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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.

Here are three specific examples that demonstrate this discipleship orientation in our curricula:

  1. In the lessons, teachers are encouraged to give brief, appropriate personal examples of how a specific biblical truth convicted, corrected, guided, and counseled them in a real-life situation. Biblical instruction leads to heart transformation, which leads to following Jesus’ in word and deed.
  1. Lessons include an Application section that aims to encourage students to personally respond to the truth. Here is a sample of an Application point from The ABCs of God:

    Point out that most people in the world do not celebrate that Jesus is exalted far above anything and anyone else. Many of these people do not even know who Jesus is or what He has done. What should those of us who know and love Jesus do so that others will see how great and exalted Jesus is? For example, if you score the winning goal for your soccer team, is there a way that you could point to Jesus as being great and not yourself? What about people who have heard about Jesus but don’t like it that He is exalted above all? Is there a way that we can help them? [for example, pray for them and keep pointing them to Jesus] 

  1. Lessons include accompanying GIFT Pages (Growing In Faith Together) or Parent Resource Pages that are sent home, giving parents opportunities to help their children apply lesson truths. Here is a sample from The ABCs of God:

    Read Ephesians 6:1-3a and ask the following questions: What is God commanding you to do? What does He promise as a reward? But what about when you are told to do something that you think is unfair? What would it mean to trust Jesus in this situation? Explain that trusting Jesus means that we obey His commands even when something is hard or seems unfair, because we trust His word. Another example would be 1 Peter 5:6-7.

    Action Steps
    This week, with your parent’s help, make a list of 3 or 4 things that you are having a hard time trusting God with, as evidenced by disobedience to specific commands of God. Each night before going to bed, pray and ask the Holy Spirit to change your heart and give you the desire and strength to do things Jesus’ way instead of your own way.

 

 

What Do They SEE?

What Do They See?

Family devotions, Sunday school classes, catechism, Bible study, corporate worship services, mission projects—all important and helpful tools and means of instructing our children and students in the Christian faith. But there is a really crucial aspect we often don’t think about as much as we should. Consider the former list in light of these words:

Discipleship is the process whereby we seek to teach others the Word of God. Notice that the Great Commission is not only to teach people God’s commands, but to teach them to “observe” or “obey” all that He commanded. There is a world of difference between teaching someone everything the Lord commanded and teaching them to obey everything He commanded. One is through words, the other through a way of life. Teaching someone to obey God’s commands requires intentionality in the context of relationship throughout the span of a lifetime.  

…Our call to discipleship is a call to follow our Lord’s example before others. As we seek to live obediently by God’s grace, we teach others. Even our struggles demonstrate to those around us that truly it is by grace alone through faith alone that we are saved. 

What Do They See?Our sojourn in this fallen world is from cradle to grave. The lessons we learn at every stage are the very lessons we pass on to others (2 Tim. 2:2). Therefore, children need parents who seek to embody the gospel in their homes daily through loving relationships and family devotions. Teenagers need parents and older church members to share how they have experienced the great doctrines of the Bible. College students who have come from broken homes must learn from spiritually mature men and women how to be godly husbands and wives, fathers, and mothers. Young families look to every church member to fulfill their baptismal vow of assisting in the Christian nurture of their child by teaching Sunday school and working in the nursery. Discipleship is for all stages of life.

(Brad Waller, “Discipling Every Age,” www.ligonier.org)

So parents, what do our children SEE from us when we…

  • have conflict with our spouse?
  • are stuck in traffic?
  • experience illness?
  • have a difficult day at work or in the home?
  • receive an unexpected gift?
  • plan a special vacation?
  • are watching a sporting event?

Teachers, what do our students SEE from us when they…

  • observe us in the worship service?
  • hear us talking with and about others?
  • sit under our teaching—sensing our tone and attitude toward what we are teaching?

As we teach our children and students through family devotions, Sunday school classes, catechism, Bible study, corporate worship services, mission projects, etc. may we always keep in mind…

Our call to discipleship is a call to follow our Lord’s example before others. As we seek to live obediently by God’s grace, we teach others. Even our struggles demonstrate to those around us that truly it is by grace alone through faith alone that we are saved.

What’s Your Vision for Motherhood?

What's Your Vision for Motherhood?

Watch as Sally Michael uses the example of doing laundry to illustrate different perspectives of what it means to be a mother.

(more…)

The Faith of a Child

The Faith of a Child

As parents, our greatest goal and joy for our children should be that they come to faith in Christ and live as His faithful disciples, for the glory of God. Therefore, clearly presenting and explaining the essential truths of the Gospel and demonstrating what it means to follow Jesus in daily life is our greatest duty and privilege as we teach and train our children. But trying to discern whether or not a child has truly understood and grasped the meaning of the Gospel is sometimes harder to assess.

Here are two pastors who offer some wise counsel for parents and teachers:

Children can memorize and repeat what they have heard their parents and teachers say, but that doesn’t mean that they understand it all. Neither does it mean that they are personally committed to those truths.

A few questions can determine where a child is spiritually. (more…)

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.

(more…)

The Gospel Alphabet—Who We are in Relation to God

The Gospel Alphabet—Who We are in Relation to God

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

“I can do it all by myself” is a comment we hear increasingly from our 5-year-old grandson. Whether it is brushing his teeth, getting dressed, or buckling himself in his car seat, he is slowly but surely moving toward a healthy type of independence necessary for adulthood. As parents, we strive to progressively instill this in our children.

However, as good as this goal is for our children, we must at the same time help them grasp and pursue a greater level of dependency. “I can do it all by myself” can be dangerous and deadly! How so?

In the previous post in The Gospel Alphabet series, I spoke of the necessity of giving our children a robust doctrine of God. Understanding who God is and what He is like is crucial for children knowing who they are. For example, consider Genesis 1:1, which most of our children have easily committed to memory,

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (ESV) (more…)

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…)

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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