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Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation

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We were honored to have Mark Vroegop launch our Children Desiring God conference with his message on Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation. Mark guided us through six ways we can model our ministry after Paul’s ministry. Video of the conference keynotes will be available at a later date.

Acts 20:17-38

This passage is important because in the final moments of a person’s life, you hear the distillation of his ministry to a people. What do we hear from Paul in these moments? How do his words relate to ministry to children and youth?

Six Ways Our Ministry to Children and Youth Should Be Modeled After Paul’s Ministry

1. Personally

Teaching in a life-on-life context. Declaring the whole counsel of God is a personal, life-on-life issue. The word of God transmitted through the life of another person is not just a tool, but the foundation of personal ministry.

2. Seriously

Teaching has culpability because James says that those who teach will be judged with greater strictness. Paul’s ministry was of such a character that he would know he was innocent if any of them were eternally lost. This suggests that innocence on the part of a teacher is possible. But, there are many people who have never considered the question of how to declare the whole counsel of God in teaching. Because of this, some teachers are guilty.

Children Desiring God Blog // Mark Vroegop Header

3. Faithfully

Teaching with courageous consistency. To “shrink back” from the whole counsel of God would be to not have faith in the entirety of the message of the Bible. To faithfully teach the Bible is to teach every part of it, not just the parts we like.

4. Thoroughly

Thorough teaching is the kind of teaching that encompasses biblical Christianity in a unified, balanced and comprehensive way. Nothing important is left out. Unified teaching connects the content of the Bible to the redemptive arc of the Bible, and demonstrates that all of those things relate. Balanced teaching helps children to know what it most important. It means that you teach the “ands” in the Bible; that the paradoxes of God’s character matter. Comprehensive teaching wrestles with big-picture questions that span the length of the canon.

5. Urgently

Paul was aware of the dangers all around and he urged teachers to be on guard. He knew what the human heart was capable, and he knew the devices of the enemy, which made teaching the whole counsel of God all the more important to him. Today, we live in a postmodern culture, in which truth is under attack. Knowing the whole counsel of God helps us stay grounded in truth in the midst of this culture. We must declare the whole counsel of God urgently because the voices in our culture are getting louder, and more distinct from Biblical truth.

Confidently

We are in good care when God is sovereign and the Word of God is a part of our lives. God is sovereign and his word still has power. The Word not only gives life, but helps us persevere to the end. The grace of God and the Word of God guarantees that our children who love Jesus will persevere to the end.

Watch Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler and John Piper Today on the National Conference Live Stream

National Conference

 

Today we have the honor of hearing from Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler and John Piper at the Children Desiring God National Conference. We hope you will be able to join us on the Live Stream!

Join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Live Stream Schedule

Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God
8:30 AM – 10:15 AM
Bruce Ware

Dr. Bruce A. Ware has taught theology for over 30 years in several leading evangelical colleges and seminaries. Since 1998, Bruce has served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, where he is the T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology and chairman of the Department of Christian Theology. Bruce has written numerous books, including his theology book for children, Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God , and most recently The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ . He has served as the president of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, as well as the Evangelical Theological Society. Bruce and his wife, Jodi, have two daughters, Bethany and Rachel, and three grandchildren.

Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God
Under Pressure to Conform
1:30 PM – 2:45 PM
Albert Mohler

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, one of the largest seminaries in the world. On his website,AlbertMohler.com , Al writes commentaries on moral, cultural, and theological issues. He also hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. Viewed as a leader among American evangelicals, Al is widely sought as a columnist and commentator by the nation’s leading newspapers and news programs and has authored several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth . Al and his wife Mary have two children, Katie and Christopher and one grandson.

Believing the Whole Counsel of God:
How Our Children Can Know the Bible Is True
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM
John Piper

Dr. John Piper is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminar. For over 30 years, John served as senior pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He’s the author of more than 50 books and more than 30 years of his preaching and teaching is available for free at desiringGod.org). John and his wife, Noël, have five children, Barnabas, Karsten, Benjamin, Abraham and Talitha, and twelve grandchildren.

 

Can’t make it to the conference? Join the LIVE STREAM!

National Conference Live Stream

We know many of you are not able to join us in person at the National Conference this week, but we don’t want you to miss the wonderful training we will be hearing on teaching the whole counsel of God to children.

You are invited to join us on the conference LIVE STREAM!

For the very first time, Children Desiring God is providing you special, free access to the three Foundations of God-Centered Children’s Ministry sessions and all five plenary sessions. Watch the blog Thursday for the Live Stream link, or simply visit Children Desiring God.

You can also join in the conversation online by using the hashtag #CDGNatCon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

National Conference Live Stream Schedule

 

 

On Our Way!

Children Desiring God Blog // National Conference

 

The big week has arrived and the CDG staff is crazy-busy with last-minute details and travel plans for our National Conference at College Park Church in Indianapolis. We whole-heartedly believe that our conference theme, “Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God—What’s at Stake for the Next Generation,” is an extremely timely topic for our churches and families at this juncture of history.

Here are a few things we are eagerly anticipating at the conference…

  • Enjoying Christ-honoring fellowship with hundreds those attending the conference.
  • Being exhorted and encouraged through the teaching of Mark Vroegop, Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and David Michael.
  • Stirring up one another for ministry fruitfulness through a wide variety of seminars focusing on parenting, and children’s and youth ministries.
  • Sharing our joys, challenges, and testimonies for our mutual encouragement.
  • Praying together so that our hearts and minds may strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit for the labors that Christ has set before us, so that God may be glorified in all we do.

Would you please be in prayer for the conference this week? Here are a few specific requests:

  • Safe travel and health for all the attendees
  • That all the last-minute details will come together
  • A spirit of unity, love, thankfulness, patience, and Christ-like humility to pervade
  • Hearts and minds that are tender to the instruction of God’s word
  • Conference speakers, seminar leaders, and volunteers—for grace-fueled strength and wisdom

Thank you for your prayers!

 

Catechizing: Bring it Back!

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This week, I’ve had the privilege of getting a sneak-peak at Sally Michael’s new seminar, “Catechism: Out-of-Date, or a Tried-and-True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths?,” which she will be presenting at our National Conference (a mere two and a half weeks away!). It is an excellent seminar in which she draws upon the time-tested wisdom of our Christian forebears. Here is one sample of one such man. Sally quotes John Murray from his article titled, “Catechizing: A Forgotten Practice”:

The foundation of all religion, Isaac Watts reminds us, is laid in knowledge. Scripture attaches great importance to knowledge and gives a foremost place to the mind and understanding. It is through the mind that truth enters the man, influencing the affections and directing the will. True it is that knowledge may remain in the mind and, without the influences of the quickening, life-giving Spirit, be inoperative in the life, yet the fact remains that knowledge—knowledge of truth—is the very basis of the Christian life. Hence the need for instruction in the doctrines of Christianity both for the believer and the unbeliever. Ignorance and error are effects of the Fall and it is upon them that Satan’s kingdom is built. Knowledge and truth are the grand weapons by which it is overthrown and Christ’s kingdom established in the individual and in the world.

[Murray] comments that the:

 …new antipathy to dogmas, creeds and catechisms virtually put catechizing out of the Church. Today we are reaping the results of that false approach to the Christian life. Ignorance and unbelief are rampant in our land, the Church is without an authoritative message, and often even evangelical Christians are weak and unstable. Is there not cause to ask whether the time has not come to revive the art and practice of catechizing?

(cited from the link found at www.monergism.com)

[Sally says], “I agree with John Murray. Let’s bring catechizing back to the church. Let’s not be afraid to teach the doctrines of the faith to our children. Let’s put a solid foundation beneath them that will give them answers to the assault of the postmodern worldview, and let’s arm them to face the challenges of life with a faith built on the solid understanding of who God is and the unshakable hope of His promises to His people.”

(Image courtesy of Paul at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

Suggested Seminar Tracks for the National Conference

Children Desiring God Blog // National Conference

Don’t Forget to Reserve Your Conference Seminars!

We are excited to have are over 60 seminar options for you to choose from at our nation conference, including both classic favorites and brand new topics. You will be able to attend four seminars and receive practical training on the ins and outs of children’s ministry, teaching and parenting. Our incredible line up of seminar presenters include pastors, authors, teachers, children’s ministry leaders, youth pastors, parents, an engineer, missionary and college professor who are all passionate about teaching the next generation to set their hope in God…and equipping you to do you same.

Seminars seats are filling up quickly! If you are registered for the conference, be sure to reserve your seminars now to make sure you can attend your first choices. Seminar selections must be chosen by March 31.

Download the Scheduling Worksheet to help you determine your choices and plan your seminar schedule. Don’t know where to start? Here are some suggested seminar tracks to get you started.

Children Desiring God Blog // Suggested Seminar Tracks

Not registered for the conference yet? Register today and save!

Children Desiring God Blog // National Conference Sale

 

 

A Timely Message

Children Desiring God Blog // National Conference

For years, while the Children Desiring God leadership team pondered and prayed about future conference themes and speakers, I harbored the hope that someday we would be able to have Dr. Albert Mohler speak. It seemed a long shot. After all, he is not only president of one of the world’s largest and most influential seminaries, he is also a much requested speaker at numerous “first-tier” theological conferences. So, what a shock and a joy—and a testament to God’s gracious providence—that Dr. Mohler will be one of our plenary speakers in Indianapolis. And I believe that his message to us on Friday April 15, Holding Fast the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform” will be especially timely in this day and age. Please consider joining us as we hope to be challenged and encouraged by Dr. Mohler.

Here is a little of what we have to look forward to:

 

Children Desiring God Blog // Albert MohlerDr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. serves as the president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, one of the largest seminaries in the world. On his website, AlbertMohler.com, Al writes commentaries on moral, cultural, and theological issues. He also hosts two programs: “The Briefing,” a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview; and “Thinking in Public,” a series of conversations with the day’s leading thinkers. Viewed as a leader among American evangelicals, Al is widely sought as a columnist and commentator by the nation’s leading newspapers and news programs and has authored several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth. Al and his wife Mary have two children, Katie and Christopher and one grandson.

 

 

Diamonds, or Rock Candy?

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A while back, our family visited the National Gem Collection in Washington, D.C. It contains an amazing display of some of the world’s most beautiful gems—diamonds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and more. Each gem is carefully displayed to reflect its many dazzling facets. Each stuns the eyes of the beholder. The value of the collection is beyond comprehension. A priceless national treasure…and yet just infinitesimal—a drop in an infinite ocean—in comparison to the greatness and worth of God!

In his classic work, The Knowledge of the Holy—The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life, A.W. Tozer writes:

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us…Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

The heaviest obligation lying upon the Christian Church today is to purify and elevate her concept of God until it is once more worthy of Him—and of her. In all her prayers and labors this should have first place. We do the greatest service to the next generation of Christians by passing on to them undimmed and undiminished that noble concept of God which we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.

(copyright©1961, pages 1, 4)

Too often, the church has fallen short of this obligation, especially in regard to children. It has mistakenly assumed that children do not need, nor can they grasp a biblical vision of God. So the many-faceted, brilliant treasure of who God is, is “brought down to size” and diminished. Sadly, children are given something akin to a piece of rock candy—a gem look-alike that tastes sweet for a moment, but soon dissolves and leaves them dangerously malnourished and “un-awed.”

What about your own church and it’s ministry to children and youth? Do the classes, programs, curricula, etc. rightly reflect and communicate the beauty and awesome grandeur of the incomparable greatness and worth of God? How would you go about evaluating this? Are there specific changes that could and should be made in order to elevate the concept of God in children’s and youth ministries? (And also in our homes!)

Parents, here is something you can do toward that end: Encourage the children’s and youth ministry leaders at your church to attend at our National Conference. The line-up of the following plenary speakers—Mark Vroegop, John Piper, Bruce Ware, Albert Mohler, David Michael—reflects our deep desire to pass on to the next generation… “that noble concept of God that we received from our Hebrew and Christian fathers of generations past.” Here is a special invitation you can pass on to your children’s and youth ministry leaders.

(Image courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)

 

 

 

 

Vroegop on “Why Do Children Need to Know the Whole Counsel of God?”

Children Desiring God Blog // Why Do Children Need to Know the Whole Counsel of God

Listen Here

Hi, my name is Mark Vroegop and I am privileged to be the lead pastor at College Park Church in Indianapolis. I’m also privileged to be one of the plenary speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference coming up April 14–16.

The theme for the conference is really important. We will explore how to connect the whole counsel of God to the next generations. In the book of Acts, chapter 20, the apostle Paul said to the Ephesian elders that he did not shrink from declaring to them the whole counsel of God. What that means is that over a two and a half year period, Paul helped the people of Ephesus understand the significant realities of who and what God is, as communicated through the revealed Word of God. And it means that creation, the fall, redemption and restoration are key themes that are woven throughout all of Scripture.

The teachings of the Bible should not be viewed as little marbles in a bowl, but rather as a string of pearls all connected together. As it relates to children, it is incredibly important that they understand who God is as their creator, the nature of the fall, and that they are sinners. Then, that they would know the connectedness between their own sin and the need for a savior through Christ–and also that there is coming a day when Christ will return and restore everything that is wrong in the world and make it all right again–that Jesus is indeed coming again. So all of these themes–creation, fall, redemption and restoration–are part of the whole counsel of God. A child has to know that God is creator and that they are accountable. They have to know they are a sinner and that they need a savior.

Children Desiring God Blog // Why Do Children Need to Know the Whole Counsel of GodYou know, my wife has been teaching our kindergarten Sunday school class here at our church for a number of years. In particular, one of the lessons that she teaches is on the Ten Commandments. It is remarkable–when she comes home from teaching that very first lesson, she reports that when she has asked the children “How many of you know that you are sinners?”, invariably, the vast majority of them do not know that they are sinners. But you know what they do know? They do know that their brother or sister is a sinner. The reason we need the whole counsel of God is to help little children be convinced that they, in fact, are human beings who are in rebellion against God. What’s more, in order for them to know that, they need to know who God is and know the beauty of what the cross is all about. The Bible is more than just a collection of stories or an encyclopedia of biblical truth. It is theology stacked on theology stacked on theology stacked on theology. It is the whole counsel of God.

We are going to dig into that theme and see the significance of not only what it means for the Bible to be the whole counsel of God, but how vital it is that our children understand that truth from a very early age. I hope you will come and join us because this theme, this concept of the whole counsel of God, is vital for the health of the church, for the spiritual life of our children and because our culture needs the next generation of believers to understand the whole counsel of the Word of God.

2016 National ConferenceWe are excited to welcome Mark Vroegop as one of our keynote speakers at the Children Desiring God National Conference. He will expound on this topic as he teaches on Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation. We are also thankful for the generosity of Mark’s church to host our conference and are excited for you to experience College Park Church’s hospitality. We hope you will join us April 14-16 in Indianapolis! Learn more and register now!

 

Resist the Smorgasbord!

Resist the Smorgasbord: Strategies for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

I once read a book in which the Christian author likened the method often used in the church for discipleship to a smorgasbord—various classes and small groups are offered for people to pick and choose from, mainly based on personal preferences, perceived needs, and “hot topics” of the day. His point was to urge the church to resist this tendency and strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy. Such a strategy takes into account and incorporates the whole counsel of God and builds in stages—precept-by-precept.

I wonder if we sometimes have a similar “smorgasbord tendency” when it comes to planning for and choosing curriculum for our various children’s and youth ministry classes: What seems good this year? What will the children like? What will peak their (or the teacher’s) interest?…I think we can, and must strive for a more vision-driven, biblical, structured, long-term discipleship strategy—one that seeks to incorporate the whole counsel of God from nursery to high school.

What does this actually look like? To begin with, we believe that there are six basic elements or disciplines that should be included in this long-term strategy:

Elements of Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

  1. A story-based chronological overview of the Bible, which introduces children to the main character of the Bible—God—and acquaints them with key people, places, and events.
  2. A biblical theology that focuses on the main storyline of the Bible, where God progressively reveals His redemptive purposes, which come to their complete fulfillment in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.
  3. Systematic theology that teaches foundational doctrines, which summarize the Bible’s teaching on various subjects.
  4. Moral instruction—the commands of Scripture, which communicate ethical instruction, guiding us in the righteous ways of God.
  5. An explicit presentation of the essential truths of the Gospel, leading to a clear understanding of saving faith.
  6. Bible study methods to provide the necessary tools for rightly reading and interpreting Scripture.

A strategic, long-term plan makes curriculum choices at the various grade levels with these basic elements or disciplines in mind. It asks questions such as: Over the span of nursery to high school, are our students receiving the whole counsel of God? Are we introducing these elements at age-appropriate levels? Does our overall strategy reflect a proper biblical balance?

2016 National ConferenceIf you long to explore this topic further and want practical help in structuring a plan for the children’s and youth ministries of your church, I would love to have you come to my seminar at our National Conference in April…

Making a Strategic Plan for Teaching the Whole Counsel of God

This seminar will present an overview for planning and implementing a scope and sequence in your children’s and youth ministry that serves to thoroughly acquaint your students with the whole counsel of God. Starting in the nursery years and moving through high school, we will explore options and strategic goals for various age groups.

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