children

Why Christmas? New Devotional for Families

Are you looking for a simple devotional to do with your family in the weeks leading up to Christmas?  Barbara Reaoch's Why Christmas? is a helpful devotional to point your kids to Jesus with colorful illustrations and good discussion questions. I just started reading it with my 3 kids (ages 10, 8, and 4) and all of them really like it.  The devotional also comes with Christmas carols that correspond with each of the stories.  It's a fun way to end the night before tucking them into bed!

I also recommend Why Easter? by the same author.

Why Easter? A New Easter Devotional for Families

I'm excited about Why Easter? a new resource that helps children understand and celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  Tedd Tripp, author of Shepherding a Child's Heart, gives his endorsement:

Since most Evangelicals do not follow the church calendar, Easter often catches us unprepared.  Barbara Reaoch comes to our aid with a four-week series of devotions for parents and children that will increase our joy at Easter.  These devotionals are well-crafted, theologically sound, and doable.  They could be used year after year as a wonderful family tradition.

You can click here to download a sample of the first 3 lessons.

12 Teachable Moments

7 Financial Principles for Kids

New ESV GROW! Bible for Kids

ESV Grow! BibleI just got a copy of the ESV GROW! Bible from a friend of mine. I love it!  It's designed specifically for children ages 8-12. One of the coolest features is the "Cross Connections" boxes that are scattered throughout to help kids understand the centrality of the cross in all the Scriptures. Another feature called "4U" is great for explaining the text and how to apply it to a child's life.   I can't wait to read it with my 7 and 9 year old girls.

ESV Grow! Bible from Crossway on Vimeo.

Click on the Bible to the right to view the text.

Involve Your Kids in Ministry to Elderly

Brian Croft gives a good reminder for pastors to take their children with them when they visit the elderly. He brings out three points:

  1. Never underestimate the impact of children in the lives of others.
  2. It is good for a child to learn to love, grieve, and let go.
  3. It will cause the young and old to see the value of the other.

Read the whole thing.

Can We Give Them Too Much Grace?

John Bird with an interesting critique of Elyse Fitzpatrick's new book on parenting, Give Them Grace:

If applying the gospel can be overdone, these authors do it proudly: “We’ve encouraged you to dazzle [your children] with the message of Christ’s love and welcome, and then when you think that surely they must be tiring of it, go back and drench them with it again.”

The only problem with this is that when we apply the gospel to every event in life, and especially when we use it to correct, children will tire of it. Not every moment needs to be a “teachable moment.” Do we need to bring up Jesus’ agony on the cross every time our child acts like a child?

The authors give an example of how we might apply the gospel to a child who pouts after losing a baseball game: “Yes, losing is difficult….Jesus Christ understands losing because he lost relationship with his father on the cross….He’s using this suffering in your life to make us both look up and see his love.”

Besides the superficial view of suffering in the above quote, this loose way of applying the gospel, especially when often repeated, takes the power out of the message and can weary the children. Something sadder than a child growing up never hearing the good news is a child who grows up hoping to never hear it again.

I'm curious.  What are your thoughts?  I encourage you to read Bird's entire review of the book as he ends on this note:

Still, the most important things to be said about this book are that it leaves room for failure, emphasizes the superiority of the gospel over the law, and is primarily about imperfect parents glorifying a perfect God (rather than themselves or their children). These things put Give Them Grace above many other Christian parenting books.

An Unexpected Tool in Sermon-Planning

Brian Croft with a great piece of advice for every pastor:

Pastors use a variety of tools to prepare their sermons.  Commentaries, Greek/Hebrew texts, language lexicons, biblical theology books and other sermons on a passage all aid the preacher in his preparation for his weekly sermon.  Here is a tool that will probably not be taught in a seminary class, but has been one of my most unexpected, yet helpful tools for my weekly sermon prep.  Here it is:

“The insights of my children on the passage I am preaching as I read it with them throughout the week”

(Read the rest ...)

10 Tips for Teaching Kids About God

Stephanie Carmichael, writing for Matthias Media: Teach all the time: Young children live in the moment. Help them to learn in the moment by making the most of opportunities as they arise. Talk about God in the day-to-day things you are doing.

Teach at a special time: Try to set aside a special time to read about God. Prepare for this time. If you are going to read the Bible, think about what you will read and how to simplify and explain it.

Questions and answers: Listen to your children's questions, and give quality time to answering them. But also ask them questions about what you've been trying to teach to check they have understood.

Teach through your life: You are a living example (or visual aid) of someone who loves God. Set a faithful example of dependence on God and let them see you reading the Bible for yourself.

Be prayerful: Like adults, children need God's help to grow in Christ and they can learn to pray. So pray for them and pray simple prayers with them (e.g. "sorry God that we...", "thank you God for...", "God, please help...").

Be simple: Young children are not abstract thinkers so be literal and concrete. Use real examples where possible (eg. God made this flower). Use simple vocabulary that they can understand. Avoid jargon.

Be specific: Move from the specific (God loves Ben) to the general (God loves everyone). Use lots of familiar examples so that they can understand.

Repeat and repeat again: You might get tired of saying it, but remember young children thrive on repetition.

Be thankful: Approach God with thankfulness. Model to your children how we can thank God in various situations and what we can thank God for.

Be visual: Young children learn through their eyes as well as their ears. Use pictures, visual aids, picture books etc.

**MORE teaching tips for those who teach preschool or any age

New Website: Divorce Ministry for Kids

Divorce affects the lives of so many children in our society today, but how can the church respond?  I appreciate Wayne Stocks and his heart to help hurting children and their families through his new website called divorceministry4kids.com. Here's why he started the website:

Since 1972, over 1,000,000 kids each year have joined the ranks of the children of divorce. These kids face struggles which are very unique and very real. And, unfortunately, many of our churches are ill-equipped to deal with the special needs of this growing segment of their congregations. Whether they worry about addressing the issue of divorce for fear of alienating their congregations, pretend that the problem simply does not exist, or simply fail to recognize the magnitude of the issue, many churches are ill-equipped to deal with, or minister to, children of divorce.

Read the rest ... and check out Tony Kummer's podcast with Wayne about the website

Cool Resource for Kids Ministry!

Close this windowI've mentioned God's Kid Worship CD's before, but they keep coming out with more and more cool resources for kids!

Check out the description of the Big Box of Countdowns below:

Each DVD contains twelve, 5-minute long video countdowns; all playable on a standard video DVD player or with computer presentation programs. Each DVD includes 6 high energy video countdowns and 6 calm countdowns.

High Energy Countdowns - 5 minutes long, high-energy and filled with fun! The infectious music tracks, eye-catching backgrounds and animated graphics will get any group of kids ready for what's coming next. Most feature animated characters, complete with hilarious and attention-getting comments! Characters pop on-screen and speak at 4:00, 3:00, 2:00, 1:00 and the final 30 seconds, bringing everybody's attention up front.

Calm Countdowns - 5 minutes long, low-energy video countdowns filled with warm, images and calming music. Use these as a calm way to focus and prepare for an event; or as a timer for any quiet activity, such as study, reading, or simply rest & reflection.

I highly recommend these Big Box of Countdowns as a resource for kids and students of all ages! Everybody will love the fun characters as they count down to what's coming up next!

Big Picture Storybook Bible eBook

Crossway Blog:

We’re proud to announce the release of The Big Picture Story Bible eBook with Read-Aloud (available only in itunes/ibookstore).

Originally released in 2004, The Big Picture Story Bible by David R. Helm and Gail Shoonmaker received such positive feedback that a companion audio CD was released in 2010. Now the two have been joined! When purchased for the iPad in the itunes/iBookstore readers can follow along as the book reads itself!

By synchronizing the pre-recorded audio track with the written text of our book, God’s big picture is literally illuminated as the words light up in sync with the narrator’s voice. We know that your children will love this easy and fun new way to read a classic book on your family’s iPad. Click here to download your copy today ($12.99).

Here’s how it works...

Read the rest.

(HT: Z)

How Do We Reach Over-Churched Kids? (Video)

Tony Kummer, from ministry-to-children.com, recently asked me to respond to the problem of over-churched kids. By over-churched kids, he means kids with too much religion and not enough actual interaction with Jesus. This is a relevant issue for pastors' kids. My short answer is that we must model the gospel to our kids and get them on mission early as a church family.

  • Check out a few other video responses to the question here
  • Read Tony's 9 Strategies for Reaching Over-Churched Kids

Follow Up Post to Heaven is for Real

I deleted my initial post on the book, Heaven is for Real, because I felt it was more appropriate for my wife to give her input since she actually read it. After reading Greg Thornbury's post on the book, she had a different take so I encouraged her to share her thoughts below:

When given a copy of this book, I was prepared to have several critiques, but the opposite happened.  I felt the author did an excellent job of telling his son's story without appearing to be exploiting him for money or fame.  While still not 100% convinced that Colton (the little boy from the story) went to heaven and back, I am convinced that this family loves Jesus and wants others to know Him.  Upon finishing the book, I recommended it to both believers and unbelievers (who I knew I would follow up with). I think it's a great conversation starter and a pointer to the Bible, not a detractor from it.  I wouldn't build my theology on it, but I thought about heaven more.  I know of another person who searched out Scripture passages on heaven after reading this book.  And I don’t think that the high volume of sales says anything other than we live in a fallen world.  People are curious.  Most people are looking for hope and a quick fix.  They want to hear heaven is real, but most want it to be for everyone.  This book clearly states that it is for those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ. The Jesus Christ of the Bible to which this book points.

Seeds Scripture Memory Cards

If you're like me, you love the Seeds Family Worship CD's. Here's a simple idea for the summer. As you play the CD's in your home, your car, outside in the backyard, etc. why not challenge your whole family to memorize a few of them together. Seeds has provided these helpful memory cards that go along with each of the CD's.  So print them off, put them on your fridge, dinner table, bathroom mirror, etc. and memorize some verses as a family this summer! One more thing ... your kids can keep track of the ones they've memorized with this helpful checklist as well.