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How to Use Fighter Verses for Instruction

How to Use Fighter Verses for Instruction

Fighter Verses are a wonderful means to share the Word of God with our children. Breakfast or supper, riding in the car, or any time the family is together is a good time for instructional conversation about the Fighter Verses. Below are a few tips to remember as you share God’s Word with your children.

Keep it Short

A short instructional time that catches and holds a child’s interest is better than a long drawn out time that leaves the child bored and frustrated.

Teach “Bite-Sized” Portions

To keep the instruction from becoming long and burdensome for the child, teach a word-, phrase-, or verse-at-a-time, as suits your child’s age and attention. The Bible is so rich that a single verse can present a number of different avenues for instruction. Rather than worry about being exhaustive in your instruction about a passage, pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit and teach the points God puts on your heart. Spend several days on a passage rather than try to cover it all at one sitting. (more…)

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Godward Recognition for Bible Memory

Incentives. Prizes. Class recognition. All are legitimate ways to encourage and reward students for Bible memory. In my first-grade class, we always took a few moments every week to encourage Bible memory and acknowledge children who had memorized verses in the past week. We also took time to celebrate special milestones, such as when a child had memorized 25 verses. That said, there are some careful considerations I think we should take into account with all of the above.  Depending on our manner and tone, we can either serve to encourage God-honoring thankfulness, or self-centered pride. As much as possible, I want to foster the former, and not the latter.

Here is an example of what I mean by this: Suppose you want to recognize a child in your class for memorizing 10 verses. Along with this recognition and maybe even rewarding him or her with a small prize, consider saying a prayer of thanksgiving and encouragement such as… (more…)

What Happened to Their “Faith”?

What Happened to Their "Faith"?

The older I get, the more I have seen this and wept. Sadly, too many of the students I once taught 15 and even 20 years ago have abandoned any pretense of the Christian faith. The great majority of these students grew up with godly Christian parents. What’s a parent to do? What’s the church to do? Last week Tim Challies had an important post, “Why Christian Kids Leave the Faith.”

Few things are sadder to witness than people who once professed faith leaving it all behind. This is especially true when those people were raised in Christian homes by God-fearing parents. These children were given every opportunity to put their faith in Jesus but determined instead to turn their backs on him. Why would they make such a tragic choice?

What Happened to Their "Faith"Several years ago Tom Bisset carried out a study of people who had left the faith. Wanting this to be more than a statistical analysis, he actually sat down with people to interview them and ask for detailed information on when, why, and how they abandoned their faith. As he compiled his research he arrived at the four most prominent reasons that people raised in Christian homes eventually leave Christianity behind.

• They leave because they have troubling, unanswered questions about the faith.
• They leave because their faith is not working for them.
• They leave because they have allowed other things to take priority.
• They leave because they never personally owned their faith.

…As parents we are to commit ourselves to the task of raising our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, to teach them the facts of the faith, to show how it answers our questions and meets our needs, to insist that the good news of the gospel must be personally apprehended. We do what God calls us to do, we do it to the best of our abilities, and we entrust the results—and our children—to God’s good providence.

whychristiankidsrebelA book I would recommend for parents is Tim Kimmel’s Why Christian Kids Rebel: Trading Heartache for Hope. Even if your children have not rebelled or shown any indication of rejecting the faith, this book has some very helpful biblical counsel for all parents to consider and implement in their parenting.

 

 

They Need More than a Cheerleader

They Need More Than a Cheerleader

Melissa Kruger wrote this article for her sisters in Christ, but it also hit home to me as a teacher, parent, and grandparent. The same tendency to reduce Jesus to the role of spiritual cheerleader in ministries and resources aimed at women can easily, and oh so subtly, begin to pervade our children’s Sunday school classrooms and our parenting.

Please, please read the entire article, “Sisters, Jesus Is Not Your Cheerleader” in order to properly understand what she is saying and what she is not saying. As you read this excerpt from the article, think about how her points readily apply to teaching children and parenting in general.

They Need More Than a CheerleaderAnd, to be clear, Jesus does encourage. He offers words of strength to the weary and comfort to the hurting. In a world where we so often feel we don’t measure up, we need his encouragement daily. By focusing on only part of his message, however, I’m concerned that we’ve reduced Jesus to a spiritual cheerleader. And, in turn, that’s what we’ve become to one another. We offer words of affirmation, but not rebuke; words of forgiveness, but not repentance. We rightly celebrate his grace, but often forget to mourn our sin.

In doing so, we miss out on life-giving realities in our relationship with Jesus and one another. It’s the friends willing to call me out in my sin and say hard things whom I trust the most. They’re the ones I return to time and again for advice and wisdom—precisely because they recognize that who I am isn’t all I need to be.

Jesus speaks to us in a variety of ways—he teaches, commands, rebukes, calls, and exhorts. When we reduce Jesus to our personal rah-rah section in the bleachers, we miss out on the faithful friend we so desperately need. If you’re mainly hearing “you’re great!” (cue Tony the Tiger) from your devotional or women’s ministry, I invite you back to God’s Word, where we hear the voice of Jesus in a diversity of ways.

(www.thegospelcoalition.org)

Questions to ask in regard to our children’s and youth ministries in particular:

  • Do the resources we use—curriculum and other books—present the variety of ways that God speaks to us in His Word in a balanced way? Do they continually point to the greatness of God, or do they tend to make much of us instead?
  • In teaching children, does my teaching style tend toward the “rah-rah, you’re great” in an unhealthy and unbiblical way? How can I take steps to have a more balanced and biblical approach? (It’s possible to also teach with the other extreme—too little exhorting or encouraging. This is also unhealthy and unbiblical.
  • For my own devotional life, do I carefully select materials that bring me to God’s Word in such a way that I see the whole counsel of God being communicated through a diversity of commands, rebukes, calls, and exhortations? How can doing so better help me as a parent and teacher?

 

The Holy Weight of Teaching Divine Truths

744px-constitution_of_the_united_states_page_1

The United States Constitution, ratified on June 21, 1788

Years ago my family visited the National Archives. There, in the main rotunda, housed under heavy glass and dim lights, you can view the United States Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights—documents that changed the course of history. We approached these documents with a sense of somber reflection, understanding something of the lofty ideals and great sacrifices behind the words. However, that somber reflection was rudely interrupted by a group of junior high students joking with their friends, running and goofing around, totally oblivious to the documents they had supposedly come to see. Apparently no one had taught them about an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things.

Weighty things…I have spent the past two months writing lessons for children. Consider some of the topics: God’s holiness and righteousness, sin and judgment, the Gospel, justification, sanctification, submission to Christ, living in a manner pleasing to the Lord…All are topics of utmost, eternal importance for our children—the difference between heaven and hell, their everlasting joy or everlasting misery. These are no trifling matters. These topics, all revealed in God’s Word, are the weightiest things in the universe.

This is a constant reminder for me: Teaching children involves a holy weight. It is holy because our teaching is meant to point to and reflect the holiness of God—the one true God who is utterly unique, one-of-kind, beyond compare, majestic, and perfect in every way. It is a weight because the things we teach are meant to land on the heart, mind, and will with an appropriate seriousness meant to encourage life-transforming impact that is honoring to a holy God. We are dealing with divine priceless truths! This is true whether we are teaching 2 year olds or 12 year olds.

This changes the way I prepare a lesson, the way I pray over a lesson, and the way I present a lesson.

Does that mean there is no room for creative fun in the classroom? Are engaging illustrations out-of-bounds? Do lessons need to be presented in a drab, somber tone, and never with joyful exuberance? No, I am not suggesting any of this. I believe our curriculum has attempted to strike an appropriate balance in this regard. We use numerous, age-appropriate, child-appealing, illustrations and visuals in our lessons, but all are designed to help and encourage our students to grow in their understanding of and reverence for the triune God and the amazing gift of salvation offered in Jesus Christ. These are divine, priceless truths indeed! Let’s strive to teach our students in such a way that they learn an appropriate decorum when in the presence of weighty things!

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

Charles Spurgeon shared these words for Sunday school teachers and parents:

The Holy Scriptures must be made the means of your salvation through faith. Know the Bible, read the Bible, search the Bible, and yet that alone will not save you. What did our Lord Himself say? “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and they are they which testify of Me; and you will not come unto Me that you might have life.” If you come not to Jesus, you will miss eternal life. Searching the Scriptures is able to make you wise unto salvation “through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” but not without that faith. Pray, you Sunday school teachers, that you may see this faith worked in the children whom you teach. What a blessed groundwork for faith your teaching of the Holy Scriptures will be, but never mistake it for the building itself, which is of faith alone.

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

Teach the Scriptures and pray for faith. This is a great call for parents and teachers. Teach, yes, but bathe that teaching in God-dependent prayer, pleading with our heavenly Father to bring about faith in Christ alone for our children and students.

Here are two encouraging and practical resources to consider:

Utter Dependency on God, Through PrayerUtter Dependency on God, Through Prayer

The first part of Utter Dependency on God, Through Prayer is primarily directed to adults for their growth in the faith. The second part provides practical guidance to those who lead children in prayer—primarily in the classroom, but also in the living room. Eleven strategies for integrating prayer into your interactions with children serve as a springboard for creative and visionary thought as you meditate upon Scripture, seeking God with all of your heart, through prayer.

Praying for the Next GenerationPraying for the Next Generation

What kind of legacy do you want to leave for your children? Sally Michael encourages you to consider the spiritual inheritance you can give to the next generation through your faithful prayers. In this booklet, she equips you with a method for using Scripture to pray for your child, grandchild, or the children in your church.

 

Teach the Bible and Pray for Faith

 

 

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

Here is an often-voiced dilemma from those who are using our Sunday morning elementary and youth curriculum:

This study has 40 lessons, but we have only 35 available weeks in our Sunday school year. What should we do?

Unfortunately, there is not “one-size-fits-all” answer to this question because every class situation is different. The most beneficial solution needs to take into account not only the intentional structure and flow of the curriculum, but also your individual class structure and student needs. However, we can offer some help. Here are some general things to look for and consider:

  1. Read the curriculum Introduction very carefully.
    Some of our curricula offer suggestions about which lessons can be omitted or readily combined without losing the overall flow of the curriculum. Or, absent of this, some general principles are outlined to guide you in making decisions that will best serve your students.
  2. On our website, click on and read through the expanded scope and sequence that is available for your particular curriculum. Doing so can help you to decide which lessons are more crucial for the study as a whole.
  3. Take into account which lessons emphasize concepts that your students may already be more familiar with, as compared to newer, less familiar concepts. “Weigh in” more heavily on lessons addressing these newer topics and consider combining or omitting lessons with the more familiar concepts.
  4. Consider doing a one-lesson “missed lessons round-up” by providing the students with the main ideas and a key verse for each missing lesson. Be creative as possible. This is the method I have used most often when I have had to omit five or more lessons in a year.
  5. Make sure to keep explicit Gospel lessons front and center—Don’t simply assume that the Gospel is one of those familiar concepts that can be omitted.
  6. Ask: Is there a way that you can encourage parents to cover these missing lessons in the home? The best and most appropriate way to do this is to send home the corresponding Growing in Faith Together (GIFT) page for any lessons missed. Also, making sure that each student has his or her own workbook will ensure that they all finish the year with the main ideas and Scripture for all 40 lessons in their possession.

Yes, we know that for many of you there are so many lessons and so little time! We hope these suggestions will help resolve that dilemma more readily. And, as always, our cheerful customer service team is available to help you with any further questions. You can call us at 877.400.1414 or email info@childrendesiringGod.org.

So Many Lessons, So Little Time

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.

 

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.

 

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