Here are some common words/phrases included in describing the contemporary children’s Sunday school class: fun, exciting, relevant Bible lessons, engaging, loving environment, energetic worship, hands-on activities, faith-building,…etc. All descriptions that may be appropriate—to a greater or lesser extent—and definitely welcoming to many a parent and child.
But I wonder how many descriptions include some reference to “serious theological study.” Not for children? Think again. Here is a wonderful article by Pastor Jared Wilson titled, “Theological Study Is for Everyone.” (And yes, I think “everyone” applies to children and youth, too.) He gives three reasons why this is so. Here are some excerpts from the article:
The Easter sermons and lessons have come and gone. Hopefully, our children and the students in our classrooms have been presented with a clear, compelling Gospel message in the past weeks. The sermons and lessons may have explicitly called upon our children to “repent and believe the good news.” And, Lord willing, there have been children who give evidence to true, saving faith. But here is a note of caution—not meant to cause despair—but to help us be discerning in order that we might guide and direct our children toward a biblical understanding of what it truly means to repent and believe the good news of the Gospel.
For example, consider these texts:
…“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew
This week, I’ve had the privilege of getting a sneak-peak at Sally Michael’s new seminar, “Catechism: Out-of-Date, or a Tried-and-True Teaching Tool of Eternal Truths?,” which she will be presenting at our National Conference (a mere two and a half weeks away!). It is an excellent seminar in which she draws upon the time-tested wisdom of our Christian forebears. Here is one sample of one such man. Sally quotes John Murray from his article titled, “Catechizing: A Forgotten Practice”:
The foundation of all religion, Isaac Watts reminds us, is laid
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:
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
Do your students ever leave the classroom with more questions than they came in with? Do they ever seem perplexed by what they have just experienced? (No, I am not referring to the outcome of a disorderly classroom or a poorly taught, confusing lesson.) In fact, this apparent perplexity in your students might be a sign that something very significant is happening in the students’ heads and hearts. Here are some good words for teachers from Dr. Howard Hendricks:
Never forget that your task is to develop people who are self-directed, who are disciplined, who do what they do because they choose to do it. That’s why I suggest you spend more time questioning answers than answering questions. Our job is not to give quick-and-easy answers,
With spring just around the corner, it’s not too early to start making summer plans…plans for vacation, plans for a garden, and maybe plans for a Backyard Bible Club or Vacation Bible School.
If you’ve never done a Backyard Bible Club before, just think of the possibilities before you. Every member of your family or small group can participate—inviting children, teaching a lesson, leading in singing, helping with crafts or games, providing treats, or just making sure everyone feels welcomed and loved.
Most Backyard Bible Clubs meet for five sessions. These could be five consecutive mornings or afternoons, or you could spread them out a bit. Invite neighborhood children, your children’s classmates, and the children of coworkers, friends, or relatives. Hold the club in your backyard or garage.
As preparation for my seminar “Engaging Active Minds in the Learning Process,” I’ve been reading some really inspiring and challenging books and articles, which have led me to believe that the problems of our day are greater than I first assumed. For example, in the introduction to his excellent book, “Essentials of the Christian Faith,” R. C. Sproul makes the following observation:
I believe we are living in the most anti-intellectual era of Christian history ever known…I mean against the mind.
It was with mingled sadness and joy that I learned of Jerry Bridges' passing at age 86. One of the great legacies he leaves behind that I have personally benefited from was his emphasis on the biblical call to a Gospel-centered, grace-fueled pursuit of holiness in the Christian life. Toward that end, his writings repeatedly direct our attention to a rich, deep, grand vision of God—a vision too often minimized in contemporary children’s and youth ministry. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from his book The Practice of Godliness—Godliness Has Value for All
Imagine a preschool Sunday school curriculum that presents 64 chronological Bible stories from the Old Testament…all of them focusing on the character of God. Is there something wrong with this? Something missing? Doesn’t the whole Bible point to Jesus? Shouldn’t we make clear that every story points to Jesus?
Before you respond to these important and valid questions, I would ask you to carefully read and ponder this quote from J. Gresham Machen:
…when men say that we know God only as He is revealed in Jesus, they are denying all real knowledge of God whatever. For unless there be some idea of God independent of Jesus, the ascription of deity to Jesus has no meaning. To say, “Jesus is God,”