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Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 6-8

Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children

As children’s ministry leaders and teachers, one of our goals in the classroom should be to encourage and help children grow in their proficiency in reading and understanding the Bible. To that end, the methodology and tools we use are important. For example,

1. Teach precept upon precept by introducing specific Bible skills and concepts at appropriate ages

2. Teach in a way that encourages the children to be actively involved with the text

How might you do this when teaching a classroom of 1st– or 2nd-grade children? Here are a few practical suggestions for encouraging the first point:

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Parenting and Teaching from a Thankful Heart

Parenting and Teaching from a Thankful Heart

Pastor David Michael recently shared these words from C.H. Spurgeon during Children Desiring God staff devotion time. I wonder what impact it would have on our parenting and teaching ministries if we carefully reflected on Spurgeon’s remarks and questions regarding Psalm 103:2—“Forget not all his benefits.”

It is a delightful and profitable occupation to mark the hand of God in the lives of ancient saints, and to observe

his goodness in delivering them,
his mercy in pardoning them,
and his faithfulness in keeping his covenant with them.

But would it not be even more interesting and profitable for us to remark the hand of God in our own lives? Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least

as full of God,
as full of his goodness and of his truth,
as much a proof of his faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before? (more…)

Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers

Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers

Have you prayed for your children today? Do you only pray for them when you are with them? How often do you pray for or with your students on Sunday morning?

“It is easy for us to set our days on cruise control and completely push the Lord out. Prayer is our only vehicle that will give us wisdom, strength and the correct words to reach the next generation.” —Kristin Gilbert

In this seminar, Praying for the Next Generation and Your Volunteers, Kristin Gilbert discusses some of the obstacles we face that prevent us from having a fervent prayer life such as wandering minds, fear, laziness and busyness. She equips you with practical steps to fight these obstacles and encourages you to pray through specific areas of your children’s ministry as she shares testimonies of answered prayers in her church.

“When I step into my office, the first thing I do, before I open up my computer and see the list of emails, is to pray for 15 minutes. Schedule time into your day to pray.” —Kristin Gilbert

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Passing the Baton in the Midst of a Hostile Crowd

Passing the Baton in the Midst of a Hostile Crowd

Parents and ministry leaders, here is something to ponder:

Passing on the [Christian] faith has been compared to handing off a baton in a relay race. And there are many things to commend that analogy to us. There is a real gospel—the baton—to pass on. It must be passed on individually. The one with the baton has to hold it out, and the one receiving the baton has to reach back for it and close his hand around it. There is a time to pass on the baton, the exchange zone, which does not last forever. All of these are excellent pictures to help us think through this subject.

There is a problem with this illustration, however. We are not handing off the baton at a friendly track meet—rather this exchange takes place on a battlefield! We are attempting to pass on this baton of the gospel while we and our children are being shot at! And what about those observing in the stands? A few are cheering us on, but many in the stands—the world—are laughing at our child’s attempt to run the race. (more…)

From Genesis to Revelation: Disability and His Sure Promises of Help

From Genesis to Revelation: Disability and His Sure Promises of Help

When a child or adult with disabilities comes to your church, are you filled with excited anticipation or dread? Are you glad they have come, but afraid of doing or saying something wrong—which prevents you from doing anything at all?

Through over 450 references, the Bible unashamedly address God’s sovereignty over disease and disability. God equips His people to serve and be served by those who live atypical lives.

God Equips His PeopleWe live in a culture which denigrates people with disabilities, prefers that we kill them before they are born, or that we kill them when they are toward the end of their life and their usefulness. God has a different perspective about this. Those He creates in His image, who live atypical lives, are intended to be agents of change in our churches.

Disability is a spectrum we cannot understand and God has made each person unique—with or without a disability. Because of this, there is no program or one size fits all approach to disability ministry. In this seminar, John Knight casts a vision for ministering to families dealing with disability and gives you practical steps to begin: gathering a prayer team, thinking counter-culturally, knowing the specific needs of your families, training your people, being willing to make mistakes in love as you figure things out and persevering in ministry. (more…)

Teaching Means Active Engagement

Teaching Means Active Engagement

In college, I had to take a dreaded year of physics. I cringed at the thought of it! But much to my amazement, I ended up enjoying that year. It became one of my favorite classes. Why the change of heart? Because I had a great teacher who actively engaged us in the subject matter. He had us thinking, questioning, and seeing the relevance of physics to almost every aspect of life: Content + Teaching Style…both mattered.

I recently read a Bible lesson written for older elementary students. What was disheartening is not the content per se—it was biblically accurate and theologically sound—but the manner in which it was communicated to the students. The material was simply “presented.” The students were “talked at.” They were not encouraged in any meaningful way to engage with the text (or even open their Bibles), or with the teacher. Why is this a problem? Because, among other things… (more…)

Preemptive Wisdom + Drawing for a Free Devotional!

Preemptive Wisdom

In a recent “Ask Pastor John” post, John Piper addressed a question from a young man—a teenager— regarding his desire to be well-liked and popular while, at the same time, being concerned about being godly. Here was part of John’s response:

Preemptive WisdomI think being driven by coolness is deadly. The problem with wanting to be cool in our culture is that cool is almost always defined by the fool. So, it is almost always: Cool = Fool.

If you want to know what a fool is, read the book of Proverbs in the Bible. In fact, I think every teenager, especially boys, should read Proverbs over and over and over again, because of how clearly the Proverbs expose the stupidity of much that is considered cool… (more…)

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 2

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 2

Read Part 1 for suggestions 1-5.

Somewhere along the way in our parenting, one or more of our children will likely express the above sentiment on any given Sunday. Yesterday’s post presented five suggestions for addressing the issue. Today I would like to present five more. Again, keep in mind that how you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

6. Consider if any of your words and attitudes toward the church have contributed to your child’s perception.

Our words and attitudes make a great impression on our children. What we say aloud and the tone in which we say it often turns up in our children. If I, as a parent, establish a pattern of verbally criticizing the sermon, or the singing or other things related to the church, should I be surprised if my children don’t want to go to church? Ouch! I must ask, “Is my child’s negative attitude toward church in any way sparked and fueled by me?” If so, I need to confess this before the Lord, repent, ask His forgiveness, and commit to guard my heart and words in the future. I should also humbly confess to my children any sinful attitudes or words they have observed in me. (more…)

“My child doesn’t want to go to church!”—Part 1

My Child Doesn't Want to Go to Church - Part 1

Sadly, I’ve heard this statement from more than a few parents over the years. Some even say, “My child hates to go to church.” It can turn Sunday mornings into a miserable experience for parents and children alike. I have had some desperate, frazzled parents arrive at the classroom with a young child who is literally kicking and screaming. What’s a parent to do? Here are five general suggestions that may be helpful. How you apply each may look very different depending on the age of the child—but the basic principles are the same.

  1. Set aside time alone with your child to discuss his or her negative attitude toward church.

Ask specific questions that aim for the heart of the matter. This may take some time. Gently ask probing questions: Did something specific happen in class? What about the service don’t you like? What would you want changed? Sometimes children and youth are embarrassed to express hidden fears and anxieties. “I hate going” may be, in reality, “I don’t want to have to read aloud in class.” Or, “None of the other kids talk to me.” On the other hand, it could be that the child is expressing a more serious spiritual rebellion. Listen to your child. Know and clarify the real issues before responding and taking action. Acknowledge true feelings, but help your child to reflect on his or her feelings in light of God’s Word. Our feelings and emotions need to come under the authority of Scripture. As parents, we need to be careful in helping our children see this. We must also help them recognize unrealistic expectations.  (more…)

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…)

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