Archive - August, 2013

Fall Gear Up: Prayer—What if…


In his booklet Utter Dependency on God, Through PrayerPastor Bud Burk beckons us to consider some “what if” questions regarding prayer in our classrooms. Here are a few of his “what if…”

What if the prayer environment in our classrooms (like Sunday school) was real and growing to the degree that parents began to ask a second question next to the first after each class time, the first being “what did you learn today”? What if they began asking questions like, “were you with God today—did you spend time with Jesus—what did the Spirit say to you while in prayer and in the Word”?

What if children knew that we expected God to be present in our classroom, because our expectation shaped how we prayed while among them?

What if the ministry to the next generation God has placed you in was known for its obvious God-glorifying

  • Word ministry: We teach children the Bible.
  • Prayer ministry: We help children listen to and pray to the God of the Bible in Jesus’ name.
  • What if your ministry could be summarized by Psalm 119:2, “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart,”?


Take Heart, Trouble’s Coming

Let not Your Heart be Troubled

The title of this post is my effort to offer a word of encouragement and hope for those who are getting ready to launch another season of ministry with children and youth. The rest of this post is for those who having difficulty finding encouragement and hope in the title.

I am taking my cues from the Lord Jesus, whose final words for his disciples span chapters 14-16 in gospel of John. One clear message of this discourse is that trouble is coming.

I am going away,” (14:28)
“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.” (14:30)
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (15:13)
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (15:18)
“I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (15:19)
“If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (15:20)
They will put you out of the synagogues…” (16:2)
“…the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God.” (16:2)
“A little while, and you will see me no longer…” (16:16)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament,…You will be sorrowful,…” (16:20)
“….you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone.” (16:32)


CDG at Home—Using the Curriculum for Home-School

CDG at home

As parents, we have the incredible privilege and responsibility of instructing our children’s minds, engaging their hearts, and nurturing their faith. Using Children Desiring God materials at home can be an effective tool in teaching and applying the most important truths that our children need to know and embrace—the truths communicated in the Bible.

Although our materials are designed for use in the church, we believe there are many advantages of presenting this material in your home:

  • Children have more time to listen, absorb, and interact with what they’ve been taught.
  • Parents are best suited to make the most meaningful application of these biblical truths when, as a family, they “walk by the way” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
  • The whole family can learn together, providing opportunities for children and parents to encourage and minister to one another.
  • Fathers and mothers can work together in their God-given roles as they train up their children in the instruction of the Lord.

Curriculum Features

  • The curriculum is “Bible-saturated.” Every lesson is designed so that your children come to know the Bible and the God of the Bible.
  • Lessons include concrete illustrations that help children understand deep biblical truths.
  • Children are directed to look up Bible passages and answer questions from the Bible, which develops Bible study skills and critical thinking.
  • The lessons are teacher friendly and incorporate an interactive teaching approach.
  • The question/answer format is very easy to navigate and to adapt to various ages.
  • Student Workbooks (or Journals for youth) compliment the teaching by giving hands-on opportunities that reinforce the main ideas from the lesson.
  • Journals challenge junior and senior high students to go deeper, providing study and devotional material beyond the formal teaching time.
  • Visual teaching aides are provided in PDF format that can be printed or displayed on a computer.
  • The Teacher’s Guides and Student Workbooks are available in print or PDF formats.

Adapting Illustrations and Demonstrations

The Children Desiring God material is easily adaptable to a home school setting. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Review the lesson to see where you can use real-situations for the illustrations given.
  • Use suggested objects or talk through an illustration—making the same points without using the objects.
  • If desired, omit an illustration. Some illustrations are especially suited for the classroom in order to keep the attention of a group of children. These can be omitted in the home.
  • Make space adjustments. For example, in the Faithful to All His Promises curriculum, the promises are printed on a large card to post in a classroom. If you don’t have space for this, you can simply put the cards in a notebook.
  • Make number adjustments. For example, in The ABCs of God, the curriculum asks for nine children to each take a letter card to spell the word “Incomprehensible.” Simply divide the cards among the number of children you have.
  • Assign older children to present one of the illustrations. They will have fun executing this, and it will take a task off your teaching plate.

Adapting for Multi-Age Groups

Most of the curriculum titles can be used with multi-age groups. However, you will have to take into account differing vocabulary levels and adjust when needed. Cater to the different age groups you are teaching by assigning tasks appropriate to their age.

For example, ask older children to read the Bible texts, and have younger children take part in demonstrations. If the workbook is too difficult for the younger children, adapt the assignment by asking them to draw a picture of something in the lesson or decorate a visual, or adapt the workbook page to fit their age. Older children can help younger children and can present parts of the lesson, while younger children can perform role plays.

Different Ways Dad Can Be Involved

  • Dad could be the Bible teacher for your home school.
  • Dad and Mom could share the Bible teaching responsibility.
  • Dad could teach a portion of the lesson before leaving for work, or follow up with review at suppertime.
  • Dad could be responsible for any portion of the curriculum (lesson, application, workbook/notebook, or Growing in Faith Together/Parent Resource Page.
  • Dad could be responsible for the memory verse teaching and review.
  • Dad can make practical application of the lesson in real life.

Scheduling Recommendations

A significant advantage of using the material in a home school setting is that the material can be presented in smaller increments for maximum comprehension and spiritual impact. Therefore, we suggest presenting the material over the course of several days. Below are a few plans to consider:

Two-Day Option

  • Day 1: Present the lesson and assign the memory verse.
  • Day 2: Review the lesson, discuss the Application questions, and complete the student workbook/journal.

Three-Day Option

  • Day 1: Present the lesson and assign the memory verse.
  • Day 2:Review the lesson, discuss the Application questions, and complete
    the student workbook/journal.
  • Day 3: Choose an additional activity from the Lesson, Parent (or Growing in Faith Together) Page, or Appendix section.

Five-Day Option

  • Day 1: Present the lesson and assign the memory verse.
  • Day 2: Review the lesson and discuss the Application questions.
  • Day 3: Complete the student workbook/journal.
  • Day 4: Choose an additional activity from the Lesson, Parent (or Growing in Faith Together) Page, or Appendix section.
  • Day 5: Create a simple test or quiz, have a sharing and prayer time, or think of a way to apply the lesson by ministering to someone else.

What is a Team Leader? (Part 2)

Fall Gear Up

This is the fourth in a series of posts to help you prepare your staff, volunteers, classroom, and parents for fall Sunday School.

Jan Golias has served as Team Leader in a Sunday School classroom for over 15 years. We asked her a few questions about the role of Team Leader and her experience in the classroom.

Q: What challenges do you face while serving as team leader?

Team Leader

A: It is really important for the church to partner with parents, working together to see faith grow in their children. One of the biggest challenges I face is helping the small group leaders connect with parents to build that partnership.

Some strategies I use to overcome this is to introduce parents to small group leaders when the children are being picked up. I also invite parents to help in the classroom as a substitute small group leader or with a craft. I encourage small group leaders to take the initiative to call or write parents, and the children in their group, during the year.

Q: Can you give one or two examples of how you encourage your team?

Each week I send an email to my team to relay practical details for Sunday and to encourage their hearts as they study the lesson. I usually share a few verses, song lyrics or an excerpt from a devotional or sermon that relates to the word we are studying that week.

I also host a few events during the year to help us get to know each other. Sometimes we will meet at someone’s home for potluck or the ladies on my team meet at a coffee shop for fellowship.

Q: You’ve been involved in ministry to children for a long time. Are there any specific moments or experiences that stand out that you would like share in order to encourage others?

There are many special moments, but a few that stand out are these:

  • One year we had a special needs boy in our class who needed surgery on his legs. It was a joy to have him, along with his parents and our children’s pastor, join our team for a special time of prayer before his surgery.
  • I assign each of my small groups a child from one of our missionary families who is also in first grade. Throughout the year the small group prays for and writes to this individual. It is always a delight when they write back or visit our class when they are on furlough. This summer we had two children come home after Sunday school was finished, so we had a special open house for them to meet the children who are praying for them—it was a big blessing to the missionary families.
  • One year, when I was out of town for a week, my team asked the kids and some of the parents to write me notes of appreciation for serving as team leader—that was such a surprise and encouragement to me.
  • Each week, it is a joy to hear children saying verses and praising God. I love praying for them and I am blessed to see God working in their lives.

Read What is a Team Leader? (Part 1) where Jan describes her role as Team Leader and shares some of her favorite aspects of serving in this role.

Setting Your Goals Beyond “Something”

Ministry leaders and parents: Here is a word from David Michael reminding us about the importance of being “vision-” oriented rather than activity-oriented.

See the full seminar here.

Fall Gear Up: Let’s Pray!

Fall Gear Up

This is the third in a series of posts to help you prepare your staff, volunteers, classroom, and parents for fall Sunday School.

At our 2013 Conference we were amazed at the number of comments we received regarding one seminar in particular: Bud Burk’s teaching on Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer. Listen to what people had to say:

God stirred my own heart in so many ways. One great challenge was PRAYER—Bud Burk’s workshop on Utter Dependency on God.

All the seminars I attended were so so good! Especially the seminar about the importance of prayer by Bud…

The most Spirit driven, led and empowered seminar that I attended was on “prayer” by Bud Burk. He was filled with passion, zeal, and love for intimacy and communion through prayer with Jesus.
I LOVE THE book that he wrote

That last comment was shared by Carrie Christopher, who serves as Kids Director at Terra Nova Church in Troy, New York. We asked her to share how Bud’s seminar and his booklet have impacted her life and ministry.

This resource has truly encouraged, engaged and sparked my own heart to humbly seek Jesus’ communion through unceasing prayer. This is not just a resource for those toiling in Children’s Ministry, but for anyone seeking Jesus’ heart. This resource focuses on the dependence on the word of God, and our efforts to abide in His loving presence through prayer. I must admit this is perhaps one of the greatest truth-breathed, Christ-exalting books I have ever read! In Bud’s valiant efforts, he emphasizes prayer as a means to commune, worship, and testify to the everlasting love of Christ.

In our children’s ministry efforts, I think we can all agree, that we can easily fall into the temptation of reliance on one’s self, and our sinful yearning to abide in a measurement of ministry success by the work of our flesh. Bud encourages us as Christ-exalters that by no means should any of us continue in our fleshly efforts. For as Bud points out, John 15:5 states, “For apart from me you can do nothing.” Bud brings in Christ-exalting evidence from the word of God, that we are to first seek His presence in prayer and then we shall see the work of Christ’s hand upon us.

I completely agree with Bud’s call to be a praying people to further engage the next generation’s hearts, minds and souls to love our Christ almighty. How can we expect Christ to work through the hands of the entrusted ministries that He has generously given to us, if we aren’t a people of prayer? My heart is leaping for joy at the word of God filled in this resource. This isn’t a resource that is based on the will of the flesh, but instead on the will of the Father, emphasizing Christ’s desire to be intimately one with His people.

Prayer Booklet

This book gives 11 opportunities for prayer in the classroom. I was inspired by all of the Spirit-led ideas to incorporate prayer in our Sunday School classes. In fact, I am praying that through these practical ideas that Bud provides, that the Lord would raise up a generation of prayer warriors within our church.

Bud encourages us to create an “On Watch” prayer group. By God’s grace our team of children’s ministry leaders/volunteers gathered to pray for our children. It was an amazing act of His grace, that by power of the Holy Spirit, He actually showed us how to pray for the children. Giving us specific words, and burdens for them! Our leaders were praying unexpected prayers, and in the process we heard the intercessory heart of Christ for this next generation, which brought each of us closer to Him.

This resource absolutely will not collect dust on my bookshelf, but will be one that I refer to frequently. I am fervently looking forward to rereading this book to be swept away in the wind of the Holy Spirt’s desire for us to abide. Praise be to Jesus, He has already filled my heart with wisdom on who to purchase copies for and on how to integrate the content of the booklet into our teacher training.

Carrie Christopher
Terra Kids Director
Terra Nova Church

You can listen to Bud’s seminar (MP3), read the notes (PDF), or purchase the booklet in print or electronic format.

Fall Gear Up: What is a Team Leader? (Part 1)

Fall Gear Up

This is the second in a series of posts to help you prepare your staff, volunteers, classroom, and parents for fall Sunday School.

Jan Golias has served as Team Leader in a Sunday School classroom for over 15 years. We asked her a few questions about the role of Team Leader and her experience in the classroom.

Q: Jan, how would you describe your role as a Team Leader?

A: As a team leader in a first grade Sunday school class, I focus on showing Christ’s love to my team. (My team consists of two teachers (co-teaching the lessons), one worship leader, seven small group leaders, and two helpers, all of whom work together to serve a class of 30-35 first graders.)

I also encourage the team to show Christ to the children in our class as they lead worship, teach the lesson or lead a small group discussion. We use The ABCs of God curriculum which teaches the children to ask “Who is God?”, “What is God like?” and “How should I act towards God?” as they learn an attribute of God for each letter of the alphabet (i.e., A is for Almighty, B is for Bountiful, C is for Creator, etc.).

During the week, I communicate the plan for Sunday to my team, organize and prepare the classroom so it is ready when they arrive on Sunday morning, decorate the room with signs and pictures to remind the children of the attributes they are learning, arrange substitute teachers/small group leaders when needed and most importantly, pray for both my team and the children in my class throughout the week.

On Sunday mornings, I fill a number of roles:

  • I lead the team prayer time
  • I greet children as they arrive
  • I connect with parents
  • I lead announcements and prayer time before the lesson
  • I support my team by answering questions or getting supplies
  • I help with discipline during the lesson (as needed)
  • I encourage Scripture memory by planning group memory and review activities, as well as presenting awards when children have reached memory milestones
  • I spend time visiting small groups so I can get to know the children more

I also look for opportunities to help my team get to know one other, pray for each other and encourage one other both on Sundays and outside the classroom.

Classroom Prayer

Jan leads the students in a group worship & prayer time.

Q: What do you consider the best part of being a Team Leader?

There are so many things I love about being a team leader. Here are a few highlights:

  • I love working together with my team and helping them to serve effectively in their respective roles on Sunday morning. I also enjoy finding ways to serve them outside of the classroom.
  • It is a joy to hear the teacher teach and watch the kids as they listen, understand and respond to the truths being taught. Big truths like “God is incomprehensible, he is more than we can fully understand”.
  • It is wonderful to worship God alongside first graders who sing “big church” songs with their whole hearts. One year I had a boy who most would call rambunctious (to put it mildly), but when we started singing he would close his eyes and truly worship.
  • I am so encouraged when I listen to children recite memory verses. There was a boy in my class with some disabilities. He would not always get the words perfect but he loved to memorize Scripture and he was always a willing volunteer to recite verses in class.
  • I enjoy helping first graders memorize the books of the Bible. What a joy it is to have a child or even a group of 15 children come up to the front of the class to be prayed for and receive a prize after saying either the Old or New Testament books.
  • I love seeing former students around church, saying hi and giving them a hug—in a large church this is always special. This year I was able to attend a graduation open house for a young man who was in my small group many years ago—what a privilege to see what God has done in his life!
  • The best part of team leading is faithfully serving where you believe God wants you to and knowing that he is working in and through you to share the good news of Jesus with these young hearts!

Watch for Part 2 of this series when Jan will share ideas for encouraging your team, dealing with challenges in the classroom, and special moments she has experienced.

Have You Considered Intergenerational Studies?

12 Benefits of Intergenerational Studies

The term “intergenerational” conjures up all kinds of meanings—and all kinds of misunderstandings.  First of all, intergenerational does not mean “dumbing down material so that children can understand it but the adults are bored.” But it also does not mean “teaching a normal adult class with the hope that the children present may gain a tidbit.”

Rather, intergenerational teaching consciously takes into account that there are learners of different ages and experiences present in the classroom and seeks to teach the hearts of all. This is beneficial to adults and children alike, because the situation provides opportunities for both generations to understand the material differently and benefit from a different perspective.  The young learn from the old, and the old learn from the young.

A Question for Every Parent: Is My Child a Christian?


This question is the title of a great article by Brian Croft posted at The Gospel Coalition’s website.
Here are some important highlights from the article:

As parents, we all wrestle with how to answer this question, and I’ve found there are usually two extremes that need to be avoided. The first is made worse by a lack of discernment shown in many churches when they routinely extend altar calls to 4- or 5-year-olds, ask them to raise their hands if they love Jesus, and then baptize them as converted followers of Christ.

The second is often a reaction against the carelessness of the first. This extreme prevents both parents and also pastors from being willing to affirm a child’s conversion until they are adults, independent of their parent’s authority and care. While reluctance on both counts is somewhat warranted, I believe a middle ground must be approached in order to discern clear biblical evidence that a child, teenager, or young adult has become a new creature in Christ.


Parents and Teachers: Good Curriculum is Not Enough

As much as we care about good, God-centered, Christ-exalting curriculum at Children Desiring God, the curriculum itself is only a tool. The heart of the one using the tool is of utmost importance, too. Here are some wise words from Tedd and Margy Tripp:

Our homes are the laboratory of life for our children. They will believe that Christian faith is the genuine article if we know God—not just know about God. As children grow to young adulthood in our churches, they are searching for a faith that has warmth and vitality of close relationship with the living God, and the sure footing of sound doctrine that will stand the storms of life. Relationship with God is the passionate assurance that the Sovereign God of the Bible can be known by his people in all the experiences of life. Our relationship with God will beckon our children to draw near to him as their source of comfort and rest.
(Instructing a Child’s Heart, copyright 2008, page 29)


Page 1 of 212»