In her seminar titled, “Teaching Children the Fear of the Lord,” Sally Michael reminds us of the importance of teaching from a heart that loves and embraces the truths being taught.
Like so many spiritual things, the fear of the Lord is better “caught” than “taught.” Children very often pick up our attitudes—those we respect, they tend to respect. Our attitude toward God is also sensed by them—not so much by our words, but by our actions, and our heart affections; it is very easy for them to sense what we feel, to honor what we honor, and to disregard what we disregard.
So the first step we must take in helping our children to fear the Lord is to examine our own hearts. Here are a few questions we can ask ourselves:
• Am I humble and contrite before the Lord, respecting His authority over me, and recognizing His infinite greatness?
• How seriously do I take the word of God? Do I tremble at God’s Word? Do I diligently apply it to my life, obey its commands conscientiously, take its warnings seriously, and heed its teaching? Do I take in the whole scope of Scripture, even the hard truths and stories? (more…)
Here is a pertinent observation and question left by one of our blog readers recently:
I have been told that this generation of children will no longer use an actual Bible, but rather a tablet or phone, and that being able to use a Bible is not as important as it was ten years ago. The same goes with concordances and other Bible helps. Do you agree? What practically do you think is the best way to teach children?
Great question! And yes, I do have some thoughts about this. But before I give my opinion, it’s first helpful to reflect upon the nature of the Bible itself. For example:
- The Bible is “God-breathed” and divinely inspired.
- The Bible is inerrant and completely trustworthy.
- The Bible is the full canon of Scripture—all 66 books—given to us in written form.
- The Bible is characterized by its absolute authority, clarity, sufficiency, and necessity.
- The Bible is God’s one Word to us, communicating one main, unified, overarching message, through its diverse 66 books.
With these truths in mind, it is readily apparent that the Bible is utterly unique and separate from any other story or book. That is why I still love the designation “The Holy Bible.” That said, I fully believe the Bible’s words are authoritative and true whether we read them to our class from a Smartphone device, iPad®, or in “old-fashioned” printed form. God’s Word is God’s Word. The medium we use does not change or alter that. However, there is something we should not lose sight of: The medium we use cannot be completely disassociated from the message. What do I mean? Here is an example: (more…)
In his sermon, One Generation Shall Praise Your Works to Another, John Piper challenges us to not only pass on biblical truth, but to also do it in a manner that testifies to the greatness and worth of God.
It is the Biblical duty of every generation of Christians to see to it that the next generation hears about the mighty acts of God. God does not drop a new Bible from heaven on every generation. He intends that the older generation will teach the newer generation to read and think and trust and obey and rejoice. It’s true that God draws near personally to every new generation of believers, but he does so through the Biblical truth that they learn from the preceding generations. The Spirit comes down vertically (you might say) where the truth of God is imparted horizontally.
Years ago my son stepped through the doors of an Army recruitment office. He was given a wonderful and glorious picture of army life—one filled with financial benefits and exciting adventures. You’d be crazy NOT to join up. But, unbeknownst to the recruiter, our son had been given a prior “recruitment” talk by a good friend and mentor who had been in the army for 20 years (including two, year-long deployments into war zones). He gave our son a much more realistic and truthful picture. It was with this latter understanding that our son signed up. He counted the cost and joined because he was committed to a cause he believed in, knowing that hard work, self-sacrifice, suffering, and war was ahead.
I wonder sometimes if we are prone to a subtle type of recruitment mentality when we present the Gospel to children. Please don’t get me wrong—the Gospel IS the most glorious news of all, and we should be gladly sharing with our children and students the truth of the incomparable benefits and all-satisfying joy of trusting in Jesus and following Him. Jesus alone is “the way and the true and the life.” But, do we also help them understand that there is a cost in following Jesus? (more…)
What are your summer plans? Perhaps you will visit relatives, take a vacation, or soak up the sun at a neighborhood pool or lake? These are all great opportunities, but summer also affords us a unique opportunity to spread the Gospel through backyard Bible clubs.
Every member of your family can take part in the wonderful ministry of a backyard Bible club—whether it be extending invitations, teaching a lesson, leading singing, supervising a craft or game, or just loving the children who come. (more…)
One of the God-given means for influencing the heart and the will is to encourage students to be active participants in the learning process. Most people would agree that it is good for children to be involved in the learning process. Most of us could even give reasons why this is so:
- Makes the lessons more interesting, and therefore helps children to pay attention (easy for their minds to wander if you are doing all the talking)—Students do not get bored if they are actively participating in the learning process.
- Children will often remember the concepts longer if they have been involved in the learning process.
- When children are involved in the discovery of knowledge themselves, sometimes they can internalize truth better—discovering a Bible truth sometimes causes that truth to be embraced in the heart rather than just understood in the head
Here is a two-question quiz for your children and students:
1. Are you a disciple of Jesus?
2. What does it mean to be His disciple?
Why ask these two questions? Consider these words…
“Go make disciples.” With these words, Jesus commissions all his followers to make other followers, called disciples. Disciple means learner, a person who wanted to learn from and take on the pattern of his rabbi. Interestingly, the word Christian only occurs three times in the New Testament, while the word disciple occurs 269 times. Unfortunately, today the word Christian has the connotation of a status our children hold, a card they carry, disconnected from their daily activities. Disciple, on the other hand, implies a lifelong commitment to seek after, learn from, and stay close to our rabbi, Jesus. (more…)
In my previous post, Encouraging Biblical Literacy in Children: Ages 6-8, I mentioned two main ways in which we can encourage and help children grow in their proficiency in reading and understanding the Bible:
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.
Now, I would like to aim our thinking toward ages 9-11. At this age, students should be encouraged and expected to interact with more and more text, including reading passages aloud. During classroom time, their Bibles should be open more often than not, and most should be able to quickly look up two or more passages of Scripture during a lesson and be able to examine larger portions of text.
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: