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Helping Our Children When Church Life Gets Messy

Helping Children When Church Life Gets Messy

I love the church, and I am so blessed that my family has had the great privilege of living in community with hundreds of godly men and women over the years. In regards to my children, the local church loved, equipped, encouraged, and exhorted them in their walk with the Lord. They have received a wonderful spiritual legacy, as countless pastors, leaders, teachers, and members have exemplified a life of faith—displaying what it means to love, trust, and walk in obedience to Christ.

But we must also be prepared to help our children when church life gets “messy.” For example, suppose a professing Christian you have highly respected for years leaves the church and abandons the faith. Or maybe your church is in the midst of a conflict between members, evidenced by public gossip and slander. Or a much-loved couple teaching in your children’s in Sunday school announces they are separating. These kinds of situations can make an impression on our children’s hearts and minds…and sometimes that impression can seriously taint their understanding of the church, the Christian faith, and God. Therefore, parents and teachers need to be prepared to carefully guide our children in such a way that they will not be shaken by these events. (more…)

Enhancing Your Child’s Classroom Experience

Enhancing Your Child's Classroom Experience

Over the years of teaching Sunday school, I’ve been on the receiving end of numerous comments and even some complaints from parents about their child’s classroom experience. Some of the complaints were very legitimate concerns identified by the parents that resulted in positive changes in the classroom. Others issues needed to be addressed primarily by the parents as they worked with their child on specific areas of their behavior. In my experience, one of the best ways to enhance the classroom experience for the children is to proactively clarify and understand expectations for teachers and classroom leaders, parents, and children.

For example, here are a few basic expectations for teachers and classroom leaders:

  • Provide a safe, welcoming, structured, age-appropriate environment for the students.
  • Provide well-prepared, theologically sound, faith-nurturing Bible lessons that are presented in an age-appropriate, interesting, and God-honoring manner.
  • Design a class structure that is attentive to the needs of the children while emphasizing and maximizing spiritual instruction. (more…)

What’s Your Family’s Favorite Day of the Week?

What's Your Family's Favorite Day of the Week?

I read this short article, “The Best Day of the Week…for Your Kids” by Nick Kennicott and was deeply convicted. Oh, to have the opportunity to turn back the clock and do things differently with my own children! Not that we didn’t, for the most part, enjoy Sundays as a family, but I wish we had been more intentional in our approach. Here is how Kennicott begins his article:

Several years ago, I was leading a seminar on family worship at a conference and a man told me, “As a child, I always dreaded Sundays. My parents made it miserable.” I was sad to hear about his experience and the only thing I could think to say was, “Well, then they were obviously doing something wrong!” By way of contrast, Joel Beeke once explained that he woke his children up every Sunday and say, “It’s time to get up. Today is the best day of the week!” I hope the accusations leveled against Christians who have the highest possible view of the Lord’s Day—namely, that we just sit around on the Lord’s Day making sure we and our children do not handle, do not taste, do not touch (Colossians 2:21)—aren’t true! Jesus reminds us, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). So, if we’re to use it rightly and call the Sabbath a delight (Isaiah 58:13), we need to think about how we can cultivate that delight instead of dread in our children’s (and our own) hearts on the Lord’s Day. (more…)

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 2

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 2

Yesterday’s post highlighted the importance of our children having other godly people in their lives. My husband and I did this through a variety of means, from the time our children were very young. Here are a few suggestions from Chap Bettis about how you can begin and foster this process:

Host an intergenerational Bible study…These nights were built into our schedule and created space for the children to spend time with other adults. According to one of my children, the Bible study with these other families [and singles] was an important influence in her walking with the Lord in later years. Few of these studies were dazzling. We just did life together with individuals who, though imperfect, were seeking to honor the Lord. (more…)

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples—Part 1

Connecting Your Children to Godly Examples - Part 1

I cannot overstate the importance of Christian mentors in the lives of our two children. One older couple in particular stands out in both of their lives. Even now, as married adults, this relationship is tender, enduring, and a continued source of encouragement for our children and their spouses. But that relationship didn’t just come about by accident—it was intentionally sought out and fostered, beginning when our children were very young. This mentoring relationship and others like it came about through deliberately connecting our children with godly examples within our local church. Little did we know at the time, as young parents, the rich benefits we and our children would reap from these relationships.

With that experience in mind, I was so pleased that Chap Bettis included an entire chapter titled “Connecting Your Children to Others” in his new book The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ. Here is a brief excerpt: (more…)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas

 

May your and you family cherish time together today to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior of the world, the King of Kings.

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining;
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices;
For yonder breaks, a new and glorious morn.
(more…)

Helping Our Children Learn to Be Content

Helping Our Children to Be Content

Years ago, several of us from Children Desiring God had the great privilege of going to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to visit with our ministry partners there. As many know, Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world. For those of us accustomed to western prosperity, it was an eye-opening and heart-transforming experience. One day of our visit we were taken on a walk through an area of the city that was built around the garbage dump—with people making their “living” by what could be gleaned from the trash. We saw dozens of children that day, including a group of children in tattered clothes playing with an old, dirty ball. What I found amazing about these children were the smiles on their faces and their giggles and laughs as they played together.

I wonder:  Would my grandchildren be content in this situation?

Would my children? Would I?…Honestly, would I be able to say with Paul,

 …for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13 ESV) (more…)

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Incentives. Prizes. Class recognition. All are legitimate ways to encourage and reward students for Bible memory. In my first-grade class, we always took a few moments every week to encourage Bible memory and acknowledge children who had memorized verses in the past week. We also took time to celebrate special milestones, such as when a child had memorized 25 verses. That said, there are some careful considerations I think we should take into account with all of the above.  Depending on our manner and tone, we can either serve to encourage God-honoring thankfulness, or self-centered pride. As much as possible, I want to foster the former, and not the latter.

Here is an example of what I mean by this: Suppose you want to recognize a child in your class for memorizing 10 verses. Along with this recognition and maybe even rewarding him or her with a small prize, consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement such as… (more…)

A Good Reminder this Christmas

A Good Reminder This Christmas

Over the years, our family has made some drastic changes in how we celebrate Christmas in regard to gifts—a lot fewer “things” under the tree, tighter budgets, spiritually beneficial resources, homemade gifts, choosing a charity to give to, thrift store and garage sale finds, etc. And it has been wonderful for everyone involved! Here is a great reminder from Randy Alcorn:

Consider the typical American Christmas. When the annual obstacle course through crowded malls culminates on the Big Day, what’s the fruit? We find a trail of shredded wrapping paper and a pile of broken, abandoned, and unappreciated toys. Far from being filled with a spirit of thankfulness for all that Christmas means, the children are grabby, crabby, picky, sullen, and ungrateful—precisely because they’ve been given so much. (more…)

What Happened to Their “Faith”?

What Happened to Their "Faith"?

The older I get, the more I have seen this and wept. Sadly, too many of the students I once taught 15 and even 20 years ago have abandoned any pretense of the Christian faith. The great majority of these students grew up with godly Christian parents. What’s a parent to do? What’s the church to do? Last week Tim Challies had an important post, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith.”

Few things are sadder to witness than people who once professed faith leaving it all behind. This is especially true when those people were raised in Christian homes by God-fearing parents. These children were given every opportunity to put their faith in Jesus but determined instead to turn their backs on him. Why would they make such a tragic choice?

What Happened to Their "Faith"Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind.

• They leave because they have troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
• They leave because their faith is not working for them.
• They leave because they have allowed other things to take priority.
• They leave because they never personally owned their faith.

…As parents we are to commit ourselves to the task of raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to teach them the facts of the faith, to show how it answers our questions and meets our needs, to insist that the good news of the gospel must be personally apprehended. We do what God calls us to do, we do it to the best of our abilities, and we entrust the results—and our children—to God’s good providence.

whychristiankidsrebelA book I would recommend for parents is Tim Kimmel’s Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope. Even if your children have not rebelled or shown any indication of rejecting the faith, this book has some very helpful biblical counsel for all parents to consider and implement in their parenting.

 

 

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