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Something’s Missing

Now Available: The ABCs of God

We try to include an array of helpful resources in our curricula, and the newly revised ABCs of God curriculum is no exception. However, something very important is missing—on purpose. What is it? Let me convey a true story that will emphasize what it is and why it’s missing.

19A-RefugeAbout 20 years ago, I was busy writing the first version of The ABCs of God for use in our church. At the time, I was teaching the first grade Sunday school class. The lesson for an upcoming Sunday was “Refuge—God is a place of safety for His people.” I had the lesson prepared with Bible texts studied and all the visuals prepped and ready to go. But something very important was missing…an unexpected “gift” as it were. That “gift” dramatically changed the way in which I presented the lesson.

What was the gift I’m referring to? Oddly enough, it came in the early morning hours soon after my husband Bruce had left for work, riding his bike as usual. I got the phone call from our pastor. Bruce was okay, but he had been shot while biking through the neighborhood. A man had held up a gun, demanded his money, and then simply pulled the trigger. But, interestingly enough, as he pulled that trigger his hand fell and Bruce was shot in the foot instead of the chest.

After the initial shock of hearing that my husband had been shot—in the foot no less—you know what immediately came to mind? God is our refuge and strength. God is a place of safety and protection for His people. No matter what happens—even if that bullet had taken his life—my husband would have been safe in the arms of Jesus. God truly is a refuge! I have seen and experienced Him as a strong tower!

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.—Proverbs 18:10

Tower of Refuge

That experience was a gift—it completely changed the manner in which I presented the lesson to those first graders, because my mind and heart had been deeply impacted and transformed by the biblical truths written into the lesson. The list of Scripture texts were no mere words on a page. God’s Word was shown to be powerful, effective, reliable, and true in a scary situation.

That Sunday, at the end of the lesson, I briefly shared what had happened to my husband—without being overly dramatic or scary. I ended the story with a note of confidence: For everyone who is trusting in Jesus, God WILL BE your refuge in every circumstance—even death, because going to be with Jesus forever is the greatest refuge of all! All eyes and ears were completely focused as I told this story. And I think the children got the point. Because, though not everyone (thankfully) will experience being shot, we all face scary things. Children may fear bullies, math tests, getting sick, grandpa dying, thunderstorms, robbers, etc. Conveying a real-life experience can help them grasp what it truly means that God is a refuge.

So what’s missing from the curriculum? You, teaching from a mind and heart that has been transformed by His Word and, when appropriate, briefly sharing experiences God has brought into your life that serve to demonstrate His greatness and worth.

 

NOW AVAILABLE: The ABCs of God

Now Available: The ABCs of God

The ABCs of God revised curriculum is now here! This 40-week Sunday school curriculum helps first grade children discover our amazing God who is worthy of our greatest love, honor, trust and obedience.

Who is God?
What is God like?
How should I act toward God?

The answers to these questions are of utmost importance in the life of faith for children and adults alike. The ABCs of God uses the framework of the alphabet to introduce children to the attributes of God from Almighty (God is all-powerful) to Zealous (God acts with His whole heart).

Take advantage of this exciting opportunity to teach the children in your church or home about God’s character. Then join with us in our prayer that your children will desperately seek God, passionately love Him, unceasingly trust and obey Him, and forever enjoy Him.

Sample Lessons

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Our best selling curriculum is now better than ever!

The ABCs of God Classroom KitUpdated Lessons

Lessons have been refined to include stronger illustrations, deeper main points, increased teacher student interaction, detailed instructions for teachers and a streamlined format.

 

 

The ABCs of God VisualsAll New Visuals

The lesson visuals have been recreated to better engage students. Now, there are 334 color pages of original photography, Bible illustrations, eye catching graphics and historical images.

 

 

 

The ABCs of God Student WorkbookExpanded Application

Small group application questions have been significantly updated to help leaders facilitate discussions concerning heart changing topics.

The Student Workbook maintains the classic layout with a letter for kids to color each week, but has been updated with more intentional activities and illustrations.

 

The ABCs of God New ActivitiesNew Activities

Bonus Review Activities have been added to each lesson. These sheets refresh children’s memory of previous lessons as themes build on each other.

Two Optional Activities are provided to fill extra class time with interactive learning. They include games, simple crafts and memory verse activities.

 


See how The ABCs of God can fit into your early elementary classes by viewing the Curriculum Sample. To get your own copy, order online or call our customer service team at 877.400.1414.

Would you like to upgrade you curriculum?

If you currently own a copy of The ABCs of God, you may be eligible for a free or discounted Classroom Kit and/or Teacher’s Guide upgrade. Learn more about our upgrade pricing, then call our customer service team at 877.400.1414 to place your order.

 

 

Do You Remember What You Learned in First Grade?

The ABCs of God Visuals

When I think back to my childhood, there are many fond memories that stick out in my mind. One in particular was from a Sunday morning. I sat in a small wooden chair, surrounded by a couple dozen other first grader students, and gazed at the big, shiny red box at the front of the room. What was inside? My teacher started pulling letters out of the box—16 to be exact—and started to spell a word. What word could be that long? INCOMPREHENSIBLE! What did that mean?

The ABCs of God Visuals

Another day, my teacher decided to make cookies for our class. Yum! Out of the box came sugar and butter and flour and chocolate chips and a bowl and a spoon and a spatula. She set them all out on a table and then just stood there, staring at them. She thought they could turn into cookies on their own. How silly.

The ABCs of God VisualsFast forward a decade later, and I was making new memories—this time as a helper in the first grade class. I remember the day the teacher started pulling out bricks with pictures of the plagues from the same, shiny red box. As she explained each of the ten bricks, she slammed them down on the table. The children gasped as one hit another so hard, it broke in half. There was also the day when there was a beautiful throne at the front of the class. The students were bewildered when they saw the special jewelry box—representing God’s greatness and worth—sitting among a pile of smelly, disgusting garbage, instead of being displayed by the royal throne.

Now, another decade or so later, I get to stop in the first grade classroom and see a child’s jaw drop as his teacher pours an entire box of cereal out in front of him. I also have the privilege of designing some of the visuals for The ABCs of God revised curriculum that will help children create the same memories I have.

The ABCs of God VisualsYou see, these memories are so much more than just some fun moments. When I failed to understand all of the nuances of the sovereignty of God, I remembered those 16 letters. God is incomprehensible, He is more than we can fully understand. When I was being lectured in biology about how the world was made through evolution, I remembered that table full of cookie ingredients and how they were helpless without a creator.

Every time I see a brick wall, I am reminded of those plagues and how God is an almighty God. He showed His power so His name could be known throughout the whole earth as the one true God. When I take out the trash, I am reminded that God took the hard path. He took my punishment for my sin to ultimately show His Father’s glory instead of being pampered like a king on earth.

ABCs of God VisualsAnd my morning bowl of cereal? Even though it will only satisfy me until noon, it is a reminder that God is bountiful. He more than enough to satisfy all of my desires. These memories remind me, and children in The ABCs of God classes, who God is, what He is like and how they should act toward Him. These memories help children see God’s greatness and worth every day in the world around them.

Each lesson in The ABCs of God curriculum begins with a concrete illustration like these to help children bridge what they can see and understand with abstract concepts they cannot see or find hard to understand. This deductive teaching style leads children to make observations and draw conclusions as the lesson progresses.

In the revised version of The ABCs of God, we have included 334 pages of new visuals for teachers to use in conjunction with common household items. The visuals assist in telling Bible stories, emphasis key points of the lesson and create illustrations that children will recall in everyday life. Here is a sample of the Visuals Packet:

 

The ABCs of God
The ABCs of God revision will be released tomorrow! To learn more, take a look at the Lesson Samples and view the Scope and Sequence.

 

 

Available July 12: The ABCs of God Revised Curriculum

The ABCs of God Revised Curriculum

Over the past 18 years, churches around the world have been helping their early elementary students answer three important questions: “Who is God?”, “What is God like?” and “How should I act toward God?” Now, we are excited to announce that the revised version of your favorite curriculum, The ABCs of God, will be available July 12!

Over the past year, we have spent time polishing the lessons, adding new application questions, creating over 300 new visuals, illustrating new workbook pages and developing stronger tools for parents. We cannot wait for you to start using this revised curriculum that will better equip your teachers, engage your students and impact your families.

The ABCs of God Revised Curriculum

The ABCs of God is a study for children on the greatness and worth of God. It uses the alphabet as a framework for learning the attributes of God and other terms that describe His character. Through the use of a teaching aid called “The Blessing Box,” students will discover a new attribute of God each week and will be challenged to consider how they should respond to an amazing God who is worthy of their greatest love, honor, trust and obedience.

Sample Lessons

Scope & Sequence

Learn More

Mark your calendars! The ABCs of God will be available to order in just 6 days!

 

 

A Banner to Fly Over Your Parenting and Children’s Ministry

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What if we were to take this statement and make it a type of banner to fly over our parenting and children’s and youth ministries in the coming years?

Our aim is not to take a child’s low views of self and replace them with high views of self. Rather our aim is to take a child’s low views of God and replace them with high views of God. Our aim is not to take a child with little sense of worth and fill him with a great sense of worth. Rather our aim is to take a child who by nature makes himself the center of the universe and show him that he was made to put God at the center of the universe and get joy not from seeing his own tiny worth, but from knowing Christ who is of infinite worth.

(“Predestined for Adoption to the Praise of His Glory,” by John Piper, ©Desiring God Foundation, desiringGod.org)

Think of how countercultural and even counterintuitive this is…and yet it is so radically biblical and life-giving for our children! In many ways, our resources have been developed underneath this sweeping banner. For example, our first two distinctions are:

  • A Big Vision of God

Our curricula aims to acquaint children with the incomparable majesty of the triune God by digging deep into His divine character as revealed throughout Scripture. We believe that children should be taught the beauty and grandeur of His manifold perfections. In completing our scope and sequence, children will have learned and explored, with increasing depth, more than 20 distinct attributes of God.

  • The Centrality of God in All Things

Every lesson in every curriculum aims to magnify the triune God above all—His name, fame, honor, and glory. We believe children will find their greatest joy when they esteem God most. Therefore, the lessons use language, illustrations, and applications that point children toward God-adoration. Furthermore, the curricula challenge children to see that every aspect of life is to fall under centrality of God and His sovereign rule.

Every resource we develop seeks to do these things—from nursery and beyond. Two resources in particular are designed to give children a “high view” of God by carefully focusing on His divine attributes and character.

The ABCs of God: A Study for Children on the Greatness and Worth of God (1st – 3rd Grade, 40 lessons)
The ABCs of God was written to present children with the beauty and awesome grandeur of the incomparable greatness and worth of God. Toward this end, this curriculum uses the framework of the alphabet to teach children key attributes of God and other words that define His character. These are deep doctrinal truths that answer the most important questions for each of us, namely, “Who is God? What is God like? How should I respond to God?”

(Note: The revised version of The ABCs of God will be available Summer 2016. Watch the blog for further updates.)

How Majestic Is Your Name: A Study for Children on the Names and Character of God (5th – 6th Grade, 40 lessons)
The names of God in the Bible are a reflection of His character, which is so glorious that He cannot be described by a single name. His character is communicated in hundreds of names progressively revealed in the Bible. But the focus of How Majestic Is Your Name is not the many names, titles and references to God. This are merely the structure to show the greatness of our God. Each lesson presents glorious truths about God and encourages students to see and rejoice in His goodness and greatness.

Is your church already using one or both of these curricula? Have you and your children been encouraged as you have seen a great and marvelous view of God and the surpassing worth of Christ? We would be delighted if you would share an encouraging testimony with us and others.

(Image courtesy of photoexplorer at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Why Choose CDG Curriculum?

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One of the surprising (but delightful) statistics from our recent National Conference was the number of attendees who are new to the ministry of Children Desiring God. For them, the conference served as their first real exposure to our vision, mission, and philosophy. At the conference, they got a high-dose, jam-packed introduction to our ministry. And yet only a relatively small portion of the conference was focused on our curricula, and this was intentional. Why? Because the curricula is NOT the vision of CDG. Rather, it serves as one tool for accomplishing the vision. We believe that it is a valuable and helpful tool, and of course we would be delighted if you would use our curricula in your churches and/or homes.

We also know that there are other wonderful curricula out there to choose from. So why choose CDG? Here are some distinctions we offer:

Our curriculum is committed to…

  • A Big Vision of God
  • The Centrality of God in All Things
  • Doctrinal Depth, Accuracy, and Clarity
  • Faithfulness to the Gospel
  • A Serious and Sober View of Sin
  • A Scope and Sequence that Aims to Present the Whole Counsel of God
  • A Rigorous Study of the Bible and Training of the Mind
  • Age-Appropriate Visuals and Illustrations that Enhance the Learning Experience
  • Personal Application that Encourages a Proper Response in the Mind, Heart, and Will
  • Excitement for God’s Global Purposes
  • Maximizing Classroom Time with Biblical Teaching and Spiritual Discussion
  • Assisting Parents in Discipling their Children
  • Stewardship of Resources

To read a further explanation of each, click here.

 

24 Things Your Child Should Know about the Bible

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Suppose you were to ask your 6- or 7-year-old children or students, “What is the Bible?” How do you think they would answer? Sally Michael believes there are at least 24 things children of this age should know about the Bible:

  • The Bible is a message from God.
  • The Bible is the most special Book.
  • The Bible is written by God.
  • The Bible is true.
  • God watches over the Bible and works to fulfill His Word.
  • The Bible is for everyone.
  • The Bible is full of wonderful verses.
  • God is the main character in the Bible.
  • The Bible is powerful.
  • The Bible is eternal.
  • God will preserve the Bible.
  • The Bible is the ultimate authority.
  • The Bible shows us that our hope is in God.
  • The Bible protects us from sin.
  • The Bible is our guide.
  • The Bible should be obeyed.
  • The Bible is a priceless treasure.

What is the message of the Bible?

  • There is only one true God.
  • We were created to show God’s greatness and worth (God’s glory).
  • All people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
  • The wages of sin is death.
  • We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus.
  • The gift of God is eternal life.
  • God gave us the Bible so that we might believe in Jesus.

Yes, these list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start and provides some concrete, obtainable goals for children. And, to help you do just that, Sally has written a curriculum that carefully explains each of these points:

I Stand in Awe – A Study for Children on the Bible

 26 Lessons

Target Grade: 1st Grade

Grade Range: Kindergarten-2nd Grade

God, who is the most valuable Being in all the universe, reveals Himself with clarity and authority through His Word. This means that the Bible is precious and should be valued more than any other book. This study seeks to acquaint young children with the characteristics of the Bible and its message of redemption. The goal is for children to develop a deep affection for the Bible and learn to treasure its Author.

Learn more about this curriculum here. And a special note to parents: This curriculum is very adaptable for using in the home. Look here for ideas in adapting the curriculum for the home.

Assessing Before You Spring Forward

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Spring time is a super busy season for those of us who garden. But before I begin to plant, there have been weeks of assessment: thinking back to what I planted last year—what worked, and what didn’t work. Why didn’t a certain plant grow well? What changes will I make this year?

In a similar way, spring time is also a great time to assess your children’s and youth ministry programs, curriculum, etc. What in particular needs assessing? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Is there a stated, coherent vision and philosophy from the leadership driving the current structures and programs? If asked, would your teachers and other ministry volunteers be able to succinctly articulate this vision and philosophy?
  • Curriculum (scope and sequence from preschool to high school)—As a whole, does the curriculum used over time reflect the six disciplines of teaching the whole counsel of God? (The six disciplines are: Bible study/chronological stories; biblical theology; systematic theology; moral instruction; explicit Gospel; and Bible study skills.)
  • Does your scope and sequence present these disciplines in a balanced way (not all “biblical theology,” not all “systematic theology,” etc.)?
  • Does the scope and sequence present biblical concepts to the targeted age group at appropriate age/learning levels?
  • Classroom time and structure—What time frame is available for formal teaching on Sundays, midweek, and other avenues? Does the time available prioritize formal Bible instruction?
  • What age groupings compose each classroom? Are these groupings conducive to the learning needs of the age group? Were these groupings arrived at based on necessity or convenience?
  • Were ministry volunteers provided adequate training and encouragement during the year?
  • Church and home instruction—Are there opportunities to partner together with the home in order to enhance and supplement the formal teaching of the church?
  • Is your plan accomplishing your stated goals? Do you have a means to assess this?

Answering the above questions—assessing the current structures, programs, curriculum etc.—can serve as diagnostic tools for planning ahead. It could very well be that your children’s and youth ministry is “on course” with your stated vision. But these questions may also reveal some weaknesses and areas that need to be addressed. Addressing these issues now, before you implement a strategic plan for the coming new school year in the fall is crucial.

(Image courtesy of dusky at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Children Need a Robust Doctrine of God

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Imagine a preschool Sunday school curriculum that presents 64 chronological Bible stories from the Old Testament…all of them focusing on the character of God. Is there something wrong with this? Something missing? Doesn’t the whole Bible point to Jesus? Shouldn’t we make clear that every story points to Jesus?

Before you respond to these important and valid questions, I would ask you to carefully read and ponder this quote from J. Gresham Machen:

…when men say that we know God only as He is revealed in Jesus, they are denying all real knowledge of God whatever. For unless there be some idea of God independent of Jesus, the ascription of deity to Jesus has no meaning. To say, “Jesus is God,” is meaningless unless the word “God” has an antecedent meaning attached to it…We are not forgetting the words of Jesus in the Gospel of John, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” But these words do not mean that if a man had never known what the word “God” means, he could come to attach an idea to that word merely by his knowledge of Jesus’ character. On the contrary, the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking had already a very definite conception of God: a knowledge of the one supreme Person was presupposed in all that Jesus said. But the disciples desired not only a knowledge of God but also intimate, personal contact. And that came through their intercourse with Jesus. Jesus revealed, in a wonderfully intimate way, the character of God, but such revelation obtained its true significance only on the basis both of the Old Testament heritage and of Jesus’ own teaching. Rational theism, the knowledge of one Supreme Person, Maker and active Ruler of the world, is at the very root of Christianity.

(“Christianity and Liberalism,” copyright©2009, pages 48-49)

Could it be that, especially for preschoolers, it is crucial that we first focus on giving them a concept of God as revealed in the Old Testament? By introducing them to key truths regarding who God is and what He is like, are we not preparing young children to better understand the significance of what it means that “Jesus is God”?

As much as it is truthful to say that the whole Bible points to Jesus and the Gospel, we must not dismiss or minimize Dr. Machen’s point. Our children need to be taught a robust doctrine of God. They need to see “God” as He has revealed Himself throughout the Old Testament—His power, love, mercy, sovereign rule, holiness, goodness, faithfulness, etc. These are the antecedents that give meaning to the New Testament’s assertion that “Jesus is God,” and they provide the necessary foundation for understanding the message of the Gospel.

Resist the Smorgasbord!

Resist the Smorgasbord: Strategies for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

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:

Elements of Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Systematic theology that teaches foundational doctrines, which summarize the Bible’s teaching on various subjects.
  4. Moral instruction—the commands of Scripture, which communicate ethical instruction, guiding us in the righteous ways of God.
  5. An explicit presentation of the essential truths of the Gospel, leading to a clear understanding of saving faith.
  6. 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?

2016 National ConferenceIf 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.

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