Book Review – Rock-Solid Kids by Larry Fowler

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. Matthew 7:24

What attracted me most to this book was the tag line on the front cover – “Giving Children a Biblical Foundation for Life.”childrens-ministry-rock-solid-kids

Biblical literacy is very important to me so I was interested to see what the book had to say about it.

In the introduction, Larry Fowler outlines the purpose and format of his 142 page book.  “Those involved in children’s ministry must also build on the right foundation—and that is the primary concern of this book…Each chapter of this book starts with a Scripture passage—a ‘rock’ for your foundation. The Scripture passage specifically refers to children or ministering to them. Each chapter contains a thorough discussion of implications and applications. Together, the eight core chapters will give you eight ‘foundational rocks’—fundamental principles from God’s Word upon which to build your ministry.”

Larry Fowler discusses the importance of children’s ministry, the responsibility for children’s ministry, the content of children’s ministry, and the pattern for children’s ministry. He highlights a warning about ministering to children, allowing children to serve, the message for children’s ministry, and the opportunity of children’s ministry.

I loved this book! I would highly recommend it.

In his chapter on the content of children’s ministry, Fowler discusses the battle for balance. He discusses Biblical truth and application. I agree that a balance between these is really important. Start with Scripture and follow with application. He talked about Biblical truth, application, and relevance. He defined relevance as being how closely the biblical truth applies to a person’s life.

Although I agree wholeheartedly with the need for balance in our teaching, I did not agree with what he said about relevance. I think we need to be very careful about how we discuss relevance in relation to the Word of God. The Word of God is always relevant; we just may not see it. “The teacher’s task in application is to recognize and communicate Scripture’s relevance, rather than to make it relevant.” (Walton, Bailey, and Williford; Teach the Text)

I wonder if I just misunderstood Fowler’s use of the term relevant in this situation. I do agree with his ‘foundation rock’ for this chapter: “Scripture is the foundation of our content; relevance follows.”

My favorite chapter was chapter 7—A Clear Focus: The Message for Children’s Ministry.

“From infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:15

Fowler clearly defines what the gospel is and how we should share it with children. I appreciated his discussion about how we call children to respond to the gospel. “If we understand what the Bible says, then we won’t need a formula. Children, and everyone else, are saved by God’s grace through faith.

He goes on to say, “As presenters of the gospel message, we must focus children’s faith on the person and the work of Christ on the cross. Faith must be in Jesus’ death and resurrection…as presenters we have a responsibility to be as clear and biblically accurate as possible…So what do we do? Repeat the gospel over and over again. Reinforce it regularly. Let your awe of it show through.”

Building a children’s ministry on the foundation of God’s Word is vital and it can be done, whether you are starting from scratch or have been involved in children’s ministry for years. I recommend this book for parents, children’s ministry leaders and volunteers. I was encouraged when I read it and I think you will be too!

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Book Review – Everyday Talk by John A. Younts

Words matter. The things we say in unguarded moments, the words we say in love, in frustration, at the breakfast table, and before bed reveal our attitudes, our worldview, our theology, our beliefs. This is everyday talk.

Everyday Talk is a parenting book about talking freely and naturally about God with your children. It was written to encourage parents to recognize the influence their everyday talk has on their children and to accept the responsibility they have to use that influence to tell their children about God and His ways.

“Along the path of everyday life, take the opportunity that God gives you to instruct your children.” (pg. 118)

The author uses Deuteronomy 6:4-7 as the key Scripture passage for his book.

“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

The author states in the first chapter,

“The principle of Deuteronomy 6 is that your everyday comments are the ones that teach your children most profoundly about your view of God. Your interaction with God in everyday, ordinary, non-church life is the most powerful tool of influence that you have with your children. It communicates what you really believe.” (pgs 16-17)

This book is full of Biblical, practical advice for parents who want to talk to their kids about God. Each chapter has some questions at the end that encourage parents to think about the content of that chapter as it relates specifically to their kids, and practical ideas to implement the main idea of that chapter.

There are chapters on sharing the gospel with your kids; listening to your kids; giving directions; preparing your children to leave home; and talking with your children about the deceptiveness of the world, sex, and music.

An on-going issue for parents is discipline and obedience. In chapter 6, called “Big Sins, Little Sins” the author discusses the importance of consistent discipline. He talks about the tendency we have of categorizing sin. There are things we consider big sins and things we consider little sins. It is tempting to let little sins slide, but when we do, our children are being taught that obedience is not a requirement. Discipline for “big sin” and overlooking “little sins” teaches children to obey only when it seems necessary to them; it’s okay to disobey if they don’t get caught. (pg. 72)

The issue of obedience doesn’t end with parents. Ultimately we are to love and obey God.

“You cannot discipline properly until you see yourself as God’s agent to your kids…Your focus in discipline is to hold your children accountable to God.” (pg. 67)

“God wants to be loved & obeyed at all times, not just when the consequences seem great to us. You must discipline your children every time they are disobedient.” (pg. 69)

Consistent discipline is important because it gets to the heart of the issue. It helps our children understand they we obey because it is honoring to God, not simply to avoid the consequences of disobedience. Parents need to look at what is influencing their actions when they discipline and children need to look at what is influencing their actions when they choose to obey or disobey. It is the consequences or is it the best way to love God.

“Hold out for (your children) the goal of a heart that loves Christ more than the pleasures and good consequences of this life. Ask God to help your everyday talk to reflect love of God more than love of good consequences.” (pg. 77)

 

“The message of this book is that the most profound teaching your child receives is the everyday talk from your mouth.” (pg. 95) This book is an encouraging, practical, conversational appeal to parents.

“Parents, your children should hear God’s truth from your lips…They must hear God’s truth in your everyday talk. You must look out the window to your world and talk to your children about the truth of God in relation to what you see.” (pg. 120)

Children’s ministry volunteers: If parents in your ministry are looking for a practical book on Biblical parenting and talking naturally with their children about God, I recommend Everyday Talk.

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