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5 Ways to Get More from Your Curriculum This Fall

Fall is fast approaching, which means many Sunday School and Midweek children’s programs will launch soon. Besides recruiting volunteers (often a huge task), there are many preparations that should occur well before the first day of class. Don’t lose heart. Some thoughtful pre-planning can go a long way toward a fruitful autumn.

Pray

This is a crucial component in all aspects of ministry. We need to pray for qualified, passionate, and caring teachers, small group leaders, and worship leaders. We also should pray for the curriculum implementation – for leader preparation (not only of the lessons but their own hearts), receptive hearts of the students, good communication with parents, etc.

Plan

Given time constraints, it’s helpful to know what’s most helpful for launching a successful curriculum cycle.

  • Order early to help this process go smoothly. (We work with a print-on-demand warehouse that takes 3-4 business days to print, package, and ship materials; shipping times are in addition to that.)
  • Read introductory materials in the Teacher’s Guide or Leader’s Edition to learn how to use and prepare the materials, provide suggested classroom schedules, etc.
  • Create a schedule (or spreadsheet) of what lessons will be taught each week, including the lesson title and memory verse. This will help leaders in their preparation, and doubles as a communication tool with parents so they know what to expect, or what was covered in case of an absence. The scope and sequence page in the preface of each curriculum is also a useful guide.
  • Think through classroom management before the year begins and share your plan with your teaching team.

Prepare Visuals

Preparing all visuals before the year starts decreases stress on teachers.

  • Laminate visuals to make them more durable for years of use.
  • Put each lesson’s visuals in a manila folder labeled with the lesson number and store them in a crate or file box. (Remind teachers to return them for future use.)
  • For the curricula with electronic display options, be aware of which visuals still need to be printed.

Organize Student Materials (Coloring Books, Workbooks, Notebooks, Student Journals)

These supplemental materials are a key component of the curriculum for moving head knowledge to heart application. They are helpful tools while leaders review, apply, and lead the children to further understand the lesson. (Consider giving leaders a copy of the workbook. At least in older elementary, it’s helpful for the leaders to go through the workbook ahead of time to make sure they know the answers.)

Partner with Parents

Parental involvement is essential for fruitful instruction. Decide on the best way to communicate with parents. You could:

  • Print out the Parent Resource Pages for the entire year (available in the resource files in the Classroom Kit). Put them either in the visuals folders mentioned above or use a similar system where they are readily accessible by lesson for the teachers to send home.
  • Email the Parent Resources Pages weekly. This is not only a helpful reminder, but ensures that the resource actually gets to parents.
  • Email a month’s worth of Parent Resource Pages with a newsletter sharing prayer requests and evidences of God at work in the classroom.
  • Send home spiral-bound GIFT (Growing in Faith Together) booklets at the beginning of the year (available for purchase for our revised curricula, and as the GIFT App).
  • Encourage parents to use these resources during mealtime discussions. Periodic email reminders about using them might keep the parents on task. Parents of multiple children might focus on a different child’s curriculum each day or each week.
  • Invite parents to participate in the classroom. For example, one teacher gave families an opportunity to be the “family of the week” to introduce parents to the class, find out more about the family and their child, and provide an opportunity for the children to pray for this family.

If you have any questions about using the curricula, please contact our Customer Care team. We’re always happy to help (info@Truth78.org; 877-400-1414).

May the Lord bless you as you prepare for the next season of ministry, sharing God’s glorious Word and Gospel with the next generation “so that they should set their hope in God” (Psalm 78:7).

 

 

Lullaby Theology: Singing the Whole Counsel of God

At two years old, David is finding his singing voice. From the backseat he warbles about “The Wheels of the Bus,” and in the bathtub he chirps out “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” But yesterday I found him on our bed, thumbing through Daddy’s Bible, singing “Jesus Loves Me.” We got out the ESV Bible my parents gave David when he was born and sat on the bed, looking at the pictures and singing the songs he had learned about God. One of those songs was Praise Him, Praise Him, All Ye Little Children:

Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love;
Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children,
God is love, God is love.

I’ve sung this many times around a circle of unruly toddlers and over crying babies in the nursery. When David was born, I started singing it to him at home as he sat in his chair and watched me cook, wash dishes, and fold laundry. Singing truth is a great way to redeem the “mundane” time, putting into practice the commands of Deuteronomy 6:4-7 with children while getting ordinary things done. Rhythm and simple melody make truths easier to learn and brings cheerfulness to otherwise boring chores (really boring chores if you’re only three months old and can only sit and watch).

However, as I worked and sang through my small repertoire of baby praise songs, I began to notice what a small picture of God I was painting for David. There is no doubt that God is love—and that it is important for the smallest and most vulnerable people to know that—but God has many other attributes as well. Having spent six years teaching The ABCs of God  to first grade students at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, I could think of at least 35 other words about God…Almighty, Creator, Faithful, Holy, Jealous, Righteous, Merciful, Wrathful, Patient, Sovereign, Wise, Incomprehensible (my students’ favorite word), to name only a few. These are also truths David needs to know.

I started to list all of the one-syllable, simple adjectives describing God that I could substitute for “love” in the song: good, wise, just, kind, strong, big, near, great, king, etc. I began to add more verses to Praise Him, Praise Him All Ye Little Children. Even though the song grew much longer, the view of God became much bigger and grander. And that is just what a little child needs. A God who is:

  • Good—who always is good, does good, and gives good things like fields full of dandelions, little sisters, puppy kisses, and even medicine and flu vaccines.
  • Wise—to send rain to water the grass at the park, to make rules about obeying mommy and daddy, to make it dark for nighttime.
  • Strong—who never grows tired or crabby, who cannot be stopped from doing His purposes, who can carry His children through all of life, even when earthly daddies can’t.
  • Big—bigger than anything he is afraid of (the dark, owls, mommy leaving, etc.) and bigger than himself, a God who is the boss of everyone, including toddlers.
  • Near—who is everywhere all the time, even in the middle of the night when parents are sleeping.
  • Just—who is the standard of right and wrong, who judges and disciplines rightly.
  • Great—a hero who never fails, never grows boring, and really deserves to be worshiped and followed.

We love to sing about the love of God to children because we so want them to experience His love, to know His tender care, and to see His smile of favor. God is love, and that’s a good place to start. But we must not stop there because the Bible doesn’t stop there. What toddlers don’t need is another warm and fuzzy “god bear” to cuddle for comfort. They need God. When fears, confusion, and rebellion come as threatening storms into his world, David needs the Lion-Lamb God of the Bible, who not only quiets His children with His love, but who vanquishes enemies with a mighty hand. If we truly want our children to truly praise God for His love, we must place His love within the whole counsel of God, including big words that toddlers may not fully understand for a while.

It will be a long time before David can read all the words the Bible uses to describe God, but until then, he can learn to sing them and say them. The words he learns now will prepare his mind and his heart for deeper teaching when he is older. But even now, his little ears are listening, and his young mind can understand more than we imagine. So we sing, and pray that he will come to love and trust the God that all those important words are about.


This article was written by Sarah House who is a Sunday School teacher and mother of four small children. It was first published in 2014.

What Does Godly Ambition Look Like?

What is greatness in God’s sight? Too often I wish for my children, (and even for myself), greatness that is praised in the world’s eyes: high grades, academic accolades, advanced degrees, leadership positions, world-shaping achievements, visible fame, etc. This has been a temptation in every age.

George Whitfield had far-ranging, ministry-oriented, ambitions for his son at his birth. But when the baby died at only four months old, Whitfield was jarred into reconsidering his hopes. As David Campbell explains in his article “Ambitious for Your Children?”, Whitfield’s application of a particular promise made by God to Zechariah about his son, John, was misapplied.

Campbell’s helpful lesson from history is a powerful corrective for parents in every age, who are tempted to wish for their children a greatness defined by the world’s standards. John’s greatness was anything but worldly. He says,

In John’s case, the promised greatness may be traced in his personal godliness, his faithfulness to his God-given task, his courage in doing the hard thing (reproving Herod for his sin), and his humility before Christ. Not the kind of things, it has to be said, that enter into the world’s estimation of greatness. But very precious in the eyes of God.

How should we frame this biblical prayer that our children be “great in the sight of the Lord”? Campbell exhorts believing parents saying,

Our children, it is true to say, may have no great part to play in the unfolding history of the kingdom of God. No one may write a biography of them after they are gone. They may never serve on the mission-field, never hold office in the church, they may have no outstanding gifts. But if they have a heart for God, serve him faithfully, have the courage to do the right, and are clothed in godly humility, they will be great in the Lord’s sight. And nothing counts for more than that!

Let this, then, be our chief ambition for our children. As we pray for them, let these be the things we ask the Lord for above everything else. Unbelievers may not think very much of our children for having them. God, for his part, will think the world of them.

Enjoy the surprising account of Whitfield and the greater context of these concluding remarks by reading the entire article here.


Feeling discouraged in your failure to change the world? Here’s encouragement for faithfulness in the ordinary: “To Be a Diaper Changer

28 Promises Your Children Can Stand On

One hymn I learned early on was Standing On the Promises by R. Kelso Carter. The hymn included these memorable and reassuring words:

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
By the living Word of God I shall prevail,
Standing on the promises of God.

Though I had the words and tune memorized, I don’t remember anyone actually describing and explaining what these promises were. What was I supposed to be standing on?

Here are 28 promises found in the Bible—all given by a faithful God who ALWAYS keeps His promises—that our children should know and can depend upon:

God promises:

  • salvation for everyone who truly repents and believes in Jesus.
  • eternal punishment (hell) for everyone who does not repent and believe in Jesus. (Yes, our children need to know that some promises are dreadful!)

For God’s children, those who trust in Jesus, God’s promises include:

  • God will be with you everywhere, at all times, watching over your life.
  • nothing can separate you from God’s love.
  • complete forgiveness when you confess your sins.
  • God will complete His work in you, making you more and more like Jesus.
  • you will bear fruit (good works).
  • God will hear your prayers.
  • He will guide you to know what is right.
  • God will provide for your needs.
  • He will not withhold any good thing that is good for your life.
  • God will fight for you and act on your behalf.
  • He is slow to anger and is patient with you.
  • God will give you strength.
  • though you may stumble, God will sustain and hold you.
  • God will discipline you for your good because He loves you.
  • He plans good for you, and He brings new mercies every day.
  • God will be with you in hard times.
  • He will not bring any unnecessary suffering into your life.
  • If you remain steadfast under trial, you will be rewarded.
  • God will keep you from ultimate harm and guard your soul and faith.
  • He will deliver you from all your troubles.
  • God will end suffering for His children and turn it to joy.
  • All things will work together for your good.
  • God will never forsake you.
  • He will never forget His promises.
  • God is not slow in keeping His promises—His timing is perfect.
  • eternal life—living forever with Jesus!

We have developed two resources to help your children learn and explore these promises in the Bible, as well as how the promises are meant to be embraced and applied to our lives.

Curriculum:

Faithful to All His Promises: A Study for Children on the Promises of God
Grade Range: 2nd Grade-4th Grade, 40 lessons
Children will not simply learn about some of God’s promises, but rather, they will discover what it means to trust in those promises, which are God’s gift to us, not something we deserve. Faithful to All His Promises begins by teaching children what a promise is, what makes God trustworthy with these promises, and who these promises are for. Then children get to explore some specific promises from God to see how He has been and will be faithful to each of those promises.

Family devotional book:

CPGPGod’s Promises
This book is adapted from the curriculum and is a read-aloud and read-along book for parents with early elementary-age children. Each chapter ends with personal application and activities, and includes full-color illustrations. (120 pages)

The Three Ds of Deuteronomy 6

When it comes to understanding and articulating cultural shifts in light of biblical truth, Dr. Albert Mohler is a welcome source of clarity, exhortation, and encouragement. Joe Eaton wrote a summary of Dr. Mohler’s message Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform from our last National Conference, which pointed to three Ds from Deuteronomy 6 that we, as parents and teachers, can take to heart. 

The dominant culture tends to replicate itself in each new generation. This is why Paul calls us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12). The last thing that should surprise us is that our children are going to grow up to look like the culture around them…unless a great work is done. Deuteronomy 6 tells us how we can influence our children biblically to remain steadfast in an ungodly culture. Three key words guide us through this text.

1. “Doctrine”
What this passage teaches us about how we must teach is that teaching must be inescapably theological and central. Another crucial aspect of teaching is what narrative you are teaching. We need to make sure that we teach our children that we are not here by accident; God did a saving work that brought us into being, and a saving work that brought us into covenant with him. This is the narrative we must teach. If we don’t know that our redemption story is infinitely greater than worldly stories, we will not effectively reach the hearts of our kids.

2. “Discipline”
We are facing a situation in which our children are going to become Canaanites if we don’t impart truth to them in such a way that helps them own it, and sometimes that will mean going against the culture or their own desires. Helping our children learn discipline in this way will serve them always.

3. “Diligence”
Every opportunity is an opportunity to teach your children, whether effectively or ineffectively. Don’t give up; you’re going to have to teach your children the same things very often, because your children don’t always retain things very well.

Cultural Pressure to Conform
The cultural pressure to conform to the evils of our culture is so pervasive that Christians have begun to underestimate the urgency with which we ought to fight it. This pressure has always existed and has grown since the Garden of Eden.

Whole Counsel of God
We need to be teaching our kids that God is God, and his Word is ultimate no matter what our culture says. We need to be diligent to teach our kids the truths that are particularly disputed in our culture right now, because those are the truths that will become hardest for them to believe when they face cultural pressure to conform.

Holding Fast
Don’t spend time lamenting what we believe might have been lost in our culture. Remember that Jesus is going to hold us fast as we seek after him. Let’s hold fast our confession, and teach our children to do the same.


Indestructible JoyThis message is included in the book Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, which is available for purchase in print or as a free download for anyone who signs up for the “Joy for the Next Generations” e-newsletter.

 

Teachers: Is This Book on Your Summer Reading List?

Summer is an ideal time for reading to refresh and energize the soul. For anyone who teaches children and youth it’s also an opportunity to become a better teacher. At only 152 pages, Teaching to Change Lives: Seven Proven Ways to Make Your Teaching Come Alive  by Dr. Howard Hendricks is filled with practical, biblical, seasoned wisdom that is helpful for both new and experienced teachers alike. At Truth78, we highly recommend this book. Our curricula’s teaching philosophy and methodology closely mirrors the principles found in his book.

Here is a brief summary of the seven principles, or “laws” Dr. Hendricks describes followed by examples of how Truth78 curricula implements each:

The Law of the Teacher— If you stop growing today, you stop teaching tomorrow…You cannot communicate out of a vacuum. You cannot impart what you do not possess. If you don’t know it—truly know it—you can’t give it.

Truth78 encourages teachers to take time to prayerfully study each lesson and make your own personal application.

The Law of Education—How people learn determines how you teach.

Truth78 incorporates a teaching philosophy, methodology, and format that is age-appropriate, interactive, and teacher friendly.

The Law of Activity—Maximum learning is always the result of maximum involvement. That’s true, with one condition. The activity in which the learner is involved must be meaningful.

Truth78 encourages students to interact, first and foremost, with the text of Scripture: questioning, organizing, analyzing, evaluating, drawing conclusions, and applying God’s Word. Interactive illustrations and other activities are also used to help students better grasp biblical truth.

The Law of Communication—To truly impart information requires the building of bridges. All communication has three essential components: intellect, emotion, and volitionin other words, thought, feeling, and action. If I know something thoroughly, feel it deeply, and am doing it consistently, I have great potential for being an excellent communicator.

Each lesson of our curricula includes material that serves to instruct the mind, engage the heart, and influence the will.

The Law of the Heart—Teaching that impacts is not head to head, but heart to heart. To the Hebrews, heart embraced the totality of human personality—one’s intellect, one’s emotions, one’s will. Teaching happens when one total personality, transformed by the supernatural grace of God, reaches out to transform another personality by the same grace.

Each lesson includes a significant “Small Group Application” section to encourage and challenge students to personally embrace and apply God’s truth to their lives. Spirit-dependent prayer with and for the students is an essential aspect of this time.

The Law of Encouragement—Teaching tends to be more effective when the learner is motivated to learn. As a teacher—a motivator—you want to help people develop into self-starters. You want them to do what they do, not because you ask them or twist their arm, but because they themselves have chosen to do it. One of the best ways to trigger this choice is to help the learner become aware of his need.

Our lessons are written to fuel spiritual desire by giving students a big vision of the greatness of God and His all-surpassing worth. We continually point students to see that eternal, all-satisfying joy is found in God alone, through faith in Christ.

The Law of Readiness—The teaching-learning process will be most effective when both student and teacher are adequately prepared.

Truth78 provides curricula components and other training to help teachers prepare for the lesson. Additionally, we include practical resources and ideas for helping students in preparation for the lesson material.

These descriptions are too brief to do justice to his main points and practical applications. I urge you to read the whole book. And if you’re a ministry leader, consider buying several copies this summer to pass on to your teachers and small group leaders. It is a wonderful training resource.

 

For the Indestructible Joy of the Next Generation

As a conclusion to his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told a story that, for generations, has been famous among Sunday school children and, for decades, has captured the desire of our hearts for the next generations:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it (Matthew 7:24-27).

We don’t want to raise a generation of fools who grow up hearing, yet neglecting, the words of Jesus. We want our children to be among the wise in their generation. We want them to be equipped for living by faith in the Son of God, walking in His ways, trusting Him in every circumstance, standing firm against the schemes of the devil, forsaking the things of this world and the desires of the flesh, laying up treasures in heaven, holding fast with confidence in His goodness, resting in His sovereignty, running with endurance the race that is set before them, persevering in the full assurance of hope, pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, standing on the promises of God, and enduring in an unshakable faith when the inevitable storms of life blow and beat against them. The fruit of this unshakable faith is an indestructible joy.

As Jesus’ final hour was approaching he warned his disciples that the storms were coming. “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9). On the night before He endured the cross, Jesus said, “Truly, truly…you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful…” But on the heels of that warning, Jesus quickly assured them that their “sorrow will turn into joy….and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:20-22). In other words, the fruit of their unshakable faith was an indestructible joy.

For more than 20 years, the pursuit of this indestructible joy for the next generations has been the heartbeat of Children Desiring God (now Truth78). On several occasions during this span, God used many voices to inspire, encourage, and support thousands in this pursuit as men and women from across this country and around the world gathered in Minnesota, and once in Indiana, for our national conferences. The book Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations is an effort to gather a taste of these timeless messages into one place with the prayer that they will continue to inspire, encourage, and support thousands more. As you read the words of these servants, and perhaps listen to their original messages below let them serve as a reminder of this pursuit that has defined our ministry.


Order a copy of Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations or get a free digital download of the book when you subscribe to the Truth78 e-newsletter.

Listen to the full conference messages related to each book chapter:

David Michael
No Greater Joy

Mark Vroegop
Declaring the Whole Counsel of God

John Piper
Why Theology and Doctrine Matter in Children’s Ministry

Bruce A. Ware
Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God

Sally Michael
Teaching the Difficult Doctrines of God

Timothy Paul Jones
Equipping the Family to Do Discipleship

Jill Nelson
Teaching the Whole Counsel of God
Presenting the Gospel to Children

C.J. Mahaney
Sovereign Grace and the Salvation of Children

Russell Moore
No Longer Tossed To and Fro

Albert Mohler, Jr.
Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform

Wayne Grudem (messages referenced in Afterward)
Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel, Part 1
Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel, Part 2

True Faith Takes Mind, Heart, and Will

As a parent and teacher I find these words from Jesus especially sobering,

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me… (Matthew 15:8-9)

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:26-27)

We can teach our children and students a lot of biblical information–and so we should. We should acquaint them with as much Scripture as possible; it is the only means of making them wise for salvation in Christ and living in a way that is pleasing to Him (2 Timothy 3:16-17). We want their minds to know, understand, and be able to rightly interpret the Bible. However, as Jesus’ words remind us, it is not enough to simply receive knowledge about God. The child who has memorized the most Bible verses in your class, or is always first to find a passage in the Bible, may have a heart far from the Lord. Genuine faith in Christ also involves the heart and will. To leave these unaddressed in our teaching is dangerous–eternally dangerous.

That is why we at Truth78 create resources that aim to instruct the mind, engage the heart, and influence the will. Instruct, engage, and influence–words chosen carefully to define our responsibility while humbling admitting our complete dependence on God to renew the mind, transform the heart, and empower the will of the children and students in our care.

Watch this informative and inspiring 12 minute video in which David and Sally Michael explain the role of the mind, heart, and will in the faith of the next generations. They also give practical examples from their teaching experience of how you can encourage these three aspects of faith in the lives of children.

A Vision for Encouraging Faith in Christ in the Next Generation 

 

Keep Your Children in Worship, for Worship

I remember asking my Dad if I needed to tithe on my small allowance when I was very young. How could a dime make a difference to the work of the church? I wondered. “I think I should wait to start tithing until I have more to give,” I said, as he handed me my dollar. “If I had a hundred dollars and could give ten, it would matter more,” I said. “And it would be a lot easier then, because I’d still have 90 left to spend,” I thought.

“If you don’t learn to do it with a small amount,” he said, “you’ll never do it when you have more. It gets harder, not easier.” I never forgot his wise counsel and have often thanked God for giving me my Dad who taught me the importance of gladly giving back to God. But it’s not just generosity God wants from his people, no matter how young.

He wants their attention. And ultimately, their worship.

It’s easy to look at your squirming, squawking, distracting toddlers and young children and think, surely it will be easier to train them to sit still and listen quietly to the sermon when they’re older. But as with early lessons in giving money back to God, so too, early lessons in giving attention to God have the potential to bear much fruit.

We didn’t start taking our little ones into the service with us until our third child was born. By then, we were attending a mega church where a handful of families who kept their children in the service all clustered together in one area of the auditorium. What started as a practical help to us getting to church on time—thereby avoiding the multi-room, even multi-building drop-off—soon became a matter of conviction. I didn’t realize how formative it could be for young ones to sing along with Mom and Dad, to color quietly while the pastor preached, to ask simple questions on the drive home about what they heard, in an effort to encourage their listening. But I was so glad God changed our minds about taking our kids with us into worship. Just a few other families, amidst hundreds, were enough to help us take courage and break out of the status quo of the “children’s church” model.

It may feel like an overwhelming idea: keeping your children of all ages with you in church. But it is not only possible, it is rich with promise; and likely not as hard a transition as you might fear.

Practice Active Listening

We tend to get good at what we practice. This works to our benefit with piano lessons, but also to our harm with vices. If you hand your child your smart phone or tablet for the short-term gains of keeping her quiet, you will set her on the dangerous path of getting very practiced at tuning out the preaching of God’s Word. You may assume she’ll naturally pay attention when she’s older, but paying attention is something we must work at, no matter our age. We all need help to extend our naturally short attention spans. One of the best ways you can do that is by minimizing, not increasing, distractions.

Sitting quietly and listening in church can be learned by even very young children and it is a worthy goal to level earn how; but not merely for the peace of the people around you in church.

Listen for Salvation

God designed us to believe in Christ by way of our ears. Paul says in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” Hearing is essential to salvation. But merely being in the room where the salvation message is preached faithfully is not enough.

The high number of children raised in the church who leave when they become teenagers shows that it is not enough to get your children to church. According to R.C. Sproul, “A recent survey of people who used to be church members revealed that the main reason they stopped going to church is that they found it boring.” What children do while they are in church matters. How many countless people heard Paul preach but to no saving effect? “In one ear and out the other,” so the saying goes. What made the difference? Luke says in Acts 16:14, “One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.”

Two things stand out as necessary for saving faith: the work of the Lord to regenerate the sinner’s heart, and the active listening of paying attention. This is not a passive posture, but one that anticipates receiving something from the speaker. Pray for your children and with your children that God will give them the ability to pay attention. We have made it our habit to pray as a family in the car on the way to church. My husband asks the Lord to bless the preaching of God’s Word, and to give us ears to hear it. It is so important your children know that you need help to pay attention, too!

Model Joyful Listening

Once there, model paying attention for joy, for love to God, and for being built up by the Word preached. Listening to the active, living Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword, with the power to raise the dead to life and transform them into the image of Christ should not be drudgery. Do your children know you love God’s Word? That you look forward to hearing it preached? Do they see you listening to it and loving it, being challenged and convicted by it, and ultimately, being changed by it?

No matter what you say about the centrality of the Word preached, it is how you behave in relation to it that will have the greatest impact on your children. Your kids need to see you being joyful, expectant, convicted, engaged, transformed—everything but bored. At its heart, the reason quiet listening matters is not primarily so you won’t disturb the people around you—the quiet part—but so that you will hear words of life—the listening part—and be transformed by the Word of Life.

Plan Ahead

A little planning ahead of time can help orient your children to the service and know what to expect.

Set Expectations. Tell your children that the worship service isn’t a time to eat, or talk, or play, but to listen, learn, and believe. Help your children by providing quiet activities that help them listen and serve those in the pews or chairs around them. Consider getting them a church notebook and pen or pencil for drawing pictures of what they’re hearing, and when they’re able to write, to take notes.

Practice. Take an order of service, program, or liturgy—whatever your church provides for following along—and go through it at home, explaining when to speak, when to sing, when to sit, when to stand, etc. Let them know that you want them to join in the activities. Consider listening to the songs that will be sung and sing them together.

Prepare. Feed your children a hearty breakfast so they won’t be distracted by a growling stomach. Take them to the bathroom before the service starts with the goal of remaining in the service without interruption.

It is worth every effort you make to train your children to join in the singing, listen to the preaching, and participate in the praying of God’s Word. This is the path to everlasting life.

*For further encouragement and practical help, Truth78 has created a reproducible PDF for parents and churches, “8 Tips for Helping Your Child Worship.”

 

Showing Honor to Those Who Minister to Your Children

Have you ever been struck by the number of people the apostle Paul mentions at the end of many of his letters? For the most part, we know very little about these men and women. Yet to Paul, they were beloved ministry partners who assisted him in a variety of ways in spreading the gospel and establishing churches. His acknowledgement must have been a great encouragement to each of them; a type of “thank you” to them for their faithful service. But then we shouldn’t be surprised by this since Paul also wrote,

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, (Ephesians 1:16).

Church leaders and parents, have you considered how you might acknowledge, thank, and honor the people who have faithfully, week after week, ministered to the children of your church, as well as your own children, this past year? Let me share two brief experiences of being on the receiving end of such gratitude as a long-time Sunday school teacher. One demonstrates what parents can do and the other what church leadership can do.

What parents can do—In my home office, I have a file folder titled, “Encouragement.” In it are notes—simple, handwritten notes from children I have taught throughout the years. Typically, I received these notes during the last weeks of the class year. Some notes made me laugh. Some made me cry happy tears. Each note is precious. Each brings to mind a memory of a specific child. Each is a source of lasting encouragement.

Parents, please don’t underestimate the power of your six-year-old’s barely legible “thank you” on a note card to a Sunday school teacher. Consider how you might use the next few weeks as an opportunity to teach your children about showing thankfulness for those who have served them. You might use the above verses as discussion starters and then think of a practical way to apply these verses.

What church leadership can do—For years our church hosted the annual Appreciation Banquet for all children’s and youth ministry volunteers. We were treated to a wonderful meal and/or dessert, a small gift, and most importantly, testimonies from parents and students and message from Pastor David Michael. We went away feeling honored and encouraged (and for many of us, we wanted to “sign-up” to teach again next year!).

Whether you help your children write a simple note, give a verbal—“Thank you so much for teaching!” —or participate in a banquet or giving a small gift, these are just a few examples of encouraging teachers. A little can go a long way toward providing biblical encouragement which builds up the body of Christ and is pleasing in God’s sight.

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