Archive - Encouragement RSS Feed

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…)

“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…)

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…)

Page 9 of 29« First...«7891011»20...Last »