When I am Afraid—Fighting Worries with the Word

I remember when every night was a struggle to get our daughter to bed. It was as if nighttime brought to her mind every possible catastrophic scenario. She was terrified! As parents, we were tempted to simply address her fears with simple, rational explanations: “See, there are no monsters under your bed.” “The dark can’t hurt you.” Etc.

Sometimes these explanations can be helpful, but they can never give our children unshakeable peace and assurance in the myriad of fearful situations they will experience both now and in the future. That’s why I am so excited about When I am Afraid, a new children’s resource from Truth78. A full-color picture book, When I am Afraid addresses one of the most common experiences of children: FEAR. It provides parents with a tool for helping their children look to God’s all-powerful Word to conquer fear and worry.

Through carefully selected verses, children are reminded of the character of God and His wonderful provision and protection of His people.

The book’s “Word to Parents” and “How to Use this Book” sections provide a strong foundation and context for going beyond simply reading the book to their child(ren). It encourages parents to use the illustrations and verses to engage their child’s heart in further spiritual discussion, points them to the Gospel, and shows them their need for responding in faith.

A mother wrote to share this story of how the message helped her guide her son:

My three children take turns sleeping with our toddler, so every third night our middle son must sleep alone, which creates overwhelming fear and sadness for him.

Last night was a night that son was asked to sleep alone. He broke down again. This time, we all read your book on fear. I think we could all feel our confidence in God build as we read through it together. His Word is so powerful. We all laid hands on my son who had been so frightened and each of us prayed for him and he went to bed – without tears!  It was a real victory!

This book is fantastic and not too young for anyone. I think I’ll try and use it when we teach the lesson on “Jesus Calms Fearful Sinners” in the kindergarten class…just perfect!

You can read more about the book, including sample pages, here.

You can also download here a PDF of the lesson “Jesus Calms Fearful Sinners” that is in the “Jesus, What a Savior” curriculum.

 

Showing Honor to Those Who Minister to Your Children

Have you ever been struck by the number of people the apostle Paul mentions at the end of many of his letters? For the most part, we know very little about these men and women. Yet to Paul, they were beloved ministry partners who assisted him in a variety of ways in spreading the gospel and establishing churches. His acknowledgement must have been a great encouragement to each of them; a type of “thank you” to them for their faithful service. But then we shouldn’t be surprised by this since Paul also wrote,

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor (Romans 12:10).

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, (Ephesians 1:16).

Church leaders and parents, have you considered how you might acknowledge, thank, and honor the people who have faithfully, week after week, ministered to the children of your church, as well as your own children, this past year? Let me share two brief experiences of being on the receiving end of such gratitude as a long-time Sunday school teacher. One demonstrates what parents can do and the other what church leadership can do.

What parents can do—In my home office, I have a file folder titled, “Encouragement.” In it are notes—simple, handwritten notes from children I have taught throughout the years. Typically, I received these notes during the last weeks of the class year. Some notes made me laugh. Some made me cry happy tears. Each note is precious. Each brings to mind a memory of a specific child. Each is a source of lasting encouragement.

Parents, please don’t underestimate the power of your six-year-old’s barely legible “thank you” on a note card to a Sunday school teacher. Consider how you might use the next few weeks as an opportunity to teach your children about showing thankfulness for those who have served them. You might use the above verses as discussion starters and then think of a practical way to apply these verses.

What church leadership can do—For years our church hosted the annual Appreciation Banquet for all children’s and youth ministry volunteers. We were treated to a wonderful meal and/or dessert, a small gift, and most importantly, testimonies from parents and students and message from Pastor David Michael. We went away feeling honored and encouraged (and for many of us, we wanted to “sign-up” to teach again next year!).

Whether you help your children write a simple note, give a verbal—“Thank you so much for teaching!” —or participate in a banquet or giving a small gift, these are just a few examples of encouraging teachers. A little can go a long way toward providing biblical encouragement which builds up the body of Christ and is pleasing in God’s sight.

Harmony between the pulpit and children’s ministry


Thirty-some years ago I was a frustrated Sunday school teacher. Why? Because the majestic scope and depth of the glories of God that was preached so faithfully from the pulpit week after week was being dangerously minimized and skewed in the Sunday school classroom. From the pulpit we heard great truths proclaimed such as,

The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. (Acts 17:24-25)

Yet the main point of a lesson on the Exodus I was to teach the children was, “God needed Moses to help Him deliver the Israelites from Egypt.” The pulpit and the classroom were on two different trajectories. One proclaimed a biblical vision of an almighty, self-sufficient God; and the other, a man-construed weak and needy “God.” I longed to teach the children about the all-satisfying delight of knowing, trusting, and treasuring an  almighty, self-sufficient God!

Watch as John Piper explains the importance of the pulpit and children’s and youth ministry being in harmony with one another and how Truth78 materials served to bridge the gap.

Church and Home: Better Together

My birding binoculars recently went haywire. When you look through both eyepieces you get a distorted double image. Yet if you look through each individual eyepiece using one eye at a time, you get a clear image. The problem is that this image is very limited in its scope. Somehow the two eyepieces are out of sync with one another, greatly reducing the usefulness of the binoculars.

This illustration can help in describing the importance of the church and home working “in sync”—in  partnership—with one another in nurturing the faith of the next generations. Though parents are given the primary responsibility to raise children in the faith, by design and opportunity (Deuteronomy 6:4-7), God has also designed that this nurturing take place in partnership with the church (Matthew 28:18-20 and Ephesians 4:11-13).  This partnership affirms the role and responsibility of church leadership to provide encouragement and training for parents as well as provide formal instruction for children and youth.  Individually, both church and home, have an important role to play in our children’s discipleship. But the scope and impact will be far greater when church and home are intentionally working together to nurture the faith of our children.

The first step in fostering this biblical parent-church partnership is to explore, clarify, and communicate what this partnership consists of and how it will be fleshed out, addressing questions like:

  • What is the church’s vision for children’s and youth ministry?
  • What will be the church’s responsibility in pursuing this vision?
  • What specific biblical instruction will be offered to children and youth?
  • How will the church equip parents?
  • What is expected of parents?

Getting started

Here are two printable documents that outline some first steps and practical suggestions for fostering a healthy partnership between church and home.

Parents: Partnering with Your Church

Church: Partnering with Parents

 

 

The Joyful Responsibility of Discipling Our Children

Parents desire many things to be true of our children as they grow and mature. For example, we want our children to be loving, respectful, caring, productive, motivated, resilient, happy, and more. All are good things and worthwhile goals and require some measure of our time and attention as we instruct and train our children toward these goals. But consider these words:

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.—3 JOHN 1:4

This simple statement can serve to orient all of our parenting. More than anything else, our children need to know, embrace, and walk in the truth—the truth of God. The truth revealed in His Word has the power to make them wise for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ—the truth that all-satisfying and everlasting joy is found in Him alone, the truth that saving faith will be evidenced by a life that submits to the Savior and walks in His ways. This goal and aim is reflected in Truth78’s Vision Statement:

Truth78 is a vision-oriented ministry for the next generations—that they may know, honor, and treasure God, setting their hope in Christ alone, so that they will live as faithful disciples for the glory of God.

If parents are to pursue this God-glorifying vision for our children, we must make sure to carefully prioritize and maximize our children’s spiritual instruction. While there is an important and God-ordained role for the wider body of Christ (the church) in biblical instruction, parents have the primary responsibility and the greatest opportunity to influence their children’s spiritual development. (See Deuteronomy 6:4-9.)  

I don’t think there’s a mandate to be found in sacred Scripture that is more solemn than this one. That we are to teach our children the truth of God’s Word is a sacred, holy responsibility that God gives to His people. And it’s not something that is to be done only one day a week in Sunday school. We can’t abdicate the responsibility to the church. The primary responsibility for the education of children according to Scripture is the family, the parents.1

R.C. SPROUL

One thing that often hinders parents in this regard is the pressure of competing demands on our time and energy. These are valid concerns. But consider for a moment these thoughts from Pastor Chap Bettis: 

“Where does discipling my child fit with the other priorities?” Surrounding us are parents making superhuman sacrifices for their children’s soccer practice, hockey practice (5 a.m. ice time?), academic progress, and music lessons (two instruments at the same time?). We can be tempted to follow them. While we may give lip service to discipling our children, the reality comes when we start prioritizing activities.

The apostle John expressed his heart for his spiritual children when he wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4). Here lies the crux of the matter: The first battleground of family discipleship is not my child’s heart—it is my heart. Each parent must decide whether he is more concerned that his child be accepted into Heaven, or “Harvard.” We all have “Harvards”—those worldly successes we desire for our children, but the question remains, “Which is most important to me?” Each parent must finish the sentence “I have no greater joy than…”

I would emphasize here that the challenge of priorities is often not the good versus the bad, rather, the good versus the better. Given a finite amount of time, energy, and money, what will you choose?2

CHAP BETTIS

As parents, our first priority must be our desire for our children’s spiritual development. Then we can order our time and energies accordingly. One way to do this is to establish a regular time of formal biblical instruction in the home through family devotions. 

Family Devotions Basics

At its core, family devotions simply involve setting aside a designated time in family life in which to be devoted to God together. Along with reading, interacting with, and instruction from the Scriptures, families often include a time of prayer, a response of worship (singing), and personal application.  

Truth78 Devotional Resources

Most families find it helpful to use published devotional materials designed specifically for families. At Truth78, we currently offer a variety of devotional resources to use in the family.

The Teaching Philosophy and Methodology of Truth78 Devotional Resources

We believe that there is an important progression involved in encouraging our children for a life of faith in Christ. To put it very succinctly: MIND HEART WILL. Children must first be presented with biblical truth for their minds to absorb, ponder, and understand. Knowledge of God and His Word is the essential first step for faith (Romans 10:17). You cannot trust, love, and act upon what you do not know. Next, that truth must go beyond mere knowledge. It must reach and transform the heart so that children might truly embrace, cherish, and love the truth—specifically love of God through faith in Christ. Finally, this love will affect the will as it comes under submission to Christ, producing decisions, choices, words, and actions that are pleasing to God. 

While we must fully acknowledge that only God can bring about this Spirit-wrought, grace-dependent transformation, we believe that it is our responsibility to guide, inspire, and implore our children to make a personal and sincere response to God’s truth in their minds, hearts, and will. Therefore, our devotional resources are designed to instruct the mind, engage their hearts, and influence the will.

Practical Tips for Family Devotion Times

For some, especially those who grew up in the absence of family devotion time, leading family devotions can feel intimidating and stressful. But there are also a variety of things that you can do to create a more conducive environment for your family.

  • Have a regularly scheduled (and child-friendly) time for devotions. 
  • Keep track of time—stretch your child’s attention span, but don’t exasperate them. 
  • It is preferred that (if possible) the father should lead the devotional time. 
  • Choose a regular place in your home—one with as few distractions as possible (no TV, etc.). 
  • Begin your time with prayer. 
  • Put any and all electronic devices (e.g. phones, tablets) out of reach. 
  • End in prayer. 
  • In order to motivate a younger child’s attentiveness, consider following your devotional time with a special snack or dessert.

1. From, “The Most Solemn Mandate in the Bible for Parents”, ligonier.org.
2. Bettis, Chap. The Disciple-Making Parent: A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ. (Cumberland, Rhode Island: Diamond Hill Publishing, 2016), 17.

Ordinary Means, Extraordinary Fruit

As a Sunday school teacher, I have always approached the last weeks of the school year with mixed emotions. Was I faithful week to week in teaching God’s Word? Did my students “get it”? Do they give evidence of faith in Jesus? Have I seen any spiritual fruit? What about that child who seemed bored all year? What about the one who was often disrespectful in class? What should I have done differently?… The list of questions goes on and on. At times, it’s easy to lose heart when I don’t see spiritual fruit coming about in the manner I expect. Parents often struggle with these same questions and emotions regarding their children’s spiritual condition.

Here is a word of encouragement from our new book, Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, for teachers and parents who long for their students and children to be vibrant and fruitful disciples of Jesus:

We do not always fully see the spiritual fruit of our endeavors in this lifetime, but we can be confident in the sovereign grace of God to accomplish His saving work in the lives of His people. When His Word goes out, it never fails to bring about His purposes. That seemingly bored little girl you teach week-by-week in Sunday school class may, by God’s grace, become a great woman of faith who dedicates her life to nurturing her family and sharing the Gospel with other women. That rebellious young boy in your own home may, by God’s grace, become a man of God who faithfully shepherds a small local church. And often it is through “ordinary” means that God brings about extraordinary fruit in the lives of children—means such as teaching children to read the Bible, memorize Scripture, pray, participate in the worship service, and to observe God’s hand in nature.

Consider one man’s testimony,

I remember reading my King James Version Bible, from age 6 or 7 every night. It was a habit I got from my parents, and my grandmother encouraged in me as well. I didn’t understand everything in it. I could follow along and make out some of the words. It was God’s Word and it was fascinating to me. I deeply treasured those words of God from a very early age.

I remember when I was 12, praying one night with my mother to trust Jesus, ask Him into my heart, have Him be my Savior. I made a profession of faith and then was baptized at First Baptist Church in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I remember coming to Minneapolis at 13 for a Billy Graham Crusade—that would have been 1961—and going forward then as a recommitment of my life. I remember those things but now, looking back earlier in my life, I would not date my conversation to age 12 or 13 because I see evidences of regeneration—genuine saving faith—much, much earlier. I loved to sit at the piano and sing hymns. I loved to read my Bible. When I was out on the playground, riding my bike, or out playing baseball, I would be praying to God quietly during the day. I see evidences way back at a very early stage because of Christian parents who brought me up in a Christian home and brought me to Sunday School, and I’m so thankful for that heritage.

In some ways, this is a very simple, “unspectacular” testimony. A young boy brought to faith through very ordinary means: reading the Bible, encouragement from family, the teaching and preaching of the Word, praying, and singing hymns. Yet, God was pleased to do extraordinary things by His sovereign grace in this young boy’s life.

Who is the man sharing this testimony? Dr. Wayne Grudem: theologian, author, seminary professor, and defender of the Christian faith. He gave this short testimony during his address, “Teaching the Richness of the Entire Gospel,” (part 1, at our 2007 National Conference. His testimony reflects the importance of the calling given in Psalm 78:1-7. Charles Spurgeon wrote the following concerning those verses:

We will look forward to future generations, and endeavor to provide for their godly education. It is the duty of the church of God to maintain, in fullest vigor, every agency intended for the religious education of the young; to them we must look for the church of the future, and as we sow towards them so shall we reap[1].

Teachers and parents, do not grow weary in providing your students and children with the “ordinary” means of a godly education: reading and teaching from the Bible, offering godly encouragement, attending corporate worship, listening to the preached Word, praying, singing hymns, etc. Because it is through these means that God, by His sovereign grace, does extraordinary things. May we diligently “endeavor to provide for their godly education” and pray earnestly that God would bring forth extraordinary fruit in their lives, for His glory and their indestructible joy!

Order your copy of Indestructible Joy for the Next Generations, or download the free e-book, here.

[1] The Treasury of David, vol.III (New York, NY: Funk & Wagnalls, 1886), 433.

Four Resources for Moms as Disciplers of Their Children

I thoroughly enjoy watching my daughter and daughter-in-law in the throes of motherhood. There is never a dull moment! But amidst all the busyness – a good busyness – my hope and prayer for them and myself is that we not lose sight of what is most important in our mothering: To acquaint our children with the Scriptures so that, by God’s grace, they will be made wise for salvation in Christ and be equipped for every good work, all for His glory. In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul reminds Timothy of the spiritual influence of his mother Eunice and grandmother Lois,

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Mothering with this aim in mind is both a wonderful privilege and serious responsibility. It will require us to provide our children with faithful biblical instruction as well as modeling grace-dependent Gospel-living. I love the way Charles Spurgeon encouraged mothers more than 100 years ago,

O dear mothers you have a very sacred trust reposed in you by God! He has in effect said to you, “Take this child and nurse it for Me, and I will give you your wages.” You are called to equip the future man of God that he may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work. If God spares you, you may live to hear that pretty boy speak to thousands, and you will have the sweet reflection in your heart that the quiet teachings of the nursery led the man to love his God and serve Him. Those who think that a woman detained at home by her little family is doing nothing, think the reverse of what is true. Scarcely can the godly mother quit her home for a place of worship, but dream not that she is lost to the work of the church, far from it, she is doing the best possible service for her Lord. Mothers, the godly training of your offspring is your first and most pressing duty. Christian women, by teaching children the Holy Scriptures, are as much fulfilling their part for the Lord, as Moses in judging Israel, or Solomon in building the Temple.

(Sermon #1866, “The Sunday School and the Scriptures,” www.spurgeongems.org)

At Truth78, our mission is to nurture the faith of the next generations by equipping the church and home with resources and training that instruct the mind, engage the heart, and influence the will through proclaiming the whole counsel of God. This includes equipping moms. Following are some resources that will serve moms as they nurture the faith of their children, including several booklets that could be included in a Mother’s Day gift:

  • Wife, Mother, Disciple-Maker
    Our vision of motherhood will shape our attitude, our actions, our influence, and the outcome of our mothering. Christian mothers are God’s ambassadors to their children, called to the ministry of reconciliation and discipleship. In this video, Sally unfolds a biblical vision for mothering and gives some practical suggestions for being effective ambassadors in our homes.
  • Mothers: The Disciplers of the Next Generations
    Mothering is a great work; a God-given opportunity to influence the next generations to put their trust in God. This booklet will challenge you to look on your mothering with a biblical perspective, to seize the opportunities God gives you each day to encourage faith in you children, and to rely on Him as your Sin-bearer and Enabler to do the great work He has called you to do.
  • Helping Children to Understand the Gospel
    This booklet explores how you can prepare the hearts of your children to hear the Gospel; discerning stages of spiritual growth; communicating the essential truths of the Gospel; and presenting the Gospel in an accurate and child-friendly manner. Includes a 10-week family devotional to help parents explain the Gospel to their children.
  • Praying for the Next Generations
    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.

Distinctions of the Truth78 Curriculum

At Truth78, we are committed to making God the main focus of each and every lesson by unfolding the Scriptures for children. Though each curriculum in our scope and sequence differs somewhat based on age and particular focus, all of our Sunday School, Midweek Bible, and Intergenerational curricula share the following distinctions:

  • A Big Vision of God—Our curricula aims to acquaint children with the incomparable majesty of the triune God by digging deep into His divine character as revealed throughout Scripture. We believe that children should be taught the beauty and grandeur of His manifold perfections. In completing our scope and sequence, children will have learned and explored, with increasing depth, more than 20 distinct attributes of God.
  • The Centrality of God in All Things—Every lesson in every curriculum aims to magnify the triune God above all—His name, fame, honor, and glory. We believe that children will find their greatest joy when they esteem God most. Therefore, the lessons use language, illustrations, and applications that point children toward God-adoration. Furthermore, the curricula challenge children to see that every aspect of life is to fall under centrality of God and His sovereign rule.
  • Doctrinal Depth, Accuracy, and Clarity—We believe deep biblical truths and doctrines can and should be taught to children. Doing so requires teaching truths in an accurate, clear, yet child-friendly manner. To that end, every lesson in our curricula is carefully reviewed by a highly qualified and experienced theological editor.
  • Faithfulness to the Gospel—The central message of the Bible culminates in the Person and work of Jesus—the Gospel—in which He brings sinners near to God. The Gospel is simple yet amazingly profound, freely offered yet extremely costly, and should be communicated as such. We believe this is best done by repeatedly drawing attention to essential Gospel truths found throughout Scripture: God is the sovereign Creator and Ruler, God is holy, man is sinful, God is just, God is merciful, Jesus is holy and righteous, Jesus died to save sinners, etc. Every lesson presents one or more of these essential truths, and every curriculum, as a whole, clearly and explicitly presents the Gospel to children.
  • Interactive Engagement with Scripture—Using an age-appropriate, step-by-step approach, the lesson format trains students to interact with the text using proper Bible study methods. This process begins in earnest in first grade, and increases in depth and rigor as children age and mature. Furthermore, we incorporate an interactive teaching style, carefully laid out for teachers. This serves to develop critical thinking and reasoning skills aimed at a deeper understanding of the things of God and the ability to rightly apply the Word of God.
  • Age-Appropriate Visuals and Illustrations that Enhance the Learning Experience—Key truths are often more easily grasped and better understood when explained in conjunction with concrete visuals and illustrations. Our curricula offer numerous color visuals and suggested illustrations to enhance the learning process. In so doing, children are provided with opportunities to be actively involved in the lesson. These visuals and illustrations are age-appropriate, yet also treat the subject matter in an honoring manner.
  • Personal Application That Encourages a Proper Response in the Mind, Heart, and Will—Each lesson in our curricula ends by encouraging children to personally embrace and apply the truths learned. Through carefully constructed questions, we offer adult leaders practical, specific suggestions to challenge the children in their faith and spiritual walk. Our goal is to encourage genuine faith that is increasingly evidenced by love for God and spiritual fruit and good works. We also offer questions that specifically challenge unbelievers to consider the truths of Scripture.
  • Maximizing Classroom Time with Biblical Teaching and Spiritual Discussion—We believe that time in the classroom should be structured to emphasize biblical teaching and application. However, depending on the age group and time availability, additional hands-on activities may be warranted. Therefore, each lesson suggests further optional activities for the classroom. They have been developed to either reinforce lesson themes or introduce some other valuable faith-building endeavor: missions, Bible skills, Bible memory, etc.

Summer Sowing with Backyard Bible Clubs

Truth78 // Summer Sowing with Backyard Bible Clubs

My backyard looks like a barren arctic landscape. It’s hard to imagine planting a garden here when it’s currently buried under 18 inches of new April snow. But spring will come—eventually. God controls the times and seasons. He is faithful! Soon this lifeless looking space will burst forth in a myriad of beautiful colors. How? I will go out and sow seed, water and care for it, and God will bring the growth. And yet, these plants will fade and die come winter, ushering in another season of barrenness.

But there is an infinitely better seed for sowing; one that can be sown in your own backyard this summer. This seed has the ability bring about and spread eternal joy in your neighborhood—God’s Word! Truth78’s Backyard Bible Club (BYBC) curricula are designed for just such seed sowing in your neighborhood. Read on to find out more.

What is a Backyard Bible Club? How is it different than Vacation Bible School?

A Backyard Bible Club is simply a new twist on an old idea; namely, a new twist on a traditional Vacation Bible School program. VBS usually takes place for a week’s duration, during the summer, at a local church or other designated location and is organized and led by the children’s director along with volunteers. Most often the focus of the VBS is evangelistic: Creating an appealing environment for welcoming children from non-Christian homes in order to expose them to the Gospel. A BYBC shares this latter goal but uses a different venue for doing so. Instead of taking place at the local church, the BYBC is located at homes of church members, in their backyards (or front yards), and is led by these same members who have been equipped and trained by their church.

There are several reasons we believe a BYBC is strategic. Here are just a few:

  • An increasing number of people are completely un-churched. Therefore, they may be less willing to send their children to an actual “church” event. On the other hand, most Christians already have some level of positive involvement with the parents and children in their own neighborhoods. A BYBC takes advantage of these existing relationships and seeks to build upon them. Therefore, a BYBC helps foster a long-term, relational model of evangelism that can provide ongoing interaction with both parents and children. Unbelievers can see the Gospel modeled and lived out in the lives of their Christian neighbors.
  • Because a BYBC is not centralized in one location, it can be conducive to a local church’s larger mission of engaging the community—reaching unbelievers close to where they live. Thus, unbelievers learn to identify “the church” as not mainly a building but as a people—a people who trust and follow Jesus, not just on Sunday, but every day of the week.
  • A traditional VBS program is labor intensive for both church staff and volunteers. By design, a BYBC is smaller by nature, more flexible in its structure, can accommodate a greater diversity of schedules, and distributes the work among a greater number of members. Furthermore, a BYBC offers individual families within the church an excellent way to minister together. Every member of the family can participate in a meaningful way.
  • Most VBS curricula is not only expensive but also requires extensive set-up and preparation. Much of the expense and preparation is geared toward lots of “bells and whistles”: exciting visual elements, fun activities, crafts, food, etc. While a BYBC does include some of these in limited measure, the focus of the time is given to communicating the life-giving message of God’s Word and encouraging thoughtful interaction with the Word.

Truth78 Backyard Bible Club Curricula

Truth78 // Things HiddenWe currently have the following curricula available for BYBC. All of them are designed for school-aged children and have an evangelistic focus. These curricula can be used in any order, and may also be used for a traditional VBS.

Wisdom Calls Aloud
Once we are free from the fear of God’s wrath, our fear of Him is the beginning of gaining wisdom.

The Call of God 
It is the duty of every human to respond to God in faith and belief, and yet, every person is dependent on the work of God in redemption.

Things Hidden 
Exploring the Kingdom parables Jesus used in order to conceal the kingdom from those who doubted and explain it to those who would believe.

God Always Wins 
No matter individual circumstances and challenges, God’s sovereign wisdom, power, and purpose show the Greatness of God in Salvation.

Getting started – Basic questions and answers regarding using our BYBC resources

1. How often do Backyard Bible Clubs meet and when do they meet?

Most clubs run five sessions. These can be held in the morning, afternoon, or early evening. Most people hold the sessions in a one-week period (i.e. Monday through Friday) but they can also be held once-a-week for five weeks. The sessions can be held inside or outside.

2. What is the duration of each session?

The sessions can be from 1-3 hours long, depending on how many activities you would like to include.

3. Who should be invited?

Neighborhood children, friends of your children, and children of relatives—especially children you will have continued contact with.

4. What age children should be included?

The material is recommended for kindergarten through 6th grade. 

5. How many children can be included?

The number of children you invite should take into account the number of helpers you have and the size of your yard and/or home.  A recommended ratio would be one adult for every six-to-eight children. The younger the children, the smaller the adult/child ration should be.

6. What does a typical session look like?

  • Opening activity
  • 30-minute interactive lesson
  • Application discussion done in smaller groups that may be separated into age groupings
  • Additional activities: Games, crafts, songs, snacks, etc.

7. What roles (people) are needed for hosting a Backyard Bible Club?

For each session you will need people to assume one or more of the following roles:

  • A host to provide the location
  • A teacher who prepares and presents the Bible lesson
  • Adults to facilitate small group discussion
  • Volunteers to prepare and help with additional activities

We strongly suggest the above be done by a committed team of people working together. This may be one or more families working together, a small group from church, etc.

8. Is there any outreach to the parents of the children or any other follow-up with the children?

Each day a parent take-home sheet is provided giving a brief summary of the lesson, the memory verse, and something to think about. Also, we strongly recommend that you (and your church) consider giving each child a Bible or other Bible resource to take home. Here are some family-friendly resources that would introduce parents and children to some basic truths of the Christian faith:

9. Is conversion the goal of the Backyard Bible Club?

The goal is to introduce children to spiritual truth and provide an opening for ongoing spiritual discussion with children and their parents. Each of our BYBC curricula present essential Gospel truths and encourage children toward a right, genuine response to those truths. However, we do not overly press children toward a profession of trust in Christ. Rather, we emphasize planting seeds of the Gospel, praying that the Holy Spirit would bring about the fruit of faith in the lives of the children, and pursuing an ongoing relationship with the children and their parents.

10. How can the church help facilitate Backyard Bible Clubs?

  • Communicate the vision behind the BYBC strategy. Ideally, this should be done early in late winter or early spring to give your members time to understand and embrace the vision.
  • Equip and train those who want to participate in a BYBC.
    • Provide all the necessary curriculum components.
    • Offer practical training in how to host a BYBC and effectively use the materials.
    • Facilitate and coordinate networking, matching volunteers with their desired roles.
    • If possible, offer financial assistance for any additional costs associated with activities, snacks, crafts, etc.
    • Consider providing a Bible resource for the BYBC hosts to give to the children who will be participating.
    • Commit to praying for each BYBC as it occurs.

 

 

Like Arrows Movie Inspires Parents in Discipleship

Truth78 // Like Arrows Movie

On May 1st and 3rd, FamilyLife is releasing the feature film, Like Arrows, produced by Dennis and Barbara Rainey and Bob Lepine, as well as Alex and Stephen Kendrick, the producers of Courageous, Fireproof, War Room, and Facing the Giants.

Bob Lepine summarizes the film this way:

Like Arrows is an honest portrayal of an ordinary couple journeying through every phase of parenting, from pregnancy to their golden anniversary. Like any other family, Charlie and Alice Morris face typical parenting struggles. Through these difficulties, they become aware of their need to be more intentional in their parenting and are introduced to God’s blueprints for marriage and family. The parenting journey is both incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding at the same time. We wanted to take viewers on what we hope will be a very relatable journey. And in the process, we hope they’ll be inspired to make their faith more core to how they function as a family.”

As someone who has invested more than 25 years supporting and equipping parents for this incredibly challenging and incredibly rewarding” responsibility, I was very pleased, when I previewed the film, with the biblical way in which important parenting issues are addressed. It reminds parents of the influence they have over the course of their children’s lives and inspires them to faithfully pursue their calling to disciple their children in the Christian faith with God’s Word.

The film can stand alone as a resource for equipping parents but also integrates with FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting™ series which unpacks the issues that the movie addresses into practical guidance for parents. Find out more about the movie at familylifeministries.org/likearrows.

 

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