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Feeding All the Little Lambs

Leading All the Little Lambs

At Children Desiring God we strongly believe that God has ordained parents as the primary teachers and disciplers of their children. It is a sacred responsibility and privilege. All the many wonderful Sunday school classes and other children’s and youth programs in your church are no substitute for your calling to nurture the faith of your children. Consider these words from Charles Spurgeon:

Let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that the Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties. The first and most natural condition of things is for Christian parents to train up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Let holy grandmothers and gracious mothers, with their husbands see to it that their own boys and girls are well taught in the book of the Lord.

But…

  • what about the children who come to your church who do not have believing parents?
  • what about children who are receiving a minimal amount of spiritual nourishment in their homes due to a variety of factors?
  • what about children who live in a one-parent home—and that parent is doing the best he or she can but is overwhelmed with simply holding things together?

Even in Spurgeon’s day these were realities, and he does not neglect to address this with great tenderness and earnestness.

Where there are no such Christian parents, it is well and wisely done for godly people to intervene. It is a Christly work when others undertake the duty which the natural doers of it have left undone. The Lord Jesus looks with pleasure upon those who feed His lambs, and nurse His babes, for it is not His will that any of these little ones should perish. Timothy had the great privilege of being taught by those whose natural duty it is, but where that great privilege cannot be enjoyed, let us all, as God shall help us, try to make up to the children the terrible loss which they endure. Come forward, earnest men and women, and sanctify yourselves for this joyful service.

(from a sermon titled, “The Sunday School and the Scriptures, No.1866,”
found at www.spurgeongems.org)

 Getting Practical

Check out our one-page guide, “Ministering to Children from Non-Christian Homes for some practical steps that can be implemented in the classroom setting.

Leading All the Little Lambs

Special Offers on Recommended Books

We are excited to offer a selection of some of our favorite books at reduced prices. If you are teaching Abiding in JesusTeach Me Your Way or Fight the Good Fight, this is a perfect time to stock up on these recommended resources for your students and leaders.

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

The Pursuit of GodRecommended for junior and senior high students and teachers. Used with Teach Me Your Way.
Special Price: $5.99

Sometimes the voices that speak most clearly in the present are those that echo from the past. So it is in this Christian classic by the late pastor and evangelist A. W. Tozer.

Tozer brings the mystics to bear on modern spirituality, grieving the hustle and bustle and calling for a slow, steady gaze upon God. With prophetic vigor and flowing prose, he urges us to replace low thoughts of God with lofty ones, to quiet our lives so we can know God’s presence. He reminds us that life apart from God is really no life at all.

Tozer writes from his knees, a posture fit for presenting the character of God in all its demanding grandeur. “Arise, O sleeper!” is his word to us, and yet if we heed the call, we will see that to arise is not to stand, but to kneel before the God of heaven in humble contemplation. To pursue God is to know Him, and in our knowing be drawn in.

The Pursuit of God is a Christian classic about reclaiming God’s presence in a clamoring world. Bringing the mystics to bear on modern spirituality, A.W. Tozer raises high our thoughts of God, makes low our love for the world, and draws our gaze to the heights of heaven.

 

Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard

Hinds Feet on High PlacesRecommended for 5th – 12th grade female students. Used with Teach Me Your Way.
Special Price: $6.99

Hinds Feet on High Places is a timeless allegory dramatizing the yearning of God’s children to be led to new heights of love, joy, and victory. In this moving tale, follow Much-Afraid on her spiritual journey as she overcomes many dangers and mounts at last to the High Places. There she gains a new name and is transformed by her union with the loving Shepherd.

 

Kingdom’s Dawn by Chuck Black

Kingdom's DawnRecommended for 5th – 12th grade male students. Used with Teach Me Your Way.
Special Price: $8.99

A riveting medieval parallel to the Biblical good and evil clash.

Sixteen-year-old Leinad thought he was a common farmer’s son, nothing more. He wondered why his father had trained him for years to master the sword—not exactly a tool of the trade for farmers—but one tragic event initiates a world of revelation.

Only then does he begin to understand his calling—a calling no other man in the entire kingdom of Arrethtrae can fulfill—a calling given him by the King himself.

Teamed with a young slave girl, Leinad is thrust into adversity and danger—for the Dark Knight and his vicious Shadow Warriors will stop at nothing to thwart the King’s plan to restore the kingdom. Leinad will need more than a sharp blade and a swift hand to fulfill his mission and survive the evil plots of the King’s sworn enemies!

Journey to Arrethtrae, where the King and His Son implement a bold plan to save their kingdom; where courage, faith, and loyalty stand tall in the face of opposition; where good will not bow to evil—and the future of a kingdom lies in the hands of a young man.

 

Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands by Paul David Tripp

Instruments in the Redeemer's HandsRecommended for teachers, small group leaders and parents. Used with Abiding in Jesus.
Special Price: $10.99

The church today has many more consumers than committed participants. Church is merely an event we attend or an organization we belong to. We don’t understand that God has called His children into daily ministry.

We would be relieved if God placed our sanctification in the hands of trained and paid professionals. We would be happy to let pastors and elders and counselors do all the work. But that’s simply not the biblical model.

As Paul David Tripp explains, God’s plan can be summed up in a sentence: people in need of change helping people in need of change. He calls all His children to participate in ministry all the time.

Through faithful ministry of every part, the Body will grow to full maturity in Christ. Don’t just sit on the sideline. Make ministry your life and life your ministry. Become an effective tool of change in the lives of others.

 

The War for Mansoul by John Bunyan, as told by Ethel Barrett

The War for MansoulRecommended for students in 4th grade or older and teachers. Used with Fight the Good Fight.
Special Price: $8.99

Long ago, a mighty king named Shaddai built for himself a country called Universe with enough planets and galaxies to boggle the mind. Shaddai populated it with many thousands of angels, placing over them one wiser and more beautiful than the rest. This angel was Lucifer.

The perfect arrangement had one problem. Lucifer wanted to be as powerful as Shaddai, and he persuaded many angels to rebel.

Shaddai brought judgment upon Lucifer and his followers, casting them out of heaven. Lucifer was renamed Diabolus.

The story might had ended there except Shaddai had built himself a town on earth called Mansoul. Mansoul was Shaddai’s delight. What sweeter revenge than to take Mansoul for myself? Diabolus thought.

Besides being a fascinating reading adventure, this John Bunyan classic is a stirring allegory of man’s fall and redemption. The War for Mansoul describes our spiritual struggles, failures, and victories. It helps us understand better the enemy we face. And it moves us to praise and worship our great King and Savior.

 

All books available at the special prices while supplies last.

 

 

Sharing the Gospel with Your Children

Sharing the Gospel with Your Children

When my husband and I were young Christian parents, we instinctively knew the importance and responsibility of sharing the Gospel with our children. But, as good as our intentions were, and as heart-felt as our longings and prayers were for them to come to saving faith, I think we sometimes sent a confusing message to their young ears. In part, this was because we ourselves were somewhat immature in our understanding of the essential truths of the Gospel. Having come to saving faith in the popular “born again” era of the 1970s, we were steeped in an easy-believe-ism that did not rightly reflect the rich beauty  and grandeur of God’s grace, or the transforming power of Christ’s work in the life of a believer. Over time, and by God’s gracious provision of solid biblical teaching, our own understanding grew, and our children received the benefits of being instructed in this glorious Gospel.

These thoughts came to mind this week as I read Jason Allen’s short article, “10 Tips for Leading Kids to Christ.” In it he briefly expounds on these basic points:

sharinggospelquote1. Remember, children do not have to become like adults to be saved; adults have to become like children.
2. Remember, you are responsible for your child’s spiritual formation, not your church, your pastor, or your children’s minister.
3. Remember what conversion is.
4. Share your testimony with your children.
5. Share the gospel with your children.
6. Share the gospel in front of your children.
7. Provide natural contexts for spiritual conversations.
8. Encourage steps toward Jesus.
9. Talk to your pastor.
10. Be quick with the gospel, but slow with the baptistery.

It was points 5 and 6 that really got my attention. Because, just like my husband and I years ago assumed we knew the Gospel, there is an assumption that every Christian parent not only knows the essential truths of the Gospel, but can also articulate these truths in a child-friendly manner. Oh how I wish we would have had more help in this regard back when our children were young!

CHGOEPThat is why Children Desiring God developed Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. This short booklet  aims to equip parents for this precious privilege and responsibility. Not only does this booklet give some basics to consider before sharing the Gospel, but it also includes a devotional guide written in child-appropriate language that presents and explains 10 essential Gospel truths.

 

Our Children and the Reformation

Our Children and the Reformation

A few weeks ago, I spent a significant amount time writing a lesson for children on the topic of “justification.” It was a struggle that required much Bible study, prayer, help from commentaries, and reading some heavyweight theologians. And then the struggle begins: make it readily understandable and engaging for children.

All of this came to mind this week when I read Jeff Robinson’s article, “5 Reasons to Teach Your Kids About the Reformation.” It’s a great and encouraging read for parents and teachers. Here are his five reasons:

1. I want them to know about God’s faithfulness to his church.
2. I want them to know reformation must continue.
3. I want them to know defending the Bible is dangerous, but worth the risk.
4. I want them to know God does extraordinary things through ordinary people.
5. I want them to know the gospel is everything.

His comments on this last point were especially encouraging to me:

The Reformation boils down to a recovery of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. We are justified by faith in the substitutionary death of Christ. That’s the gospel. Remove it and you derail the engine that propels the train of eternal salvation. Remove it and you leave the body of Christ without a beating heart. Remove it and the Christian faith evaporates like a summer mist. The gospel was the battleground of the Reformation. No wonder the seed of the serpent attacks it in every generation.

Our Children and the ReformationI want my children to know that without the gospel, they cannot make sense of life in a fallen world. Without the gospel, there’s no hope in this life or the next, no real purpose to our days and seasons. Calvin said justification is the hinge on which the door of salvation swings. I want them to keep a close watch on that door.

I highly recommend reading the entire article. The importance of the Reformation is not just for Christian academics and historians. The next generation of Christians—our children—need to keep its truths and convictions alive in each generation.

 

What Do You Want Your Child to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

What Do You Want Your Children to Look Like 50 Years from Now?

In the midst of a world in turmoil, it is the responsibility of parents and the church to partner together to train children to be strong in faith and mighty in Spirit. In his seminar, Teaching Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture, Pastor Ron Rudd explains three areas children need to be trained in so they are prepared to stand firm through the years.

 

 

How do we want our children to look in 10, 20, 40 or 50 years from now? We pray that their hearts will love God. That they exhibit godly character. That they obey God’s Word. That they put their hope in God. We pray that our children’s future will be spent living for a higher goal—God’s glory.

 

Committed to Our Calling as Parents

 

Training Children to Stand Firm in a Hostile Culture

We encourage you to listen to the full seminar to learn more about the problems we face in our culture; the responsibilities of parents and the church; our part and God’s part of the plan to teach our children; and our ultimate end goal.

Watch the Seminar

Download the Notes

 

 

 

Team Leaders, How’s Your Team?

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Team Leaders, you have a special role in serving alongside and leading a team of children’s ministry volunteers in your classroom. Here are five practical ways you can connect with your teachers, small group leaders, worship leaders and helpers in order to develop stronger relationships and support them through the school year. Try one or more ideas to show them Christ, encourage them in their role in your class and to challenge them to let Christ be seen in them.

1. Weekly Pre-Class Prayer and Preparation

Encourage your team to arrive 10-15 minutes before you start welcoming children into the classroom. This gives you time to talk with your team about what will be happening during class, give any last minute instructions for the morning and most importantly, pray for the children in your class to have minds to hear and hearts to respond to the truths they will be taught that day. It is also a great time for your team to share personal prayer requests and pray for any families in the class who have requested prayer. Arriving early also gives teachers times to finish setting up visuals and review their lesson material one last time, and for small group leaders to set up their tables and be ready to welcome the students.

2. One-on-One Touch Points

Aim to chat with one or two of your team members one-on-one each week for just a couple minutes. Check in on how their morning went, encourage them on something they did well, give them advice on what they could improve on and ask if there is anything else you can do to support them in their role.

3. Occasional Post-Class Debrief

Gather your team together after class for 15-20 minutes to discuss how things in class are going. This is especially helpful to do for small group leaders several times in the first couple months of class, and then occasionally through the rest of the year. This is a good time to discuss as a team what is going well in your class and what struggles your team is facing. It is neat to see team members help one another with ideas as well as see ways they can support each other with prayer.

4. Evening of Encouragement

If your team is feeling weary midway through the year, it can be refreshing to invite your team an evening of encouragement—bless them with a devotional, worship together, share evidences of God’s grace you have seen in the classroom and pray for strength to continue serving your children well. This can also be incorporated with the next idea.

5. Sunday School Social

Enjoy getting to know your team and their families! Children’s ministry is a great way to get to know others in your church and develop a community with the people you serve alongside. Help your team bond with each other and strengthen teamwork by planning several social gatherings during the year. Some ideas include a family picnic or fall bonfire, going out for coffee or dessert, hosting a couples dinner or a dessert evening in your home, having a potluck or ordering in pizza after class.

Bonus Idea: Feed Your Team

An easy way to show love to your team is to treat them to every once in a while just for fun. Celebrate a perfect fall day with some apple muffins, encourage conversation during a post-class debrief with cookies or help your team prepare for an especially busy morning with strong coffee and chocolate.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all at once. Whichever approach you take to connect with your them, be sure your team knows that they are loved, prayed for and appreciated as you work together to help the next generation know and cherish their Savior!

Team Leaders, How's Your Team

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine.

Romeo and Juliet. Gospel and Doctrine...and the importance of catechism

Simplifying the Gospel is like simplifying the story of Romeo and Juliet. If you simply tell the story as “Two mixed-up teenagers fall in love and end up dead,” you loose the depth of the story. The background of the feuding families, the secret marriage, Romeo’s banishment and the sleeping potion Juliet took gives the story meaning and heart.

If we fail to teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generation, we remove the depth and meaning from their faith. If all they have is simplistic Bible truths—just love Jesus and believe in the cross—how will our children’s faith stand strong when they are confronted with the skepticism of our culture?

In our zeal to preach the gospel, we can often overlook or ignore the doctrinal foundations that lead to an understanding of the preciousness of the cross. In our zeal to evangelize, we must not forget that the main purpose of the organized church is to make disciples who will evangelize the nations.

One of the best ways to teach children solid doctrine is through catechesis. This is an intense, intentional, systematic, doctrinal teaching which imparts our beliefs about God, our communion with God and our obedience with God. Catechetical instruction normally employs the Socratic method of teaching through questions and answers. By utilizing the art of asking questions to stimulate critical thinking, the resulting discussion can encourage reasoning, the discovery of logical relationships, the illumination of further understanding and ultimately, the embracing of the truths discovered.

There are a variety of catechisms which present a series of questions and answers pertaining to Christian faith. Almost all of them are based on the creed and confessions of the church and they communicate these truths—what the church believes to be true about God, the Bible, the message of the Bible and its major themes about man, Christ and salvation.

Catechetical teaching is not boring, rote memorization. It is designed to not only teach the mind, but to effect our heart, affections and actions. Studying a catechism with your child will encourage you both in critical thinking, discussion and investigation of the Bible. If taught properly, it will not leave your children with parroted answers to random questions, but an understanding, learning and embracing of the truth of the Gospel and the doctrines of the Bible.

To learn more about catechism and how to teach it, watch to Sally Michael’s complete seminar:

Catechism: Out of Date or a Tried and True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths

Watch Seminar

Download Seminar Handouts

Sally Michael Quote on Catechism

The Best Education…

Charles Spurgeon Quote

 

 

 

 

Round-Up: Encouragement for Teachers and Parents of Youth

Youth Ministry

Here is a collection of our favorite articles written in the past few years to encourage youth pastors, mentors and parents. Check out the links below for advice on partnering with parents, developing a vision for your ministry, fighting the fight of faith and planting roots of faith that will last beyond the teen years.

Youth Ministry as a Bridge

What Will Win Your Youth?

Centering Youth on the Word

A Genuine Parent and Youth Ministry Partnership

The Importance of Parents in Youth Ministry

Youth Ministry: Set Apart or A Part

Already Relevant

Abusing “Jesus Loves Me”?

We Need the Wisdom of the Past

Preparing Teens for the Great Battle

 

 

VIDEO: “Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform” by Albert Mohler

Persevering in the Whole Counsel of God

We are excited to be sharing the content from our 2016 National Conference. Check back each Wednesday to view a new plenary session (along with discussion questions and action steps) to help you better understand how to persevere in teaching the whole counsel of God to the next generation. 

Holding Fast to the Whole Counsel of God Under Pressure to Conform

In this message, Dr. Albert Mohler connects our need as parents to “hold fast to the whole counsel of God under pressure to conform,” to the experience of the Israelites as they were about to enter the Promised Land. 

In Deuteronomy, Moses gave his last address to God’s chosen people. He addressed a generation that had not lived under the cruelties of Egypt, nor experienced their culture. Now on the brink of the Promise land, Moses knew what was at stake for them and their children. Would they default to and become like the dominate Canaanite culture, or would they hold fast, choose to follow God, and experience the blessings and favor He gives to His children? Dr. Mohler, teaching from Deuteronomy 6, uses three words to encourage and challenge Christian parents and children’s ministry workers on the importance of 1) teaching the whole doctrine of God, and instructing with 2) discipline and 3) diligence to battle against the pressure that we and our children will face to conform to the culture of the day.

Questions for Reflection

  1. How would you compare the culture of the Canaanites to the culture of our day?
  2. Why did Dr. Mohler emphasize the need for teaching specific doctrine?
  3. Discuss Dr. Mohler’s quote, “We have to make sure they [our children] find themselves in the storyline of Scripture, knowing themselves in that story, otherwise they are going to be in some other story.” As a follow-up to this question, in what ways could you help your children see themselves in the story of the Exodus?
  4. Dr. Mohler, after making the point that the cultural pressure to conform is not new, said, “Christian parents have had to be faithful in whatever culture we’ve lived in. It is so pervasive, they exaggerate the newness but underestimate the urgency.” Have you fallen prey to the newness, or have you underestimated the urgency to teach your children the whole counsel of God? If so, what practical steps could you take?
  5. Dr. Mohler, in reference the “whole” counsel of God said, “no one is upset with the Golden Rule…It’s the word whole that is a big problem.” What cultural norms or trends are increasingly in conflict with Scripture?

 

Albert Mohler Quote

 

Further Reading

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

39 Questions and the Whole Counsel of God

Gospel “Poles” and the Whole Counsel of God

 

View Other Plenary Sessions

“Declaring the Whole Counsel of God to the Next Generation” by Mark Vroegop

“Exploring the Fullness of the Whole Counsel of God” by Bruce Ware

 

 

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