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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

Introducing Our NEW Student Buttons

 

Students studying a Midweek Bible curriculum from Children Desiring God are encouraged to earn Student Buttons by completing four special projects during the study.

The age-appropriate projects are designed to reinforce the truths students are being taught in class. They include memorizing the books of the Bible, memorizing Scripture, reading books, doing devotions, collecting items from nature to reveal the greatness of God and more.

 

Student Buttons

 

The new Student Buttons feature a clean, modern look. We are also excited to announce that they are more affordable for churches than our classic Button and Badges Sets. The four, 1 1/2 inch buttons are perfect for children to display on backpacks or church bags!

Choose a curriculum below to learn more and see the buttons up close!
If you have questions, please give us a call at 877.400.1414 or write info@childrendesiringGod.org.

He Has Been Clearly Seen

I Stand in Awe

The Way of the Wise

Fight the Good Fight

 

Classic Button and Badges Sets on Sale

If you are still interested our Classic Buttons and Badges Sets, they are on sale for $25 (includes sets for 5 students). They be available to order on the curriculum pages only while supplies last.

 

 

 

Small Group Leading 101

Small Group Leading 101

The first few weeks of a new Sunday school year can seem overwhelming, but I found several things that have helped me over the years to be well prepared and have a smooth running Sunday morning.

At the Beginning of the Year

I read the curriculum introduction and found very practical suggestions. I checked out the appendices that provided even more help. And I printed out the scope and sequence of the curriculum so that I could see where the curriculum was heading.

As I prepared for my role as small group leader it was good to remember that my job was not to re-teach the lesson that the teacher teaches but to:

  1. Guide the children
  2. Help them discover answers
  3. Bring them to application truths they have been taught
  4. Make connections with previous lessons’ themes or chronology
  5. Work on Scripture memory
  6. Pray for concerns on their hearts

…all for the purpose of their growth in Christ-likeness and the glory of God.

Small Group Leading 101

During the Week

It helps tremendously to read the Scripture text on Sunday night so my mind can mull over the next week’s lesson and ask the Lord for personal application. Reading it multiple times prior to actually looking at the lesson enables my heart to be impacted with the truth we hope to communicate to the students. Then I read the teaching material and the application section to know the content and possible applications I can help the children apply to their own lives. Looking at the student workbook (or journal) helps me know what we will work on during our small group time and how it connects with the application questions. Writing out the specific questions I want to ask the children keeps me on task. Finally, an essential part of preparation is praying for the volunteer team, students and their parents. After all, only God can change hearts and empower the ministry.

May the Lord bless your preparations and interactions with the students He has placed in your sphere of influence, for His glory and their good (and yours as well)!

Sunday Morning

I make a habit of getting to the classroom early which makes a huge difference. A great way to start the morning is to spend time in prayer as a team. Then I could look at the classroom space and think about how I might:

  1. Minimize distractions to help the kids focus
  2. Make sure all needed materials were easily accessible (Student Workbooks or Journals, crayons/markers, pencils/pens, a notebook to record prayer requests…)

This allows me to focus on the kids as soon as they show up BECAUSE…Sunday school begins when the first child arrives! Greet the children with a smile and use their names—it truly makes a difference and they notice. Engage in conversation as soon as they come in. Sit with your small group during the worship and teaching time. Model the behavior you expect. Be alert for distracting or inappropriate behavior and support the teacher by intervening if necessary. Take notes on the lesson as it is taught so you can adjust questions you have planned to line up with what has been shared.

In Your Small Group

  1. Open in prayer.
  2. Introduce new children.
  3. State your expectations (especially at the beginning of the year and as a periodic reminder).
  4. Try to involve each child as you work through what you have prepared.
  5. Work on Workbook/Journal pages. This is key to applying what they have learned.
  6. Practice the memory verse and teach age appropriate Bible skills (i.e., Books of the Bible), as time permits.
  7. Take time to pray with your group at the end of your time together and encourage children to pray aloud.
  8. Make sure to record the prayer requests and follow up later on possible answers.
  9. Thank God for His help and ask Him to work in the students’ hearts.
  10. Have students help clean up your area and be sure to send home the GIFT page for parents to review.

As a small group leader I love connecting with “my” children on a regular basis. I get to know them, hear their thoughts and learn what is important to them. I pray for them and with them about their understanding of God and the concerns on their hearts. It is a privilege and joy to be used by the Lord in their lives. May your experience be so!

 

Already Relevant

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Our young people—especially teenagers—are looking for answers. As they grow and mature, they increasingly have big questions and big concerns. They are searching for answers that make sense for both the world outside their door and their day-to-day lives. As Christian parents and teachers, we need to carefully direct them to the Bible. But there is a right way and wrong way to go about this. Consider these words by Pastor Eric McKiddie in his post “Stop Trying to Make the Bible Relevant to Teenagers”:

It’s easy to feel pressure to make the Bible seem cool and relevant to teenagers…

In my years in youth ministry, though, I’ve seen unhelpful and even harmful methods of trying to make Scripture relevant. Book publishers make Bibles look like magazines, youth workers preach a hipster Jesus, and parents confuse their child’s involvement in a fun youth group for a growing relationship with God.

Yet in our efforts to make Scripture more entertaining, we actually confirm suspicions that it is in fact boring and irrelevant. And when youth workers aren’t as cool as they think they are, their efforts end up looking cheesy, which is the last thing that will help a teenager see the Bible’s importance.

…If you want teens—whether in your home or youth group—to appreciate the Bible, the first thing you must do is trust its relevance in your own heart. That trust should come across in how you talk about what the Bible says and why it matters. Scripture testifies to its own importance for God’s people, sometimes even pointing to young people in particular (Prov. 2:1–15; Eph. 6:1–3; 2 Tim. 3:16).

Peter’s words are especially helpful: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). Notice that Peter writes, “all things that pertain to life and godliness.” That means stress over grades, sexual temptation, loneliness, awkwardness—and how to honor God in each of these areas. But also notice how the power for everything that pertains to life and godliness comes to us—through the knowledge of God. And how do we attain this vital knowledge? Through the Scriptures.

At CDG, we are striving to do just that in the teen years—to present our students with a vital knowledge of Scripture that explores essential doctrines of the Christian faith in a manner that not only informs the mind but also challenges the heart by paying attention to how these doctrines intersect with ALL aspects of everyday life. In other words, showing that the Bible is already, in and of itself, relevant.

There are least four ways in particular that our youth curricula does this:

  • Encouraging teachers to devote an adequate amount of time in spiritual preparation for each lesson so that he or she teaches from a heart that has been personally transformed by the truths of Scripture. It gives the teacher an opportunity to share personal insights and practical application. Students take notice of this.
  • A lesson content that provides examples of connections between Scripture texts and real-life scenarios.
  • A depth of teaching that does not shy away from difficult doctrines and topics: evil, suffering, gender issues, etc.
  • A “Small Group Application” section following each lesson with carefully crafted questions and discussion points to actively engage the students to see how the truths of Scripture apply to each of them in a very personal way.

Click on each of our youth curricula to find out more and see lesson samples.

Teach Me Your Way 
A Study for Youth on Surrender to Jesus and Submission to His Way

Abiding in Jesus
A Study for Youth on Trusting Jesus and Encouraging Others

Your Word Is Truth
A Study for Youth on Seeing All of Life Through the Truth of Scripture

Rejoicing in God’s Good Design
A Study for Youth on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

Open My Eyes
A Study for Youth on Studying the Bible

(Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

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