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Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Growing up, one the most important and regular features of our family life was dinnertime. Sitting down and eating together was a high priority. After the dinner prayer, and throughout the meal, conversation flowed as we shared the day’s experiences and a myriad of other topics. Along with the obvious nutritional necessity and benefits, it was a time of family love, laughter, encouragement, and more. I can’t imagine, as a child, being excluded from this central aspect of family life!

In an even more profound way, the corporate worship service is one of the most important and regular activities of the family of God. Here is how Pastor David Michael explains it:

  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.

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A Summer of Worshiping Together—Let the Children Come!

A Summer of Worshiping Together

Summer will be quickly upon us. It’s a time for families to experience a change of pace—an opportunity to explore a variety of adventures and activities with our children. Many churches also take advantage of this time to provide families and children with new ministry experiences. But here is something I would like both church and family to consider this summer: How about prioritizing and encouraging families together in worship this summer. Yes, the whole family—parents sitting along with their children (let’s say 4 years old and up as a reasonable goal) during the weekly corporate worship service.

For many churches, this is already the norm… but maybe there are parents who need some extra encouragement and practical help. Or, maybe your church has not encouraged this and you want to think through and revaluate that decision. In the next several posts, I will be highlighting helpful information from Pastor David Michael’s seminar, “’Let The Children Come To Me’ in Worship,” in which he articulated four benefits of having children experience the corporate worship service:

  • A Summer of Worshiping TogetherThere is spiritual benefit for children who participate.
  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.
  • It provides children with an intergenerational experience, and thus the opportunity to be influenced, and to benefit from the example of others, especially their parents.
  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

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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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Discipleship-Oriented Resources

Discipleship-Oriented Resources

Yesterday’s post pointed to the meaning of Christian discipleship in our parenting and teaching. With that in mind, it becomes extremely important to choose resources for the home and church that serve to foster discipleship.

At Children Desiring God, we want the next generations to be serious, passionate, joyful disciples of Christ, who are fully equipped and prepared to deny themselves, take up their cross and daily follow Jesus. To that end, our curricula emphasize a discipleship orientation that fosters life-long instruction in and practice of the Christian life. We aim to accomplish this through the following:

  • developing a carefully designed scope and sequence of teaching content that progressively moves children and youth toward greater spiritual growth.
  • using a relational, interactive teaching style in which the evidences of Christian discipleship are clearly communicated, visibly demonstrated, and faithfully encouraged.
  • intentionally providing resources and training for the home that promote and equip parents for their responsibility in discipling their children.

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The Gospel Alphabet—Jesus Saves!

The Gospel Alphabet - Jesus Saves!

One of the very first words my grandson learned to write was his name, “David.” Five letters of the alphabet, written in a specific order, and they now identify a little boy. Each letter significant. Each unique. Each letter necessary for his name.

In the past several posts, I have used the example of teaching children the alphabet to highlight the necessity of teaching children a type of “Gospel alphabet.” This alphabet consists of foundational truths—antecedents—that are meant to help our children properly understand the person and work of Jesus. In brief summary, children need to be taught…

Introducing these truths in a slow, step-by-step, progression is an important part of our children’s formal Bible education. These truths provide the necessary foundation for understanding these two words:

Jesus saves.

Two very short words. Only six distinct letters…yet incomparable in their greatness, worth, and meaning! But unless we have given children some antecedents for understanding these two words, their grasp of the riches of the Gospel and the glory of Jesus will be sorely deficient. (more…)

The Gospel Alphabet—Sin

The Gospel Alphabet—Sin

Read Part 1: Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet
Read Part 2: The Gospel Alphabet—Teaching the “Antecedents”
Read Part 3: The Gospel Alphabet—A Robust Doctrine of God
Read Part 4: The Gospel Alphabet—Who We Are in Relation to God

I love the scene in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King where Frodo and Sam are making their last, desperate effort to destroy the one ring in the depths of Mt. Doom. What makes the final destruction of the ring so incredibly magnificent and satisfying is the context. Before that, we have been taken on a long journey that has introduced us to the magnitude of evil, despair, and ruin brought about by the ring and its influence. You don’t simply go from a peaceful, idealistic life in the Shire to the triumphant destruction of the ring. The story would have lost its grandeur and appeal if author J.R.R. Tolkien had simply done the latter.

But now consider the story communicating ultimate reality to us as revealed in the historical narrative of Scripture, and consider these words from D. A. Carson:

There can be no agreement as to what salvation is unless there is agreement as to that from which salvation rescues us. The problem and the solution hang together: the one explicates the other. It is impossible to gain a deep grasp of what the cross achieves without plunging into a deep grasp of what sin is; conversely, to augment one’s understanding of the cross is to augment one’s understanding of sin.

To put the matter another way, sin establishes the plotline of the Bible.

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The Gospel Alphabet—Teaching the “Antecedents”

The Gospel Alphabet - Teaching the "Antecedents"

Read Part 1: Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet

Here is a really important insight 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…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.

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

For children to rightly grasp the biblical truth that “Jesus is God,” and also the meaning of His saving work accomplished through the Gospel, we must teach them some crucial “antecedents.” By way of illustrating this in relation to teaching children, let’s imagine these antecedents to be the alphabet. (See Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet) (more…)

Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet

Giving Children a Gospel Alphabet

We all know and appreciate the progression of a child’s ability to read and write. To begin with, it’s an informal process as infants and toddlers listen to the conversations of those around them and begin to pick up bits and pieces of language—words and their meanings. But at the same time, we also understand the need for intentional, age-appropriate teaching. For example, we help young children connect the objects they see with corresponding words. We speak to them at “their level.” Then more formal instruction takes place as we teach them individual letters. We demonstrate how to spell and sound out simple words. Next comes constructing sentences and applying the rules of grammar. On and on, step-by-step, this process slowly progresses. Over time, both the formal and informal instruction serve to produce a vibrant, functional literacy.

I think this example illustrates something very important about teaching the Gospel to children. There is a place and necessity for both informal and formal instruction. Children Desiring God curricula would be an example of formal instruction. By design, formal instruction will take a somewhat different (and much slower) approach. It incorporates an age-appropriate, step-by-step progression. But that’s where the misunderstanding and frustration may enter in. Take for example these concerns that are sometimes expressed about our curricula: (more…)

2 Timothy 2:15 Students

2 Timothy 2:15 Students

Here are is an exhortation from David and Sally Michael from their conference message, “A Vision for Biblical Literacy in the Next Generation”:

Children need to learn how to rightly handle the Word through incremental age-appropriate instruction in studying Scripture through the use of inductive Bible study skills.

Exposure to the whole counsel of God is vital, but children must also be taught to rightly understand the Word. Our children and young people need the same prodding that Paul gave to his spiritual son:

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15 (more…)

The Call to Make Disciples

The Call to Make Disciples

Before ascending into heaven, Jesus gave every Christian in every century a commission with eternal significance:

…”All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”—Matthew 28:18-20, ESV

Our calling is very clear—to “make disciples.” This is the greatest work in which to invest our lives! Christ’s mandate to us is to see spiritual interest awaken, new birth come forth, and then foster steady steps toward maturity in Christ…but it is a mandate wrought with privilege and true joy. (more…)

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