A while back I sat with my two oldest grandchildren flipping through a family photo album of one of our early family camping trips to Wyoming. As we paged through the pictures amidst a flood of wonderful memories, my grandchildren were fascinated by the adventures their mommy experienced as a young girl. I am so thankful to have that photo album.
What child doesn’t love to look at old family pictures? Now imagine your child having a “theological picture album” filled with truths about God: His faithfulness in keeping His promises; His sovereign providence over all things; His glorious deeds and the wonders He has done; a step-by-step presentation of the Gospel; a child-friendly explanation of the essential doctrines of the Christian life; and on and on.
We are excited to introduce some new and concise resources for your ministry leaders and volunteers: Truth78’s Core Training Series. We know that establishing a God-centered, Bible-saturated, Christ-exalting, Gospel-focused, Spirit-dependent classroom environment can seem like a daunting task. Each year brings new challenges in recruiting, equipping, and training ministry volunteers. Some leaders and volunteers are fully acquainted with the Truth78 curricula, having used it for many years. But some, especially those newer to our curriculum, would definitely benefit from some basic go-to help for understanding and using our curriculum.
A new Sunday school year is upon us and ministry leaders and volunteers are busy planning, preparing, and setting classroom schedules. There are so many options for filling up classroom time: hands-on activities, crafts, and games; birthday celebrations; singing and worship; prayer; missions focus; Bible memory work, time to simply hang-out, etc. All good and compelling things. But before you finalize your classroom schedule, consider these words from John Piper in “A Compelling Reason for Rigorous Training of the Mind”:
I was reading and meditating on the book of Hebrews recently, when it hit me forcefully that a basic and compelling reason for education — the rigorous training of the mind — is so that a person can read the Bible with understanding. …
The issue of earning a living is not nearly so important as whether the next generation has direct access to the meaning of the Word of God. We need an education that puts the highest premium under God on knowing the meaning of God’s Book, and growing in the abilities that will unlock its riches for a lifetime. … Lord, let us not fail the next generation!
School supplies are everywhere these days. Most schools give parents lists — sometimes really long ones! — of supplies their children will need for the first day of school. As a longtime Sunday school teacher, I would like to give parents a list for their children’s Sunday school class. You’ll be very happy to know that there is only one item on that list: a Bible. Not a storybook Bible. Not a New Testament and Psalms. The full Scriptures, Old and New Testaments.
Earlier this year, controversy swirled around pastor Andy Stanley when he said in a sermon that Christians should "unhitch" their faith from the Old Testament. In a podcast interview with Jonathan Merritt last week, he tried to clarify what he meant by expanding on his earlier comments. He said, “I am convinced for the sake of this generation and the next generation, we have to rethink our apologetic as Christians, and the less we depend on the Old Testament to prop up our New Testament faith the better because of where we are in [the] culture.”
But we see in Psalm 78 precisely the opposite:
(with Jill Nelson) The first time I heard our young grade school-aged sons say they spent some of the Sunday school hour doing “sword drills,” I wondered if maybe they’d had a guest speaker from the Army. I’m only half kidding. Not having grown up in churches that had Sunday school, I had to ask them what they meant by the term. They explained that the teacher would announce an “address” (chapter and verse) for a Bible passage, and then all the kids would hold their closed Bibles over their heads, and once the teacher said “Go!”, they’d race to see who could find it first.
Late summer is a busy time for children’s and youth ministry as church staff and volunteers gear up for the beginning of a new school year. And, increasingly, there are new and exciting resource options out there to consider—resources that claim to engage students in ways that are “relevant” to their particular age group, along with teaching methods and class resources that will keep students eagerly coming back week after week. There’s nothing wrong with that, necessarily.
How are you praying for the next generation?
Over the past several months we are concentrating our prayers on the larger purposes of God for our children, our grandchildren, the children in our church, and the children we have the opportunity to teach--the kind of prayers that we are confident align with the will of God and can be assured of His answers. For example, right now, the church where I serve needs about 90 more workers to volunteer in the next two weeks. Certainly we should not hesitate to ask God for those 90 workers, but we want to concentrate our prayers on larger purposes for which those workers are needed. The challenge for us has been to “seek first” these larger purposes for our children and trust God that all the other things (like the 90 workers) will be provided.
Much has been said in recent years about teaching the Old Testament from a distinctly Christian perspective — seeing Jesus and the Gospel in all of Scripture. But in this video, John Piper raises an important concern about turning this perspective into a type of simplistic interpretative formula. He says,
… the danger in making a beeline to the cross too quickly and too methodically and regularly is, number one, it'll start to sound artificial. It'll start to sound monotonous. It'll start to be fanciful, because you'll come up with really clever ways of doing things that aren't really there and it'll keep you from seeing important things that are there.