Children Desiring God has developed a resource to assist parents in presenting the essential truths of the Gospel to children. Leave us a comment of any length on today's post, and your name will be entered for a drawing in which five names will be chosen to receive the booklet, Helping Children to Understand the Gospel.
Since it was released in 2009, the booklet Helping Children Understand the Gospel has been used in a number of creative ways. Although it was written to help parents explain the Gospel to their children in an accurate and child-friendly manner, God has multiplied its usefulness to bless the church. Understanding and meditating on the truths of the Gospel is is not just for children, but for families, teachers, youth, young adults and grandparents, too!
In January 2010, Riverpark Bible Church in Fresno, California, used Helping Children Understand the Gospel to begin a church-wide, 10-week, “Ten Truths” study. After encouraging parents to read parts one and two of the booklet on their own, they kicked off the study with a sermon outlining the ten truths. In this video Pastor Dave and Sandy Parker share what they did and what happened:
In yesterday's post, we talked about the importance of giving children a proper context in which to understand the significance of Jesus' death on the cross. Namely, they must understand something of God's holiness, wrath, love, and grace. But how can we do this without unnecessarily "weighing" the story down with lengthy, deep theological explanations? Here is one suggestion:
Before or after telling the story of the crucifixion—the actual events—provide the children with a summarized context in which to understand why Jesus died on the cross. This summary could include some of the following truths communicated in age-appropriate language:
The Gospel is the most important truth one generation can communicate to the next, and God calls parents and teachers to be wise sowers. This calls for accurate, discerning, and intentional practices of cultivating, teaching, and praying in the hope that God, who gives the growth, will work in children’s hearts to yield hundredfold harvests of faith.
This booklet was developed to help parents and teachers think about what elements should be considered when presenting the Gospel to children, including:
Yesterday's post talked about the importance of not allowing the story of Jesus' death on the cross to become a "flyover" as it were between Palm Sunday and Easter. But as we tell the story of the cross, we must also give children a proper context in which to understand what really happened. The crucifixion narrative is grounded in some huge theological truths. Consider this helpful statement from Jerry Bridges,
The love of God has no meaning apart from Calvary. And Calvary has no meaning apart from the holy and just wrath of God. Jesus did not die just to give us peace and a purpose in life; He died to save us from the wrath of God. He died to reconcile us to a holy God who was alienated from us because of our sin. He died to ransom us from the penalty of sin—the punishment of everlasting destruction, shut out from the presence
This is a big topic! Thankfully Dr. Ware distills the essence of the issue using the following quote from A. W. Tozer as a jumping off point:
—A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
Dr. Ware continues by saying,
That is true for us and for the next generation that we minister to and train – that we get God rightly. ... We have to continually point the next generation to the revelation of God Himself, to see from Scripture just who He is.
This is Holy Week and, as a Sunday school teacher, I have always found it somewhat frustrating that in our teaching cycle Good Friday is situated between two joyous celebrations. If we are not careful and intentional, Jesus' death on the cross can become a "flyover" between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Think about it for a moment. Both Palm Sunday and Easter lend themselves to all sorts of wonderful and exciting possibilities for the children—colorful crafts and activities, boisterous songs, and happy Bible stories. But what about the cross? It doesn't lend itself to these naturally appealing activities, does it? The story of Jesus' death on the cross is filled with pain, sorrow, betrayal, abandonment, and darkness. It is the story of a holy and righteous Father pouring out His just wrath at sin on His one beloved sinless Son. But
A question from a third grader after reviewing the biblical story of Adam and Eve's sin in eating of the one tree...
“Mrs. Nelson, why did God put the tree in the garden in the first place?”
Thinking to myself: That's a really good question! When did third graders get so smart? I wish I had Dr. Wayne Grudem on speed-dial. How can I stall while I try to think this through?
These days there is a lot of emphasis on teaching children through narrative and story. And while it is true that many parts of the Bible are written in narrative form (as in the case of Genesis 3), and good story-telling can be an effective means of teaching children, the fact remains that we also need to ground our children in sound doctrine. What is doctrine? Well, you could say that it is basically looking at what the whole Bible teaches about different topics—God, creation,
In this video, Dr. Bruce A. Ware helps us distinguish the difference between holiness and legalism as we teach and train our children.
The video includes this nugget, which gets to the heart of the matter:
The difference is this: Holiness is a life lived out of a sense of joy and authenticity, that living faithfully and obediently is the good life - is the life of joy and blessing. Whereas legalism is a kind of dutiful adherence to laws that my heart is not engaged in.
Some good words to think about from Paul David Tripp for every parent and everyone who ministers to children and youth...
What a teenager needs, if he is going to live a God-honoring life, is a thorough knowledge of Scripture that allows him to apply its commands, principles, and perspectives to the many different situations that arise in everyday life. He needs to be more than a person who has acquired biblical knowledge; he needs to be a person who is able to approach life with biblical wisdom.
I am convinced that many teenagers are unprepared for the spiritual struggle because they have never been taught to think biblically. They have been in Sunday school, so they know all the familiar Bible stories and they have memorized all of the favorite Bible passages, but these are not much more than isolated,