For many, the term “systematic theology” sounds scary, too weighty, or maybe even boring. And a book with that title doesn’t seem like it should be included in a list of “must have” resources for people who minister to children. But in my years of working with children, and as a parent, I have found the book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Dr. Wayne Grudem to be one of the most helpful books I own. That is why at CDG we are all in agreement that every parent and teacher should have this valuable resource, or the abridged Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith . Why do we so highly recommend these two books? Here are a few reasons:
Halloween is fast upon us. In the United States, the celebration of Halloween now rivals Christmas in the amount of money spent per household. As a child, I was one of the many excited, costumed children who went through the neighborhood collecting a sack full of candy…I’m not so sure my parents were so excited to have their four kids return home with a year’s worth of sugar! But when I became a parent, my husband and I made a major shift in how we view Halloween. We started asking questions like: “How should we view Halloween from a biblical perspective? Are there any practices we should refrain from? Are there ways in which our participation could be a light in a dark world?”
No, the title is not a mistake. We can encourage biblical literacy among the youngest babies in our care. How so? First of all, babies can begin to learn (absorb) important Bible “skills,” such as the skill of hearing and listening to the words of the Bible and its key themes. This can be done by doing the following:
In the past 10 years or so, there has been a healthy reevaluation of how churches do youth ministry. Increasingly, the focus has turned to the importance of parents in the spiritual discipleship of their children. In this helpful seven-minute video posted at The Gospel Coalition, three youth ministers discuss the topic “Don’t Outsource Your Kids to Youth Group.” An interesting statistic noted at the beginning of the video states: “Seventy percent of kids who go through youth ministry will not continue with the church after high school.”
How do you think of the Bible? Is it law, condemnation, warning, guilt, threats and judgment? Or, is it God’s merciful and gracious revelation for fallen, broken humanity? The Bible provides in God-inspired, rich literary textures, the story of creation, the Fall, the incarnation, redemption and hope through the life and death of Jesus Christ, and a glorious second coming of Jesus to establish the new heavens and new earth.
Children Desiring God in “Liceo Cristiano Rev. Juan Bueno” Christian Schools
One of the parents in our Christian school (Escuela Cristiana Oasis) is the Christian Education Director of a network of Christian schools called “Liceos Cristianos Rev. Juan Bueno,” which are part of the Assemblies of God and are spread throughout Latin America. In El Salvador, they have 37 schools and approximately 6,000 students enrolled. This dear brother has been greatly moved as he saw God’s work in his own children, who attend our Christian school and were being taught about God using CDG materials. He asked us to consider working to bring CDG to the schools he represents. God opened the door and gave us the grace to print CDG student workbooks in El Salvador for ease of distribution, and to bless all those children. The receptiveness within the Christian schools was great, so much so that they asked us to accompany them in their monthly training meetings with their teachers, so that we could present the vision of the centrality of God in every lesson (versus the centrality of man), and also provide some practical teaching tips for using CDG. The teachers clung to this vision eagerly, and the Word is been taught freely. It is our joy to see how the children have eagerly received it as well.
Children Desiring God in Guatemala
In recent days I received a call, asking me to meet with the directors of the Association of Christian Schools in Guatemala (about 30 schools), again from the Assemblies of God. These brothers and sisters from Guatemala were deeply moved by the testimony of what God had been doing in the Liceo Cristiano schools in El Salvador. We were overjoyed to see the hunger and willingness of our Guatemalan brothers, to the point that they traveled to El Salvador by bus (5-6 hours) for the sole purpose of holding this meeting. The meeting ended at approximately 7 p.m., at which time they climbed back on the bus and returned to Guatemala, something that is extremely dangerous in Central American countries. Our prayer is that the Lord, by His grace, will grant that we can serve our Guatemalan brothers to the best of our abilities, and that many more children would be reached by the truth of seeing God’s glory through His revelation of Himself in Scripture.
Children Desiring God in El Salvador
In 2003, we began using Children Desiring God in the Sunday school classes of our church, Iglesia Cimiento Estable. It was an answer to our prayers, because we were yearning for material that could lead our children to know God, to stand in awe of His greatness, and to enjoy all His wonders. We began teaching children in our church, then in our Christian school, Escuela Cristiana Oasis. We have approximately 570 students currently using CDG in Spanish in the school, ranging from preschool to high school. Using these curricula brought about significant changes in the lives of the children, so much so that we were able to witness how their hearts began to be softened and inclined to God, seeking to experience Him in everyday life. The parents of our students also began to notice a significant change in their children, and many of them sought us out and began to attend our church, yearning for good, healthy teaching of the truth of Scripture they were learning alongside their children through the Parent Resource Pages sent to them each week.
Children Desiring God Conference in Mexico City, Mexico
By God’s grace, in July of 2013, my wife and I were given the privilege to host a Children Desiring God conference in Mexico City titled “Passing on a God-centered Legacy to the Next Generation,” as part of our visit to Iglesia Cristiana Bíblica, a church that God, by His grace, allowed us to plant some years ago. A total of 150+ pastors, Christian school principals, and teachers attended the conference. They were extremely thankful and receptive as they began to understand and consider the call that the Lord has given His people to tell of His wonders to the next generation. They were eager to use CDG materials in their Christian schools and Sunday schools.
I make my way down the stairs and out the door of the downtown Minneapolis offices of Children Desiring God–get in my car, and begin the 45-mile-drive home. At about mile 20, I reach the bridge over the Minnesota River and notice the freshness coming through the air vent. Across the river, the city skyline gives way to an expansive view of colorful forests and native Minnesota grasses swaying in the autumn breeze. But the really good part is still to come . . . At last, I make the turn onto our country road for the last four miles to my home and there, for as far as my eyes can see, is the harvest. Golden fields of corn and soybeans stand waiting for the farmer to gather in their bounty. I find myself thinking about last spring when I watched this farmer faithfully labor, with skill I’m sure he learned from his boyhood, to plow his fields, plant the seed, fertilize and cultivate the rows–and now, I rejoice with him in the reward of all his efforts. I think about the reliance on God the farmer must have for the fruitful outcome of his labors. And, then, my thoughts turn to Jesus and I hear his words to me, “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, see that the fields are ripe to harvest. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. (more…)