Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God
We know many of you are not able to join us in person at the National Conference this week, but we don’t want you to miss the wonderful training we will be hearing on teaching the whole counsel of God to children.
You are invited to join us on the conference LIVE STREAM!
For the very first time, Children Desiring God is providing you special, free access to the three Foundations of God-Centered Children’s Ministry sessions and all five plenary sessions. Watch the blog Thursday for the Live Stream link, or simply visit Children Desiring God.
You can also join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.
Don’t Forget to Reserve Your Conference Seminars!
We are excited to have are over 60 seminar options for you to choose from at our nation conference, including both classic favorites and brand new topics. You will be able to attend four seminars and receive practical training on the ins and outs of children’s ministry, teaching and parenting. Our incredible line up of seminar presenters include pastors, authors, teachers, children’s ministry leaders, youth pastors, parents, an engineer, missionary and college professor who are all passionate about teaching the next generation to set their hope in God…and equipping you to do you same.
Seminars seats are filling up quickly! If you are registered for the conference, be sure to reserve your seminars now to make sure you can attend your first choices. Seminar selections must be chosen by March 31.
Download the Scheduling Worksheet to help you determine your choices and plan your seminar schedule. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggested seminar tracks to get you started.
Not registered for the conference yet? Register today and save!
Hi, my name is Mark Vroegop and I am privileged to be the lead pastor at College Park Church in Indianapolis. I’m also privileged to be one of the plenary speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference coming up April 14–16.
The theme for the conference is really important. We will explore how to connect the whole counsel of God to the next generations. In the book of Acts, chapter 20, the apostle Paul said to the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God. What that means is that over a two and a half year period, Paul helped the people of Ephesus understand the significant realities of who and what God is, as communicated through the revealed Word of God. And it means that creation, the fall, redemption and restoration are key themes that are woven throughout all of Scripture.
The teachings of the Bible should not be viewed as little marbles in a bowl, but rather as a string of pearls all connected together. As it relates to children, it is incredibly important that they understand who God is as their creator, the nature of the fall, and that they are sinners. Then, that they would know the connectedness between their own sin and the need for a savior through Christ–and also that there is coming a day when Christ will return and restore everything that is wrong in the world and make it all right again–that Jesus is indeed coming again. So all of these themes–creation, fall, redemption and restoration–are part of the whole counsel of God. A child has to know that God is creator and that they are accountable. They have to know they are a sinner and that they need a savior.
You know, my wife has been teaching our kindergarten Sunday school class here at our church for a number of years. In particular, one of the lessons that she teaches is on the Ten Commandments. It is remarkable–when she comes home from teaching that very first lesson, she reports that when she has asked the children “How many of you know that you are sinners?”, invariably, the vast majority of them do not know that they are sinners. But you know what they do know? They do know that their brother or sister is a sinner. The reason we need the whole counsel of God is to help little children be convinced that they, in fact, are human beings who are in rebellion against God. What’s more, in order for them to know that, they need to know who God is and know the beauty of what the cross is all about. The Bible is more than just a collection of stories or an encyclopedia of biblical truth. It is theology stacked on theology stacked on theology stacked on theology. It is the whole counsel of God.
We are going to dig into that theme and see the significance of not only what it means for the Bible to be the whole counsel of God, but how vital it is that our children understand that truth from a very early age. I hope you will come and join us because this theme, this concept of the whole counsel of God, is vital for the health of the church, for the spiritual life of our children and because our culture needs the next generation of believers to understand the whole counsel of the Word of God.
We are excited to welcome Mark Vroegop as one of our keynote speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference. He will expound on this topic as he teaches on Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation. We are also thankful for the generosity of Mark’s church to host our conference and are excited for you to experience College Park Church’s hospitality. We hope you will join us April 14-16 in Indianapolis! Learn more and register now!
I once read a book in which the Christian author likened the method often used in the church for discipleship to a smorgasbord—various classes and small groups are offered for people to pick and choose from, mainly based on personal preferences, perceived needs, and “hot topics” of the day. His point was to urge the church to resist this tendency and strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy. Such a strategy takes into account and incorporates the whole counsel of God and builds in stages—precept-by-precept.
I wonder if we sometimes have a similar “smorgasbord tendency” when it comes to planning for and choosing curriculum for our various children’s and youth ministry classes: What seems good this year? What will the children like? What will peak their (or the teacher’s) interest?…I think we can, and must strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy—one that seeks to incorporate the whole counsel of God from nursery to high school.
What does this actually look like? To begin with, we believe that there are six basic elements or disciplines that should be included in this long-term strategy:
- A story-based chronological overview of the Bible, which introduces children to the main character of the Bible—God—and acquaints them with key people, places, and events.
- A biblical theology that focuses on the main storyline of the Bible, where God progressively reveals His redemptive purposes, which come to their complete fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
- Systematic theology that teaches foundational doctrines, which summarize the Bible’s teaching on various subjects.
- Moral instruction—the commands of Scripture, which communicate ethical instruction, guiding us in the righteous ways of God.
- An explicit presentation of the essential truths of the Gospel, leading to a clear understanding of saving faith.
- Bible study methods to provide the necessary tools for rightly reading and interpreting Scripture.
A strategic, long-term plan makes curriculum choices at the various grade levels with these basic elements or disciplines in mind. It asks questions such as: Over the span of nursery to high school, are our students receiving the whole counsel of God? Are we introducing these elements at age-appropriate levels? Does our overall strategy reflect a proper biblical balance?
If you long to explore this topic further and want practical help in structuring a plan for the children’s and youth ministries of your church, I would love to have you come to my seminar at our National Conference in April…
Making a Strategic Plan for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God
This seminar will present an overview for planning and implementing a scope and sequence in your children’s and youth ministry that serves to thoroughly acquaint your students with the whole counsel of God. Starting in the nursery years and moving through high school, we will explore options and strategic goals for various age groups.
As children’s ministry and youth pastors, teachers and parents, it is critical for us to not only teach children the Gospel, but to not shrink back from teaching them the whole counsel of God. John Piper helps us understand what this means:
Join us at the Children Desiring God National Conference where we will have the opportunity to spend three days together exploring this meaning further, discovering the glorious truths found with in the whole counsel of God, understanding the ramifications if our children do not understand the whole counsel of God and equipping each other to teach the whole counsel of God to children and youth. We look forward to welcoming back John Piper as one of our five keynote speakers to discuss Understanding the Whole Counsel of God: How Our Children Can Know the Bible is True.
John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminar. For over 30 years, John served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He’s the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available for free at desiringGod.org). John and his wife, Noël, have five children, Barnabas, Karsten, Benjamin, Abraham and Talitha, and twelve grandchildren.
Paul’s declaration in Acts 20:27, “. . . for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God,” are richly inspiring, yet deeply sobering words. Why inspiring? Why sobering? Let’s take the latter first.
These are deeply sobering words because they imply that, due to what is contained in “the whole counsel of God,” there may be sources of temptation to shrink from declaring to others the very content of these words. More specifically, to declare the whole counsel of God requires that we overcome both the fears of external resistance, and the deep discomfort of internal inclinations, that lead us to seek to avoid disapproval by others. In a word, we see that faithfulness to the whole counsel of God is an issue, at bottom, of the fear of God vs. the fear of man. Whose approval do we most long to receive? Whose opinion do we most value? Whose assessment weighs in heaviest in our own hearts and souls. (BTW, “most” and “heaviest” are important terms in these questions since it is simply impossible to care not at all—nor should we—about the opinions or assessments of others. So, the question is not whether we care about what others think, but whose opinion and assessment matters to us the very most! Here is a test of faithfulness to and worship of the true God vs. idolatry in the very ways we assess what others think about us).
But, why should this be? What is it about “the whole counsel of God” that would elicit such fears and deep discomforts? The answer is obvious once one considers the content of “the whole counsel of God” in contrast with the values, commitments, and moral sensibilities of the culture in which we live. That word of God in its fullness contains many teachings and truths that are at one and the same time, glorious, beautiful, humbling, strengthening, and awe- and hope-inspiring, to those who have the eyes of faith, and also deeply offensive, seemingly foolish, and fully at odds with the zeitgeist and wisdom of our culture as it divines what is good and right and fulfilling. Paul is conveying this notion when he speaks of the word of the cross as foolishness to those perishing but to us who are saved, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor 1:18-25). Again, he speaks of the gospel as emitting one aroma which to some is the fragrance of life, whereas to another it is the stench of death (2 Cor 2:14-17).
Because we live in a culture where what is truly (as God knows these to be) right, good, and wise is considered wrong, bad, and foolish, while what is truly (as God knows these to be) wrong, bad, and foolish is considered right, good, and wise – due to this sinful and Satanic (recall he excels in deception above all else) inversion of truth, faithfulness to proclaim the actual content of the Word of God is to invite scorn, ridicule, and rejection from the cultured despisers—Schleiermacher surely was correct here—of biblical religion. Hence, there will inevitably arise within our hearts, as with the heart of the Apostle Paul, a temptation, even a stubborn inclination, to “shrink from declaring” what that word actually says and teaches—a betrayal of the truth that Schleiermacher and a host of subsequent liberals have done right down to the Brian McClarens and Rob Bells of our day. So we are faced with one of the ultimate and most central questions of our lives as Christians and particularly as Christian ministers – will we fear man and so shrink, or will we fear God and so not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God? Choose this day whom you will serve. We cannot not serve both the Word of God and the wisdom of men.
But Paul’s words, “. . . for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God,” are also deeply inspiring words, for they call to mind the story of a remarkably faithful while violently opposed life lived for the cause of Christ and his gospel. Often when I read Paul’s description of the suffering he endured in his ministry of the gospel (see especially his record of affliction and opposition in 2 Cor 11:23-29) I call to mind also these words in Acts 20:27. There is a connection between the two that should be obvious to all. His was not the kind of affliction due to foolishness and sinfulness that Peter warns against (1 Pet 3:17b) but rather of the affliction that comes from the offense of the truth and doing what is right that Peter commends (1 Pet 3:13-17a). It was his very not shrinking from declaring the whole counsel of God that resulted in the massive opposition, suffering, hardship, and agony that Paul endured. Yet, because he knew with all of his heart that the truths which he taught and for which he suffered were life-giving and hope-building, he could suffer even with joy—recall this theme in his letter to the Philippians which he wrote from prison. Indeed, because of the inestimable glory of this truth, he could even consider the fullness of his own suffering as merely “momentary, light affliction” (2 Cor 4:17) in contrast with the eternal weight of glory awaiting all who knew and embraced the wonders of the truths he faithfully taught from the whole counsel of God. Incredible. Almost unbelievable. Yet, this indeed makes perfect sense because (but only because) Paul knew the words of truth he embraced as his own, the words of truth he proclaimed without compromise, the words of truth for which he suffered, were the very words of life.
Do you know the whole counsel of God as the very words of life? Do you uphold and embrace every aspect of the whole counsel of God as God’s own word and words, and therefore as true and right and glorious and good? Do you accept the inevitable opposition which comes with faithful proclamation of those words? May God grant us hearts like the Apostle Paul’s, to proclaim with joy what may bring us opposition, knowing that, in the end, we await the words “well done” from the One who embraced and proclaimed the truth most faithfully, and who, as a result, suffered most fully.
Bruce A. Ware
Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
We are excited to welcome Bruce Ware back for a third time as one of our keynote speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference. He will expound on these issues and help us answer these questions as he teaches on Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God. We hope you will join us April 14-16 in Indianapolis! Learn more and register now!
Yes! This is your last chance to save with the early bird discount! Join your fellow children and youth ministry pastors, leaders and volunteers at the Children Desiring God National Conference.
The conference is the perfect place for you and your ministry team to gather for practical training, spiritual encouragement and networking with other children’s ministry leaders.
Over the three day conference, you will experience five thought provoking keynote sessions exploring the importance of teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generations; chose from over 60 practical workshops covering every aspect of ministry to children, youth and parents; gain a Bible-based vision for children’s ministry; glean ideas from experienced pastors andSunday school leaders; and join others in worshiping our great God.
Early bird registration closes tonight, January 31, at 11:59 pm (CST)!
We can’t wait to meet you in April! Don’t forget to:
- Reserve you Seminar Selections. Use your confirmation code to log in and select the 4 seminars you want to attend.
- Make your travel arrangements. We have rooms set aside for attendees at a variety of area hotels as well as discount codes for airline tickets and car rentals.
- Join the Children Desiring God Facebook Group to get to know other attendees before the event. Feel free to connect here to find people to share travel arrangements.
What Are the Biggest Challenges Facing the Evangelical Church in 2016?
In a recent Ask Pastor John segment, John Piper shared his thoughts on the biggest challenges facing the evangelical church this year. Here is an excerpt:
…if you start at the beginning, the first and great commandment says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). So I would think, since that is the first commandment, that is the first challenge in every generation. Does the church and does the world love God with all their heart and all their soul and all their mind and all their strength? …if we don’t know God, we can’t love God.
Our worship to glorify God must be based on what we have seen of God, what we know of God, what he has revealed of himself. If we are just worshiping a haze, God is not getting a lot of glory from the warm feelings that we are having in our hearts because of the ignorance of not being in our heads because of the haze over our lives.
I have got this picture in my head of somebody who runs up to me on the road and says, “Here is $10,000. Please go put it in my bank. Here is my pin number, and here is my account number.” And I say, “I don’t even know you. What are you doing?” He just says, “I trust you.” I say, “Why do you trust me?” He says, “Oh, I don’t know. I feel inside like I should trust you.” My response is not to be honored. I feel like this guy is a nut.
However, if he runs up to me and says, “Here is $10,000 in cash. Please, here is my account number. Here is my pin number. Would you deposit it for me?” And I say, “Look, I don’t even know you. Why do you trust me?” He says, “Oh, I know you. We work in the same building. I have been watching you for a year. You are trustworthy. I will trust you, because I know you.” Then I feel honored.
That is the way it is with God. If we say, “Oh, I am just coming to God. I trust him. I don’t have any reasons for trusting him. I don’t need that theology stuff.” God thinks we are nuts. We are not honoring him. We are honoring a haze. And so knowledge really matters underneath the commandment. You have got to love God with all your heart and soul.
So today I think the biggest challenge is: Do people know God? Do people have a knowledge that is trustworthy? Therefore a huge issue is: What is the role of the Bible in the church today and is it trustworthy and are people basing their lives on it in their preaching on it? Are they getting the whole counsel of God so that they can love the whole God?
What Does this Mean for Children’s Ministry?
We are excited to have Pastor John and others join us to help us explore the topic of teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generations at the Children Desiring God National Conference, April 14-16 in Indianapolis. Our Keynote Sessions will include:
- Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation // Mark Vroegop
- Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God // Bruce Ware
- Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform //Albert Mohler
- Believing the Whole Counsel of God: How Our Children Can Know the Bible Is True // John Piper
- Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God // David Michael
We hope you can join us in learning how to teach the whole counsel of God to the children in your church so they can wholeheartedly love God in response to this knowledge!
Register by 11:59pm (CST), January 31 to receive Early Bird Pricing!
Early Bird Savings Ends January 31!
Are you brand new to children’s ministry and just trying to figure out how things work? Have you been serving for years and feel burnt out? Do you have specific area of ministry that is not working and need advice on what to do? Are you looking for new ideas for your classrooms? Are looking to build a support network with others in children’s ministry?
The Children Desiring God National Conference is the place for you! We hope you will join us in Indianapolis, April 14-16 to experience:
- Worship of our unchangeable God
- Five encouraging plenary sessions led by Albert Mohler, John Piper, Bruce Ware, Mark Vroegop and David Michael. They will explore the meaning of the whole counsel of God and examine the impact to the next generation if we don’t teach this in our children’s ministries.
- Over 60 practical seminar sessions to fuel fruit-bearing ministry. Topics include teaching with purpose, partnering with parents, training volunteers, teaching youth to study the Bible, discipling children, intergenerational teaching and more.
- Networking with churches across America and around the world
- Fellowship and exchange of ideas with ministry workers
- Refreshment, encouragement and revival
Don’t wait! Register now to save your spot at the lowest price! Early bird pricing ends January 31 at 11:59 pm (CST).
We look forward to seeing you in April!