At Truth78, we talk a lot about the need for “biblical literacy” for the next generation. But biblical literacy is more than just acquainting children with as much of the biblical text as possible. Yes, reading through the entire Bible by the time they reach adulthood is a worthy goal for our children. But we must also train them in how to study the Bible. What’s the difference, and why is it important?
Joe Carter has provided a really helpful article on this topic.
…while encouraging our children to read the Bible and teaching them how to do it well are necessary tasks, they are not sufficient for spiritual development. We also need to teach them how to study Scripture so that they “may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).
…Two key differences between reading and study are pacing and focus. When we read the Bi
Some of the most unusual church experiences I’ve ever encountered took place within the context of youth ministry—wacky games and activities, students playing foosball during the Sunday school hour, edgy (but shallow) teaching, sleep-deprived retreats (with no parents allowed), and more. All done in the hope of being “relevant and fun” so youth would want to keep coming back. Yes, some students kept coming back, but many grew up and left the church—untouched by true saving faith and maturity—when the fun stopped.
That is why I found a recent article by 19-year-old Sara Barratt so refreshing. Here is her observation:
Instead of undiluted biblical truths and concrete theology, many [teens] are fed a watered-down message. They’re entertained at youth group and isolated from older, wiser Christ-followers. They’re drawn in with pizza parties, games, and programs, but leave with the burning issues of their hearts still unanswered.
She points to four core topics teens need to hear:
How can we help children know and love God?
In a seminar at the 2013 national conference, ”Teaching Children to Know and Love God by Knowing and Loving Theology,” Dr. Bruce Ware explained the importance of understanding the “progression of truth” as we teach our children. He lays out the progression as follows:
Head → Heart → Hands → Habitat
or another way of stating it…
Knowing → Loving → Living → Transforming
Why start with the “head”? Why not jump right to their heart? Dr. Ware explains,
The mind’s understanding (knowing the truth) is necessary for the heart’s engagement with that truth (loving the truth). Knowing the truth provides the possibility and basis for loving the truth.
With children, the first priority in what we can assis
The end of the school year is a good time to look back and evaluate the joys, surprises, challenges, and shortcomings of your classroom experience with children and youth. If at all possible, before your team heads out for summer vacation, set aside an hour or so to gather together and evaluate the year. Consider using the following questions as discussion starters, or email them as a survey:
Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Both lend themselves to all sorts of exciting possibilities for the Sunday school classroom — special colorful crafts and activities, joyful and boisterous songs, and an enthusiastic presentation of the biblical narratives. Children love it and churches often go to great lengths to highlight these celebrations in the classroom.
But what about the biblical narrative of the cross? Where does it fit in between these back-to-back Sunday celebrations?
This may seem like a sensationalized question, but I would ask you to read on before simply dismissing the question out-of-hand. This came to mind after reading the 9Marks answer to the question: “What are the most dangerous threats to the gospel today?” What is interesting about the answers is how there is often a subtle version of these dangers lurking in children’s Sunday school classrooms—even in many solid, Gospel-exalting churches.
God is love. Maybe more than any other statement this has been used to identify God's basic essence. But if we consider God's love apart from the totality of God's nature, our understanding of God will be dangerously skewed. So what does God mean when He says that He is love?
This week, I have a challenge for us, as we minister to children and youth in our classrooms, or as we parent or grandparent. Let’s look at the young faces in our care and imagine them in the midst of this scene in the future:
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done.—Revelation 20:12-13
Imagine a new child coming to your fourth-grade Sunday school class. He has a motorized wheelchair. He cannot speak intelligible words. His eyes, when open, seem to wander aimlessly. But, every once and a while, he seems to focus on a face or a sound. He smiles. Sometimes he lets out an excited “Ha, ha!”
Are you and the children of your class ready to warmly welcome him? Are you prepared to include him, as much as possible, in various classroom activities? Do you see this child as a blessing from the Lord? Do you delight in the opportunity to serve him? Do you look forward to how this child can help you and your class become more like Christ?
Children’s and youth ministry can be characterized by many different kinds of activities and programs. It’s often tempting to focus much of our weekly planning on things like being sufficiently staffed, offering fun activities, and providing child-friendly worship music, a Bible lesson, and a snack. All of these things are good—in right measure.