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Summer Sowing with Backyard Bible Clubs

Truth78 // Summer Sowing with Backyard Bible Clubs

My backyard looks like a barren arctic landscape. It’s hard to imagine planting a garden here when it’s currently buried under 18 inches of new April snow. But spring will come—eventually. God controls the times and seasons. He is faithful! Soon this lifeless looking space will burst forth in a myriad of beautiful colors. How? I will go out and sow seed, water and care for it, and God will bring the growth. And yet, these plants will fade and die come winter, ushering in another season of barrenness.

But there is an infinitely better seed for sowing; one that can be sown in your own backyard this summer. This seed has the ability bring about and spread eternal joy in your neighborhood—God’s Word! Truth78’s Backyard Bible Club (BYBC) curricula are designed for just such seed sowing in your neighborhood. Read on to find out more.

What is a Backyard Bible Club? How is it different than Vacation Bible School?

A Backyard Bible Club is simply a new twist on an old idea; namely, a new twist on a traditional Vacation Bible School program. VBS usually takes place for a week’s duration, during the summer, at a local church or other designated location and is organized and led by the children’s director along with volunteers. Most often the focus of the VBS is evangelistic: Creating an appealing environment for welcoming children from non-Christian homes in order to expose them to the Gospel. A BYBC shares this latter goal but uses a different venue for doing so. Instead of taking place at the local church, the BYBC is located at homes of church members, in their backyards (or front yards), and is led by these same members who have been equipped and trained by their church.

There are several reasons we believe a BYBC is strategic. Here are just a few:

  • An increasing number of people are completely un-churched. Therefore, they may be less willing to send their children to an actual “church” event. On the other hand, most Christians already have some level of positive involvement with the parents and children in their own neighborhoods. A BYBC takes advantage of these existing relationships and seeks to build upon them. Therefore, a BYBC helps foster a long-term, relational model of evangelism that can provide ongoing interaction with both parents and children. Unbelievers can see the Gospel modeled and lived out in the lives of their Christian neighbors.
  • Because a BYBC is not centralized in one location, it can be conducive to a local church’s larger mission of engaging the community—reaching unbelievers close to where they live. Thus, unbelievers learn to identify “the church” as not mainly a building but as a people—a people who trust and follow Jesus, not just on Sunday, but every day of the week.
  • A traditional VBS program is labor intensive for both church staff and volunteers. By design, a BYBC is smaller by nature, more flexible in its structure, can accommodate a greater diversity of schedules, and distributes the work among a greater number of members. Furthermore, a BYBC offers individual families within the church an excellent way to minister together. Every member of the family can participate in a meaningful way.
  • Most VBS curricula is not only expensive but also requires extensive set-up and preparation. Much of the expense and preparation is geared toward lots of “bells and whistles”: exciting visual elements, fun activities, crafts, food, etc. While a BYBC does include some of these in limited measure, the focus of the time is given to communicating the life-giving message of God’s Word and encouraging thoughtful interaction with the Word.

Truth78 Backyard Bible Club Curricula

Truth78 // Things HiddenWe currently have the following curricula available for BYBC. All of them are designed for school-aged children and have an evangelistic focus. These curricula can be used in any order, and may also be used for a traditional VBS.

Wisdom Calls Aloud
Once we are free from the fear of God’s wrath, our fear of Him is the beginning of gaining wisdom.

The Call of God 
It is the duty of every human to respond to God in faith and belief, and yet, every person is dependent on the work of God in redemption.

Things Hidden 
Exploring the Kingdom parables Jesus used in order to conceal the kingdom from those who doubted and explain it to those who would believe.

God Always Wins 
No matter individual circumstances and challenges, God’s sovereign wisdom, power, and purpose show the Greatness of God in Salvation.

Getting started – Basic questions and answers regarding using our BYBC resources

1. How often do Backyard Bible Clubs meet and when do they meet?

Most clubs run five sessions. These can be held in the morning, afternoon, or early evening. Most people hold the sessions in a one-week period (i.e. Monday through Friday) but they can also be held once-a-week for five weeks. The sessions can be held inside or outside.

2. What is the duration of each session?

The sessions can be from 1-3 hours long, depending on how many activities you would like to include.

3. Who should be invited?

Neighborhood children, friends of your children, and children of relatives—especially children you will have continued contact with.

4. What age children should be included?

The material is recommended for kindergarten through 6th grade. 

5. How many children can be included?

The number of children you invite should take into account the number of helpers you have and the size of your yard and/or home.  A recommended ratio would be one adult for every six-to-eight children. The younger the children, the smaller the adult/child ration should be.

6. What does a typical session look like?

  • Opening activity
  • 30-minute interactive lesson
  • Application discussion done in smaller groups that may be separated into age groupings
  • Additional activities: Games, crafts, songs, snacks, etc.

7. What roles (people) are needed for hosting a Backyard Bible Club?

For each session you will need people to assume one or more of the following roles:

  • A host to provide the location
  • A teacher who prepares and presents the Bible lesson
  • Adults to facilitate small group discussion
  • Volunteers to prepare and help with additional activities

We strongly suggest the above be done by a committed team of people working together. This may be one or more families working together, a small group from church, etc.

8. Is there any outreach to the parents of the children or any other follow-up with the children?

Each day a parent take-home sheet is provided giving a brief summary of the lesson, the memory verse, and something to think about. Also, we strongly recommend that you (and your church) consider giving each child a Bible or other Bible resource to take home. Here are some family-friendly resources that would introduce parents and children to some basic truths of the Christian faith:

9. Is conversion the goal of the Backyard Bible Club?

The goal is to introduce children to spiritual truth and provide an opening for ongoing spiritual discussion with children and their parents. Each of our BYBC curricula present essential Gospel truths and encourage children toward a right, genuine response to those truths. However, we do not overly press children toward a profession of trust in Christ. Rather, we emphasize planting seeds of the Gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit would bring about the fruit of faith in the lives of the children, and pursuing an ongoing relationship with the children and their parents.

10. How can the church help facilitate Backyard Bible Clubs?

  • Communicate the vision behind the BYBC strategy. Ideally, this should be done early in late winter or early spring to give your members time to understand and embrace the vision.
  • Equip and train those who want to participate in a BYBC.
    • Provide all the necessary curriculum components.
    • Offer practical training in how to host a BYBC and effectively use the materials.
    • Facilitate and coordinate networking, matching volunteers with their desired roles.
    • If possible, offer financial assistance for any additional costs associated with activities, snacks, crafts, etc.
    • Consider providing a Bible resource for the BYBC hosts to give to the children who will be participating.
    • Commit to praying for each BYBC as it occurs.

 

 

Vision-Oriented Children’s and Youth Ministry

Truth78 // Vision Oriented Children's and Youth Ministry

In our many years of mountain hiking, my family has only once experienced feeling hopelessly lost. We became surrounded by thick forest between two mountain buttes.  Although we continued to walk and make some progress, we did a lot of backtracking—wasting valuable time. It wasn’t until we emerged from the thick trees that we were able to gain perspective and see our desired final destination—a point in the far distance. Keeping that point constantly before us enabled us to complete the hike without further confusion and backtracking. Our hike became “vision-oriented.” It made all the difference.

Yet, too often, we tend to get “lost in the trees” in children’s and youth ministry. How so? By focusing primarily on short-term goals for the coming year. What curricula should we use this year? What devotional materials should we recommend to parents? What special activities do we want for the youth this year? Etc. All of these are good questions to address, but without a larger vision, you may find your children’s ministry going in various directions from year to year which may result in serious gaps in the children’s spiritual instruction.

At Truth78 we believe that it is crucial to have “vision-oriented” ministry to children and youth. A vision-orientation considers where you are going—clarifying your goals—and then carefully develops and implements an intentional plan in pursuing those goals. Parents, pastors, ministry leaders, and all who care about the faith of the next generation must have a clear target in view so we know where to aim when we are interacting with our children and youth. No being “lost in the trees” from year to year.

That is why, along with our name change, we felt it important to clarify our vision. It serves to orient all that we do.

At Truth78 our vision is that the next generations know, honor, and treasure God, setting their hope in Christ alone, so that they will live as faithful disciples for the glory of God.

If your heart resonates with the above vision, we invite you to partner with us in prioritizing faithful biblical instruction to the next generations. Our mission is to help both church and home develop a comprehensive and effective plan of biblical instruction and discipleship.

With that in mind, Truth78 is excited to provide some new resources to better understand and implement a vision-oriented approach to ministering to children and youth.

 

Videos  

Truth78 // Foundations for God-Centered Ministry to the Next GenerationPastor David Michael and Sally Michael explain the foundations and key components of vision-oriented ministry in these newly recorded, 15 minute videos. A must-see for parents, church leaders, and ministry volunteers.

  1. A Vision for the Discipleship of the Next Generation
  2. A Vision for God-Centered, Gospel-Focused Teaching for the Next Generations 
  3. A Vision for Teaching the Word of God 
  4. A Vision for Encouraging Faith in Christ 

 

Viewbook

This booklet explains the importance of vision-oriented ministry as well as six key components for its implementation. It also presents Truth78’s curricula scope and sequence and an overview of other available resources for both church and home. A great introduction to Truth78.


Download Viewbook

Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations

Truth78 // Indestructible JoyAvailable in print or free e-book download.

Presents a vision of indestructible joy for the next generations—a joy that can’t be destroyed in the best, or worst, of times—a joy that can withstand the temptations, the trials, and the persecutions of the world. Each chapter is drawn from messages given over the past 15 years at the national conferences for Children Desiring God (now Truth78). John Piper, R. Albert Mohler Jr., Russell Moore, Bruce Ware, and more encourage parents and teachers to proclaim the whole counsel of God to nurture the faith of the next generations.

 

 

Why “Truth78”?

Truth78 // Why Truth78

Yes, it’s official! Children Desiring God has a new name: Truth78. But in all honesty, I need to confess that this surprisingly “simple” name did not jump out at us quickly. Our leadership and staff spent months considering dozens of possibilities, but slowly, we all became convinced that Truth and 78 best represented our ministry’s heart, vision, and mission.

TruthThese words from John Piper, spoken at our 2011 National Conference, reflect why we landed upon “Truth” in our new name.

If one of the greatest tragedies for children in our age is the attitude that there is no such thing as truth, or that it doesn’t matter, then one of the greatest blessings we can give to children is the passionate conviction that there is such a thing as truth and that it matters at every point in life and eternally.

What is the sum of truth we want the next generation to be passionate about? The answer is: the Bible, with Jesus Christ the incarnate Word at the center. This is the sum of Truth.

The God who made everything, knows everything, controls everything, and has a purpose for everything—this God has spoken to us. He has not left us without the revelation of his will. He has not left us without wisdom. He has not left us without unfathomable knowledge, that none of us ever exhausts. He has not left us without a full and sufficient revelation of the way of salvation, the way of everlasting joy. He has not left us without a way to measure the truth claims of every life-shaping question we face. This is simply a priceless legacy for our children.

(From the message, The Sum of Your Word Is Truth, March 20, 2011.)

What about the 78? If you have ever heard Pastor David Michael share his vision for the faith of the next generations, he often (almost always, in fact) refers to Psalm 78. Here is an excerpt by David and Sally Michael from “A Heart for Ministering to Parents and Children,” a vision booklet written when David assumed his new role as a Pastor for Children and Family Discipleship back in 1996. (more…)

When the Spring Storms Blow

Children Desiring God Blog // When the Spring Storms Blow

Spring is for warmer days, longer light, budding trees, and…storms! As a young child, I remember being terrified of storms. The winds, lightning, thunder, and hail made me a nervous wreck. The sound of a severe storm warning siren would send me running to the basement where I would huddle in a corner. Thankfully, a storm no longer strikes the same kind of terror in me because…

For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatever the LORD pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from his storehouses.Psalm 135:5-7

As a child, I wish I had had these truths spoken into my life. A foundation of God’s providence over nature serves as a sure stronghold for enduring the storms that come our way. To that end, here is a short story from Noel Piper that you could share and talk about with your children and students:

Hiding from God’s Storm

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Chicken Soup for Children’s Ministry

Children Desiring God Blog // Chicken Soup for Children's Ministry

I don’t know about your family, but our family has been hit hard with the cold and flu season this year. We are tired and worn out! So I really appreciated the day my good friend Linda showed up at our door with some homemade chicken soup. Oh how good and soothing that soup was! Her thoughtfulness made us feel very loved and cared for. Encouragement from others goes a long way.

In children’s ministry, there are times we, too, need “chicken soup.” We need the “food” of biblical encouragement—words that soothe our souls, cheer our hearts, and build up our strength and resolve to persevere, especially during the hard times. We need to be reminded that the work we are doing, when done for the Lord and in His power, is never in vain. (more…)

Don’t Toss Aside the Hull and Mast

Children Desiring God Blog // Don't Toss Aside the Hull and Mast

One of the things I’ve noticed about children’s and youth ministry in the past few years is a renewed and increased evangelistic impulse—an urgency to teach children about Jesus and the Gospel so that they might be saved. This is a wonderful change from the all-too-common emphasis on Gospel-less moralism of the past. My concern, however, is that sometimes for the sake of urgency—wanting our children to get saved as soon as possible (a really good desire)—we may be minimizing the very foundation on which that salvation depends. I found this illustration, from an article over at 9Marks, to be really helpful:

Let’s say, for the sake of illustration, that you are on a ship sailing to a faraway town to warn the people of impending doom. If you don’t get there in time, everyone dies. Needless to say, you want your ship to sail as fast as possible. You avoid any excess cargo that might slow your progress. You don’t waste time worrying about clean decks or polished brass. The urgency of the task requires you to operate with efficiency and leanness. (more…)

Dripping Bible for the Next Generation

Children Desiring God Blog // Dripping Bible for the Next Generation

Recently, my husband and I were driving with four of our grandchildren. While waiting at a particularly long traffic light, Grandma (me) had finally had enough. “Stupid traffic light!” I muttered, none too softly. A while later, we sat at another traffic light. This time I kept my mouth shut. But in the backseat, 2-year-old Nate filled the void, saying, “Stupid traffic light!” He went home knowing a new phrase to say when waiting for traffic lights. (Won’t his mommy and daddy be glad!) He simply heard and repeated what Grandma had said. Grandma has a problem. Grandma spoke out of a grumbling, sinful heart.

Imagine for a moment if I had said something like this instead:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “give thanks in all circumstances;” even for long waits at traffic lights,for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (more…)

Communicating to Children the Self-Sufficiency of God

Children Desiring God Blog // Communicating to Children the Self-Sufficiency of God

Children intuitively know that they need many things in order to exist. So it is relatively easy to teach them that it is God who ultimately provides for these needs. What’s more difficult to communicate to them is the self-sufficiency of God—that He needs absolutely nothing! He alone existed from all eternity, fully complete in Himself.

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.—Acts 17:24-25

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When a Child Goes Astray

Children Desiring God Blog // When A Child Goes Astray

Long ago and far away, I had this little equation in my parenting mind: If we do all the right spiritual ABCs with our children, then God will bring about saving faith in their young lives (by 7 years old)…and just like that, in no time at all, our children will become faithful, fruitful followers of Jesus, doing great things for the kingdom by the time they are 12! That’s the way it’s supposed to work, right? Needless to say my little “salvation equation” for my children was naïve, to say the least! Real-life experience showed a more complicated path. Sometimes that path was confusing, heartbreaking, and even terrifying.

Here are some words from Kim Shay that I found really heartfelt and hope-filled for parents who are experiencing concern over their child’s spiritual condition:

In a perfect world, Christian parents would teach their children the gospel, and it would be embraced quickly, and without incident. Children would go seamlessly from childhood to godly adulthood without a blip on the screen.
As we know, we don’t live in a perfect world. And the reality is that good Christian parents raise children who give them some sleepless nights and break their hearts. I know what that is like. If you have children who never gave you a moment’s trouble, praise God for it! But for those of us who have had children who stray or struggle in their faith, it can be extremely painful. We feel shame and guilt. We may feel anger. But we must not despair. For those who may be in the midst of that kind of season, here are some thoughts.
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Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Children Desiring God Blog // Bible Reading Tips for Kids

Bible reading plans for kids are great resources to help your children develop the habit of daily Bible reading. (See last week’s post here.) But along with a reading plan, here is a crucial reminder from Sally Michael for you to share with your children before they begin:

…you can read the Bible with your mind only and walk away with just information. You may know a little more, but it hasn’t changed you. You can also read the words but harden your heart against their convicting and healing power.

We are blind to the truth in God’s Word. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we will read words but we won’t see spiritual truth. We are unable to open our hearts to the power of the Word of God. We desperately need God’s help.

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