Living Out the Gospel at Home

Living Out the Gospel at Home

Parents, ponder this statement from Chap Bettis for a moment:

The first place we live out the gospel is in our homes.

A simple statement, yet amazingly profound and instructive—encouraging and convicting. For our children, how we live out the gospel at home will give them a lasting impression of what it means to be a sinner saved by grace and a disciple of Christ.

Bettis goes on to say:

If we’re honest, however, home is often the most challenging place to live out the gospel’s implications. We say things to our children that we would never say to anyone else. We express anger to our spouses that we hide from others. Laziness others don’t see is obvious to them. Family relationships, which God intended to be a blessing, can become a war zone. Continue Reading…

Thank You Mom, for Praying this Prayer Over My Life

Thank You Mom, for Praying this Prayer Over My Life

Motherhood is full of ups and downs. It’s the excitement of seeing your first ultrasound and the desperation of not knowing if you can make it through that last month of pregnancy. Motherhood is the joy of hearing your baby giggle for the first time and the sadness of having to wipe away your toddler’s big alligator tears…being two is very hard. It’s the fun of seeing your child constantly learning something new and the feeling you are saying “No, don’t do that!” a thousand times a day. Motherhood is the fun of baking the perfect construction site birthday cake to make your son smile and feeling buried under endless loads of laundry…sorry, I have no idea what those stains are. Continue Reading…

The Great Work of Setting a Foundation

The Great Work of Setting a Foundation

Often nursery workers are seen as “baby-sitters” whose main job is to merely provide a safe environment for little ones while their parents are involved in the “real and important” ministries of the church. May these words from John Piper be a reminder to the church:

Jesus took the child-belittling culture of his day which defined “greatness” to exclude “receiving children” and he turned it upside down. He said: “Receiving children in my name is the world’s least, and the world’s least is my great.” So wherever the Spirit of Christ pervades, the people who receive children will no longer be the “least.” They will be “great.”

Really? Why? Because to receive a child in Jesus’ name (i.e., out of love, in his strength, and for his glory) is to receive Jesus, and to receive Jesus is to receive God the Father. Which means that the nursery may be more full of God than any other room in the church.

Continue Reading…

“Let Them Come”—Help for Church and Parents

"Let Them Come"—Help for Church and Parents

The other night, my husband and I had dinner with our daughter and son-in-law. They made a special dinner and had the table set with the “fancy” tableware. But there was one hitch to this elegant dinner—4 children were included, too, our grandchildren, ages 1 to 5 years old. Let’s just say that the children put a distinctive twist on the ambiance of the meal. Even with all the challenges and distractions, we were glad they were there…It was a joyful mess! Their parents have employed a type of “system” for mealtime that helps both children and adults.

In previous posts, we have highlighted the amazing benefits for welcoming children into the corporate worship service. But let’s not gloss over some of the challenges. It’s a little like inviting a group of young children to a fine dining experience—some adjustments have to be made. This should be a loving, cooperative strategy involving both parents and church. Sometimes parents just need some practical help and resources. Sometimes that church needs to make a few adjustments and give the whole church community a vision for welcoming children. Below are some resources that we believe will be helpful: Continue Reading…

Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship

Inviting Children as a Means of Discipleship

It seemed like an eternity at the time—a frustrating eternity—to train our wiggly, always talking, 5-year-old son to sit quietly through a 90-minute worship service. But somehow we all lived through it, and slowly but surely he learned to not only sit and be quiet, but he also began to recall and ponder an amazing amount of the sermon teaching. In turn, this provided us with a springboard for further spiritual discussion and training in the home.

This leads to Pastor David Michael’s fourth benefit for welcoming children into the corporate worship service (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3):

  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

Bringing children into the worship service provides an opportunity for them to learn how to worship God and to discover the purpose for which they were created. Lord willing, not only will our children worship God here on earth, but will spend eternity doing so. Continue Reading…

Inviting Children to Experience Worship of God

Inviting Children to Experience Worship of God

A while back, I shared this…

Recently, I had the great joy and privilege of holding my 8-month-old grandson in my arms during a family gathering. His big eyes were busy observing everything around him…

  • Family, other well-known faces, and strangers were seated all around him.
  • People were bowing their heads, with eyes closed, being very quiet.
  • A man up front, with his eyes closed, was talking earnestly.
  • Grandma stood up with everyone else and started singing, and some people raised their hands.
  • The man up front opened a book and read from it while everyone else listened.
  • A basket was passed around, and people put something in it.

As you have probably guessed, the “family” I am referring to is the family of Christ, gathering to worship the Lord together. Little baby Nate was being exposed to the Sunday morning corporate worship service—a crucial element of family life for every believer. Even at 8 months old, he is seeing and hearing the normal rhythms of life in the body of Christ. What a privilege to expose him to this at such a young age! Continue Reading…

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Including Our Children in the Central Activity of the Church

Growing up, one the most important and regular features of our family life was dinnertime. Sitting down and eating together was a high priority. After the dinner prayer, and throughout the meal, conversation flowed as we shared the day’s experiences and a myriad of other topics. Along with the obvious nutritional necessity and benefits, it was a time of family love, laughter, encouragement, and more. I can’t imagine, as a child, being excluded from this central aspect of family life!

In an even more profound way, the corporate worship service is one of the most important and regular activities of the family of God. Here is how Pastor David Michael explains it:

  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.

Continue Reading…

A Summer of Worshiping Together—Let the Children Come!

A Summer of Worshiping Together

Summer will be quickly upon us. It’s a time for families to experience a change of pace—an opportunity to explore a variety of adventures and activities with our children. Many churches also take advantage of this time to provide families and children with new ministry experiences. But here is something I would like both church and family to consider this summer: How about prioritizing and encouraging families together in worship this summer. Yes, the whole family—parents sitting along with their children (let’s say 4 years old and up as a reasonable goal) during the weekly corporate worship service.

For many churches, this is already the norm… but maybe there are parents who need some extra encouragement and practical help. Or, maybe your church has not encouraged this and you want to think through and revaluate that decision. In the next several posts, I will be highlighting helpful information from Pastor David Michael’s seminar, “’Let The Children Come To Me’ in Worship,” in which he articulated four benefits of having children experience the corporate worship service:

  • A Summer of Worshiping TogetherThere is spiritual benefit for children who participate.
  • Attending the worship service involves children in the most central, most regular, most valuable, and most corporate activity of the church.
  • It provides children with an intergenerational experience, and thus the opportunity to be influenced, and to benefit from the example of others, especially their parents.
  • It facilitates the discipleship of our children.

Continue Reading…

Praying for Backyard Bible Clubs

Praying for Backyard Bible Clubs

Backyard Bible Clubs are a great way to connect with neighbors, train youth in service and ministry, and have an impact for the Gospel.

One key component for an effective Backyard Bible Club is prayer.

  • Pray early during planning and preparation.
    • Pray for God’s wisdom in the details, from which curriculum to choose to the dates and times to have the club(s).
    • Pray that your volunteers would have a passion for serving and a heart for children to hear about our Great Savior.
  • Pray often both individually and corporately.
    • Incorporate prayer for the Backyard Bible Club into your personal devotions.
    • Pray as a team during preparation and training, as well as for all aspects of the club.
  • Pray before and during the club.
    • Gather as a team before the children arrive to pray that God would direct the time together and for God to work in each heart.
    • Pray for each child who would come, and for anything of concern that came to light the previous day.
    • Have the people running snack time pray for the children during snack time.
  • Pray as you and your team follow up with families after the club, inviting them to a program or meal after the club, and even to church.
    • Pray for hearts to see God and faith to grow.
    • Pray for families to be welcomed and loved by those putting on the club.

Continue Reading…

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.

Continue Reading…

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