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Give Your Children the Gift of Pondering + Free Lesson

Children Desiring God Blog // Give Children the Gift of Pondering

Back in the days when I taught science classes to homeschooled children, I used to emphasize the importance of careful observation. As an example, I would have each child choose a flower or a single leaf, and have them quietly study it for at least 30 minutes and record everything they could about it—size, shape, colors, texture, fragrance, etc. It’s amazing what comes to light about something when you really stop to ponder it. “Ponder—to think about, give thought to, consider, mull over, contemplate, meditate on…” The word “ponder” is not often used anymore in this fast-paced, sound-bite, digital media culture. So a verse like this is often readily passed over:

I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Psalm 77:12, ESV

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Resources to Help You Pray for the Next Generation

Resources to Help You Pray for the Next Generation

Thank you for joining us in our Praying for the Next Generation challenge over the past week. We hope that this time of praying through Scripture has been an encouragement to you as you have sought God’s guidance on how to build a spiritual foundation for your family and have prayed for God’s redeeming work in your children’s lives. As this 10-day challenge comes to a close, may this be the continuation of treasuring God’s Word as you come before our Father on behalf of your children and the coming generations.

Here are some resources to help you integrate prayer into different areas of your life, both at church and at home, and to help you teach your children about prayer.

 

A Sure Foundation Nursery CurriculumA Sure Foundation Nursery Curriculum

For churches
The verses and designs from this challenge are an element of our newly refreshed and expanded A Sure Foundation: A Philosophy and Curriculum for Ministry to Infants and Toddlers. It is designed to help you transform your ministry to infants and toddlers into an integral beginning—a place of prayer for young children, a place where they hear foundational Bible stories, and a place where children learn simple truth statements and begin to memorize Scripture as they form their language skills. Emphasis is placed on creating an environment of prayer for babies and strategically praying for each infant and toddler by name each time they are in your care. (more…)

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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NOW AVAILABLE: A Sure Foundation

A Sure Foundation Nursery Curriculum

So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: “see, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed.”—Isaiah 28:16

Nurturing the faith of the next generations begins with the youngest in your church. The A Sure Foundation curriculum will help you develop a ministry steeped in prayer and overflowing with foundational Bible stories, truth statements about God and Scripture memory. We have refreshed and expanded this curriculum to equip you and your teachers to minister to children through the infant and toddler years.

The expanded A Sure Foundation now includes four parts: (more…)

The Great Work of Setting a Foundation

The Great Work of Setting a Foundation

Often nursery workers are seen as “baby-sitters” whose main job is to merely provide a safe environment for little ones while their parents are involved in the “real and important” ministries of the church. May these words from John Piper be a reminder to the church:

Jesus took the child-belittling culture of his day which defined “greatness” to exclude “receiving children” and he turned it upside down. He said: “Receiving children in my name is the world’s least, and the world’s least is my great.” So wherever the Spirit of Christ pervades, the people who receive children will no longer be the “least.” They will be “great.”

Really? Why? Because to receive a child in Jesus’ name (i.e., out of love, in his strength, and for his glory) is to receive Jesus, and to receive Jesus is to receive God the Father. Which means that the nursery may be more full of God than any other room in the church.

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Praying for Backyard Bible Clubs

Praying for Backyard Bible Clubs

Backyard Bible Clubs are a great way to connect with neighbors, train youth in service and ministry, and have an impact for the Gospel.

One key component for an effective Backyard Bible Club is prayer.

  • Pray early during planning and preparation.
    • Pray for God’s wisdom in the details, from which curriculum to choose to the dates and times to have the club(s).
    • Pray that your volunteers would have a passion for serving and a heart for children to hear about our Great Savior.
  • Pray often both individually and corporately.
    • Incorporate prayer for the Backyard Bible Club into your personal devotions.
    • Pray as a team during preparation and training, as well as for all aspects of the club.
  • Pray before and during the club.
    • Gather as a team before the children arrive to pray that God would direct the time together and for God to work in each heart.
    • Pray for each child who would come, and for anything of concern that came to light the previous day.
    • Have the people running snack time pray for the children during snack time.
  • Pray as you and your team follow up with families after the club, inviting them to a program or meal after the club, and even to church.
    • Pray for hearts to see God and faith to grow.
    • Pray for families to be welcomed and loved by those putting on the club.

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Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?

Intergenerational Teaching: Why and How?

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.—Psalm 145:3-4

Intergenerational classes are a wonderful way to gather families to learn together. It is not the last resort when babysitters are not available, but an opportunity for both children and adults to be teachers and both to be learners.

I think God’s intent for the generations is that we should bless one another, support one another, encourage one another and enrich each other’s lives.

Intergenerational doesn’t mean dumbing down material so that children can understand it but the adults are bored. But it also doesn’t mean teaching a normal adult class with the hope that the children present may get a tidbit.

True intergenerational teaching conscientiously takes into account that there are learners of different ages and experiences present in the classroom and seeks to teach the hearts of all of them. It’s beneficial to the adults and to the children because the uniqueness of the situation provides some opportunities for both generations to understand the material differently and to benefit from a different perspective.

A positive experience in an intergenerational class can encourage a dad who has never lead a family devotional time to launch out at home in bringing the Word to his family.—Sally Michael

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Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

Teaching Preschoolers with a Flannelgraph

For preschool classes using the He Established a Testimony or He Has Spoken by His Son curricula, we recommend using felt visuals with a flannel board for the presentation of the Bible lesson. One source of these visuals is through Betty Lukens.

With young children, it is very important to use visuals to hold their attention and help them visualize things that are unfamiliar. For example, showing a picture or felt figures of Abram on a camel in a caravan will help children understand the unusual mode of transportation and the barren conditions of the slow journey Abram faced.

Tips for Teaching with a Flannelgraph

Less is more when using a flannelgraph. Sometimes spiritual truths can get lost in the busyness of illustrating the story. For example, using enough male figures to show all of Joseph’s brothers takes more time than their role warrants. A single group of men can represent the “brothers,” even if it only shows a few. You may discover that you cannot show Pharaoh’s chariots following Israel into the Red Sea because the chariot faces the wrong direction and is four inches taller than the parted walls of water. But, you can use the chariot piece to show what a chariot is. (more…)

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

The World’s Largest Puzzle and Its Infinitely Wise Creator

This summer, my family and I stopped by America’s biggest puzzle store during a family adventure. Inside, puzzles covered tables and shelves, were fitted in special cases that lined the entire ceiling and were tucked in every nook and cranny. There were beginner toddler puzzles with two pieces, kids puzzles with firetrucks and princesses, 1000 piece puzzles of historical events, and 3000 pieces puzzles of beautiful nature scenes. Then we saw the big puzzle…32,356 pieces. The finished puzzle measured 17 feet by 6 feet and weighed more than 40 pounds. Many people have said a puzzle this size takes six months to a year to complete.

To me, attempting a puzzle that size is, well, puzzling. But, what if the the whole world—dirt, mountains, oceans, trees, flowers, sky, animals, birds, insects—was a puzzle you had to put together? Oh, and it is not a normal puzzle. It is one of those 3-D puzzles with moving pieces. You have to add layer upon layer to your puzzle to piece together each person along with every circumstance they will ever face. That is unimaginable.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom have you made them all;
—Psalm 104:24a

In The ABCs of God curriculum, Jill Nelson asks children:

What does it mean that God is wise? It means that He causes everything to work out perfectly. It is as if the world is like a giant puzzle with millions of pieces. God made each piece, and all the pieces fit together in order to make the world just as God planned it. God doesn’t make any mistakes. Because He is wise, EVERYTHING turns out exactly as He has planned it.

When we look at our lives, often all we can see is a mountain of puzzle pieces that do not seem to fit together. It is not our job to determine how each the piece of our life fits together or why we were given certain pieces. We need to trust that God is infinitely wise in each detail of our lives, especially when bad things happen or circumstances do not make sense.

In his sermon, “The Great Work of the Only Wise God,” Pastor John Piper defines wisdom this way:

Wisdom DefinitionWisdom is knowing what the greatest goal is in any situation, and what the best way is to achieve it. It’s different from knowledge, but it assumes knowledge. They overlap. You can’t exercise wisdom without knowledge; because in order to figure out the best way to achieve a goal, you have to have knowledge of many factors. On the other hand, you can have a lot of knowledge and not have wisdom. There are many brilliant fools. And many less-educated sages.

But we are talking about God’s wisdom, not ours. The difference is that he always knows the best goal in every situation, and he always has total and perfect knowledge of billions and billions of relevant factors in every situation that enable him to know the best way to achieve the goal.

Next time you sit down with your child to work on a puzzle, take time to discuss who is the master puzzle-maker who creates and fits together diverse pieces to reveal His perfect plan in creation and achieve his goals. You may also want to teach your children this song to remind them who alone is wise.

God Alone Is Wise

by John Piper
Sung to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”

God alone is full of wisdom,
God alone knows every end,
God alone plans every pathway,
More than we can comprehend
Infinite! His wisdom soars,
High above our peace and wars,
Grasping all the mysteries,
Governing the galaxies.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise!

Wise! He saves the lowly sinner.
Wise! He keeps his covenant.
Wise! His ways at Calvary
Silence ev’ry argument.
By his blood and righteousness
Jew and gentile he will bless.
None shall boast in any man,
All shall marvel at his plan.
Infinite! Our God is wise!
Let our boast in him arise.

 

 

 

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

Here is an often-voiced dilemma from those who are using our Sunday morning elementary and youth curriculum:

This study has 40 lessons, but we have only 35 available weeks in our Sunday school year. What should we do?

Unfortunately, there is not “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question because every class situation is different. The most beneficial solution needs to take into account not only the intentional structure and flow of the curriculum, but also your individual class structure and student needs. However, we can offer some help. Here are some general things to look for and consider:

  1. Read the curriculum Introduction very carefully.
    Some of our curricula offer suggestions about which lessons can be omitted or readily combined without losing the overall flow of the curriculum. Or, absent of this, some general principles are outlined to guide you in making decisions that will best serve your students.
  2. On our website, click on and read through the expanded scope and sequence that is available for your particular curriculum. Doing so can help you to decide which lessons are more crucial for the study as a whole.
  3. Take into account which lessons emphasize concepts that your students may already be more familiar with, as compared to newer, less familiar concepts. “Weigh in” more heavily on lessons addressing these newer topics and consider combining or omitting lessons with the more familiar concepts.
  4. Consider doing a one-lesson “missed lessons round-up” by providing the students with the main ideas and a key verse for each missing lesson. Be creative as possible. This is the method I have used most often when I have had to omit five or more lessons in a year.
  5. Make sure to keep explicit Gospel lessons front and center—Don’t simply assume that the Gospel is one of those familiar concepts that can be omitted.
  6. Ask: Is there a way that you can encourage parents to cover these missing lessons in the home? The best and most appropriate way to do this is to send home the corresponding Growing in Faith Together (GIFT) page for any lessons missed. Also, making sure that each student has his or her own workbook will ensure that they all finish the year with the main ideas and Scripture for all 40 lessons in their possession.

Yes, we know that for many of you there are so many lessons and so little time! We hope these suggestions will help resolve that dilemma more readily. And, as always, our cheerful customer service team is available to help you with any further questions. You can call us at 877.400.1414 or email info@childrendesiringGod.org.

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

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