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Reflecting on the Year’s Children’s and Youth Ministries

Reflecting on the Year's Children's and Youth Ministries

As we quickly come to the completion of another school year, it’s a good time to look back and evaluate our ministry experience with children and youth. One way to do this would be to gather your ministry teams together and talk through the following questions:

  • Was the Bible central in all of our teaching?
  • Was God the main focus of every lesson?
  • Was the Gospel proclaimed?
  • Was Jesus made much of in our classroom, and did we feel His abiding presence from week to week?
  • What evidences of grace have we seen God work in the lives of the children and youth in our classroom?
  • How has God caused me to personally grow this year as I have taught and led these students?
  • Have the students seen the love of Jesus through my demeanor, words, and actions?
  • Did I spend time in faithful prayer for myself, the other teachers, and my students?
  • What has been the greatest joy I’ve experienced this year in ministering to these students? Have I shared that joy with others for their benefit and God’s praise?
  • Have we established good lines of communication with the parents?
  • What has been my biggest challenge this year? Are there steps that I (and others) can take to help overcome this challenge?
  • What would I have wanted to do differently? Why?
  • Is there anything that we would want to communicate to the leadership?

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Living Out the Gospel at Home

Living Out the Gospel at Home

Parents, ponder this statement from Chap Bettis for a moment:

The first place we live out the gospel is in our homes.

A simple statement, yet amazingly profound and instructive—encouraging and convicting. For our children, how we live out the gospel at home will give them a lasting impression of what it means to be a sinner saved by grace and a disciple of Christ.

Bettis goes on to say:

If we’re honest, however, home is often the most challenging place to live out the gospel’s implications. We say things to our children that we would never say to anyone else. We express anger to our spouses that we hide from others. Laziness others don’t see is obvious to them. Family relationships, which God intended to be a blessing, can become a war zone. (more…)

“Let Them Come”—Help for Church and Parents

"Let Them Come"—Help for Church and Parents

The other night, my husband and I had dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. They made a special dinner and had the table set with the “fancy” tableware. But there was one hitch to this elegant dinner—4 children were included, too, our grandchildren, ages 1 to 5 years old. Let’s just say that the children put a distinctive twist on the ambiance of the meal. Even with all the challenges and distractions, we were glad they were there…It was a joyful mess! Their parents have employed a type of “system” for mealtime that helps both children and adults.

In previous posts, we have highlighted the amazing benefits for welcoming children into the corporate worship service. But let’s not gloss over some of the challenges. It’s a little like inviting a group of young children to a fine dining experience—some adjustments have to be made. This should be a loving, cooperative strategy involving both parents and church. Sometimes parents just need some practical help and resources. Sometimes that church needs to make a few adjustments and give the whole church community a vision for welcoming children. Below are some resources that we believe will be helpful: (more…)

Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship

Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship

It seemed like an eternity at the time—a frustrating eternity—to train our wiggly, always talking, 5-year-old son to sit quietly through a 90-minute worship service. But somehow we all lived through it, and slowly but surely he learned to not only sit and be quiet, but he also began to recall and ponder an amazing amount of the sermon teaching. In turn, this provided us with a springboard for further spiritual discussion and training in the home.

This leads to Pastor David Michael’s fourth benefit for welcoming children into the corporate worship service (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3):

  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

Bringing children into the worship service provides an opportunity for them to learn how to worship God and to discover the purpose for which they were created. Lord willing, not only will our children worship God here on earth, but will spend eternity doing so. (more…)

Inviting Children to Experience Worship of God

Inviting Children to Experience Worship of God

A while back, I shared this…

Recently, I had the great joy and privilege of holding my 8-month-old grandson in my arms during a family gathering. His big eyes were busy observing everything around him…

  • Family, other well-known faces, and strangers were seated all around him.
  • People were bowing their heads, with eyes closed, being very quiet.
  • A man up front, with his eyes closed, was talking earnestly.
  • Grandma stood up with everyone else and started singing, and some people raised their hands.
  • The man up front opened a book and read from it while everyone else listened.
  • A basket was passed around, and people put something in it.

As you have probably guessed, the “family” I am referring to is the family of Christ, gathering to worship the Lord together. Little baby Nate was being exposed to the Sunday morning corporate worship service—a crucial element of family life for every believer. Even at 8 months old, he is seeing and hearing the normal rhythms of life in the body of Christ. What a privilege to expose him to this at such a young age! (more…)

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Growing up, one the most important and regular features of our family life was dinnertime. Sitting down and eating together was a high priority. After the dinner prayer, and throughout the meal, conversation flowed as we shared the day’s experiences and a myriad of other topics. Along with the obvious nutritional necessity and benefits, it was a time of family love, laughter, encouragement, and more. I can’t imagine, as a child, being excluded from this central aspect of family life!

In an even more profound way, the corporate worship service is one of the most important and regular activities of the family of God. Here is how Pastor David Michael explains it:

  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.

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A Summer of Worshiping Together—Let the Children Come!

A Summer of Worshiping Together

Summer will be quickly upon us. It’s a time for families to experience a change of pace—an opportunity to explore a variety of adventures and activities with our children. Many churches also take advantage of this time to provide families and children with new ministry experiences. But here is something I would like both church and family to consider this summer: How about prioritizing and encouraging families together in worship this summer. Yes, the whole family—parents sitting along with their children (let’s say 4 years old and up as a reasonable goal) during the weekly corporate worship service.

For many churches, this is already the norm… but maybe there are parents who need some extra encouragement and practical help. Or, maybe your church has not encouraged this and you want to think through and revaluate that decision. In the next several posts, I will be highlighting helpful information from Pastor David Michael’s seminar, “’Let The Children Come To Me’ in Worship,” in which he articulated four benefits of having children experience the corporate worship service:

  • A Summer of Worshiping TogetherThere is spiritual benefit for children who participate.
  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.
  • It provides children with an intergenerational experience, and thus the opportunity to be influenced, and to benefit from the example of others, especially their parents.
  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

(more…)

Discipleship-Oriented Resources

Discipleship-Oriented Resources

Yesterday’s post pointed to the meaning of Christian discipleship in our parenting and teaching. With that in mind, it becomes extremely important to choose resources for the home and church that serve to foster discipleship.

At Children Desiring God, we want the next generations to be serious, passionate, joyful disciples of Christ, who are fully equipped and prepared to deny themselves, take up their cross and daily follow Jesus. To that end, our curricula emphasize a discipleship orientation that fosters life-long instruction in and practice of the Christian life. We aim to accomplish this through the following:

  • developing a carefully designed scope and sequence of teaching content that progressively moves children and youth toward greater spiritual growth.
  • using a relational, interactive teaching style in which the evidences of Christian discipleship are clearly communicated, visibly demonstrated, and faithfully encouraged.
  • intentionally providing resources and training for the home that promote and equip parents for their responsibility in discipling their children.

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What Do They SEE?

What Do They See?

Family devotions, Sunday school classes, catechism, Bible study, corporate worship services, mission projects—all important and helpful tools and means of instructing our children and students in the Christian faith. But there is a really crucial aspect we often don’t think about as much as we should. Consider the former list in light of these words:

Discipleship is the process whereby we seek to teach others the Word of God. Notice that the Great Commission is not only to teach people God’s commands, but to teach them to “observe” or “obey” all that He commanded. There is a world of difference between teaching someone everything the Lord commanded and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. One is through words, the other through a way of life. Teaching someone to obey God’s commands requires intentionality in the context of relationship throughout the span of a lifetime.   (more…)

Planning Events that Reinforce Your Vision

Planning Events that Reinforce Your Vision

Are you looking forward to planning some special events for your children’s and youth ministry this spring and summer? Here are some helpful reminders from Betty Dodge’s presentation, “Reinforcing the Vision with Events and Programs”:

  • Glorify God and increase joy in Him by planning events that:
    • …will display the glory of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1 Corinthians 10:31; 2 Corinthians 4:6).
    • …will cause His Word to dwell richly in His people by His Spirit (Colossians 3:16-17).
    • …deepen the relationship between Christ and His church, and build relationships within the believer’s household (Psalm 25:4, 14; Philippians 3:10).
    • …make disciples of Christ and work to bring them to maturity in Him (Colossians 1:28-29; Titus 2:3-8).

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