prayer of every Christian parent—that our children would come to embrace Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. As parents, it is to be our greatest duty, privilege, and delight to carefully and intentionally present our children with the Gospel of Jesus. Marty Machowski has created a great tool to equip parents to do just that. His short (24-page) booklet, Leading Your Child to Christ: Biblical Direction for Sharing the Gospel, is solid, balanced, and profoundly simple…without being simplistic! Not only is this booklet all of these things, it is also very inexpensive…under $5. You can also have a look at a PDF version here.

 

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