Comment on this blog post with a short testimony of how you have seen God’s good design through disability in your church. Or, suggest a meaningful way in which churches can better minister to families with special needs. We will select 3 entries to receive Krista Horning’s inspiring book, Just the Way I am: God’s Good Design in Disability. (more…)
As the question above from a 3rd grader demonstrates, teaching children can really keep you on your “theological toes.” Children can come up with the most basic yet profound questions—questions that theologians have thought about and wrestled with for years. As teachers we need to be prepared to thoughtfully and truthfully answer our student’s questions with age-appropriate language and concepts. That is no easy task, especially when the question isn’t specifically addressed in Scripture. So how did some of our readers answer the contest question? Here are some excerpts showing the scope of the answers: (more…)
Children Desiring God has developed a resource to assist parents in presenting the essential truths of the Gospel to children. Leave us a comment of any length on today’s post, and your name will be entered for a drawing in which five names will be chosen to receive the booklet, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel.
- Topic: Comment to share your thoughts on today’s video
- Deadline: Wednesday April 3rd, at 11:59pm
- Prize: One of five booklets from Children Desiring God entitled, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel
- Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 9th.
In this short video segment taken from his sermon, “The Centrality of the Cross,” Jason Meyer, Pastor for Vision and Preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church, simply but powerfully tells and explains the story of Jesus’ death on the cross. And, to further our understanding, he gives a real-life illustration that will help both young and old alike.
A question from a third grader after reviewing the biblical story of Adam and Eve’s sin in eating of the one tree…
“Mrs. Nelson, why did God put the tree in the garden in the first place?”
Thinking to myself: That’s a really good question! When did third graders get so smart? I wish I had Dr. Wayne Grudem on speed-dial. How can I stall while I try to think this through?
These days there is a lot of emphasis on teaching children through narrative and story. And while it is true that many parts of the Bible are written in narrative form (as in the case of Genesis 3), and good story-telling can be an effective means of teaching children, the fact remains that we also need to ground our children in sound doctrine. What is doctrine? Well, you could say that it is basically looking at what the whole Bible teaches about different topics—God, creation, man, Jesus, redemption, the church, etc.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. (Titus 2:1 ESV)
Take for example, that question from the third grader. The narrative in Genesis 3 makes for great story-telling. But the “story” itself does not answer the third grader’s question, does it? Nor does the story answer the question of why God was so angry because of “one seemingly little act of disobedience.” However, as you look through the whole Bible, you will see that much is revealed about the character of God—who He is and what He is like. And these truths are “collected,” as it were, in order to form the doctrine of God. For example, God is holy and righteous and is committed to His glory. God is also omniscient, wise, sovereign, almighty, merciful, loving, and good. This type of doctrinal framework can now help answer that third grader’s question, because the whole Bible has revealed to us important things about God’s character and purposes.
Therefore, teaching doctrine is vitally important because it informs us of core biblical truths of the Christian faith. It guards us from error, serves as a standard by which to test all things, and is extremely practical and applicable to daily living.
Do you have an intentional plan for presenting doctrine to the children of your church? Have you thought about these questions?
- What essential truths of the Christian faith do our children need to know?
- How should these doctrines be explained accurately at various ages?
- Do the tools we now use provide our children with solid doctrine that is increasingly comprehensive in scope and depth as the children mature?
- If we are using story-based materials, are we being careful to evaluate their doctrinal integrity?
If you haven’t done so already, it may be time to review and evaluate your teaching materials to see if your children are receiving a solid doctrinal foundation. Because, whether we know it or not, we are always teaching doctrine to children. They will create categories in their minds by what we teach them. So let’s keep it sound!
What does a solid doctrinal foundation look like? Here are two great resources for adults:
- Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell
- Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by Dr. R.C. Sproul
So how would you answer that third grader’s question, “Why did God put the tree in the garden in the first place?” Email us your answers. We will highlight our two favorite responses in a future post, and the winners will each receive a copy of Dr. Bruce A. Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God.
- Topic: Share your answer to the question: “Why did God put the tree in the garden in the first place?”
- Submit your answer to us via email at email@example.com
- Deadline: Wednesday March 27th, at 11:59pm
- Prize: One of two Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Dr. Bruce A. Ware
- We will randomly select two people who submit testimonies.
- You may submit multiple answers, but only one counts as an entry.
- We will notify you by email when you’ve won to receive your shipping information.
- Winners will be announced on Tuesday, April 2nd.
Come and hear Dr. Bruce Ware, Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at our National Conference. He will be one of our plenary speakers and will also be leading a seminar titled, “Teaching Children to Know and Love God by Knowing and Loving Theology.” For more information click here.
I began teaching Sunday school more than 25 years ago. I currently teach first grade. What’s the biggest difference I see in my classroom today compared to 25 years ago? Bibles. Bibles everywhere. A Bible in the hands of every child. Bibles being opened, and eager faces and busy fingers trying to find Isaiah 44. And when they find it (and many still need extra help), you would think that they had just won a great prize. In reality, they have found a treasure greater than anything they could imagine: God’s own Word!
It wasn’t that Bibles were in short supply 25 years ago, or that first graders couldn’t read back then. No, it was something more significant—an unspoken philosophy embracing the idea that: The Bible is too difficult for young children and too boring for older children. The Bible itself—the actual text—isn’t really all that necessary or clear or sufficient for contemporary culture. So Sunday school curriculum adapted itself to this new way of thinking and, for the most part, the Bible disappeared from our Sunday school lesson times and was replaced by a sheet of paper that gave teachers an “easy to prepare” scripted, summarized Bible story.
But somewhere along the way, many of us started to notice something. There was no longer authoritative power in our teaching. Many children were entertained, but not many seemed changed. And the weekly “easy to prepare” lesson became a chore for the teachers who longed for something deeper and more soul-satisfying.
At CDG, we have a vision for the next generation—a vision of sponges, soaked full, super-saturated. Not, real sponges of course, but children. Children soaked full and super-saturated with the Word of God. Children who see the Bible being read and hear the text explained. Children who learn how to read the Bible for themselves and know how to properly study it, and then interpret its meaning. We long for a generation of Bible-saturated children who come to embrace God’s Word as sweeter than honey, more precious than gold, more exciting than any game or activity, more powerful than anything in their lives, more long-lasting and life-transforming than any new electronic gadget, and more soul-satisfying than the closest friend.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15 ESV)
Getting practical: So what steps can we take to make the Bible more “visible” in our classrooms? Here are a few suggestions to start:
- Always teach with an open Bible ,even if you are summarizing a story for preschoolers.
- Whenever possible read directly from the Bible. Even preschoolers should hear the actual text read at times. Where the Bible uses simple, straightforward language, read it.
- In kindergarten, start to teach children the books of the Bible through song.
- Beginning in first grade, encourage each child to bring his or her own Bible to class. Make sure it is a “real” Bible and not a storybook or paraphrased version. We highly recommend the ESV Children’s Bible.
Communicate with parents and, if necessary, assist them in purchasing a Bible for their child.
- Offer small incentives (candy, prizes) for children who remember to bring their Bibles to class.
- Require children of reading age to look up selected texts and read them aloud during the lesson. Do this according to their age and skill level. Most first graders can, with some help, look up and read one short and simple text per lesson. By third grade, most children can handle multiple texts of varying lengths.
Want some additional tips for specific age levels? Print out this free handout from Children Desiring God: The Importance of Biblical Literacy for the Next Generation.
You can also watch this delightful illustration as Pastor David Michael envisions of the effects of a Bible-saturated generation:
Every Friday we are going to have a Friday contest that allows you, our readers, to share from your lives in an effort to encourage others and maybe win some cool prizes. Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are the details for this week’s contest:
- Topic: Share a testimony from your church, classroom, or home that will encourage others to make the Bible “front and center” in their teaching.
- Deadline: Thursday, March 21st at 11:59pm CST
- Prize: One of three ESV Children’s Bibles
- We will randomly select three people who submit testimonies.
- You may submit multiple testimonies, but only one counts as an entry.
- We will notify you by email when you’ve won to receive your shipping information.
- Winners will be announced on Monday, March 25th.
Have a great weekend!