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!

Email this to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+

Looking for Christmas Curriculum?

 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21

Christmas is about Jesus, the One sent by the Father to save us from our sins. It is critical that our children learn the truth about Christmas. Christmas is a time of joy, of celebration, of hope. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with our kids.

If you are looking for fun, energetic, joyful Christmas curriculum that focuses on sharing the gospel with your kids, check out “The Gift of Advent” from the Go-Fish Guys.

The Go-Fish Guys have made a name for themselves in children’s ministry circles for producing high-quality, fun, exciting, gospel-focused children’s music and now curriculum.

This video is a brief description of their brand-new Christmas curriculum.

This video is one of the songs included in the curriculum which underscores the focus on gospel truth.

For more information check out go-fish resources.

Let’s celebrate with our kids this Christmas the awesome, joyful truth that Jesus came to rescue us!

Email this to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+

Why VBS Should be Evangelistic!

My dad’s a pastor. He’s been a pastor for more than 35 years. There are a number of things that characterize my Dad. If you ask people, the first thing they will probably mention is his laugh. My dad laughs a lot and it’s infectious!

My dad also shares the gospel every chance he gets. He shares the gospel at weddings and funerals. He shares the gospel in hospital rooms and coffee shops. He shared the gospel recently more than once at our 100th years in Canada family reunion. He was asked to put together a hymn book of our pioneering ancestor’s favorite hymns and in the introduction he shared the gospel.

If I have learned anything from my Dad it’s this: Share the gospel. Love people, listen to people, serve people, but don’t waste opportunities to share the gospel because they might not come around again.

There are many reasons to hold a VBS program at your church, but I believe that the first and foremost reason should be because it’s an opportunity to share the gospel with the kids in your community.

There are children that come to VBS that have never stepped into a church before. There are kids who have attended church their whole life. There are also kids who come from other churches!

All of these children need to hear about the God who created them and loves them; who sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross, taking the punishment for their sin so that they can be forgiven and become children of God.

VBS is an opportunity to share the wonderful gospel with the children in your community – a chance that you may not get again. Don’t waste it.

Email this to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+

Recommended Resources for Helping Kids Understand the Gospel

1. Helping Children to Understand the Gospel – Children Desiring God

This resource is written in 3 parts. Parts 1 &2 are about preparing children for the gospel and presenting the gospel to children. Part 3 is 10 essential truths of the gospel. I like how part 3 is laid out. The key point is clearly stated, scripture is listed, a kid-friendly explanation is offered, and then various illustrations are provided.

“God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved.”

I love this statement and use it often when is share the gospel with kids. It is short and easy to remember and full of hope!

2. Big Truths for Young Hearts – Bruce A. Ware

Bruce Ware is a professor of theology. Big Truths for Young Hearts is his effort to explain big theological truths to children. This is a great resource!

This book is more than a resource for helping kids understand the gospel. But there is great stuff in it to help you share the gospel with kids. Ware has a great way of explain deep theological truths in ways that kids can understand.

“To believe in Christ (or trust in Christ or put faith in Christ) means to count or rely completely on what Christ has done in his death and resurrection for my sin, so that my hope of being right in God’s sight is all because of Christ and has nothing to do with any good thing that I might ever say or do.”

3. Leading Kids to Jesus – David Staal

This book is about having one-on-one conversations about faith. The author does a good job of helping the reader to understand the dynamics of communicating with kids. I also like the focus given on helping the reader figure out how to share their own testimony with kids.  Another very good section of this book deals with questions kids might ask and how to answer them.

“Even though we deliver the message, true comprehension and conviction comes solely as a result of the Holy Spirit. To that end, no matter how well we word the gospel, different kids will require different quantities of time to fully understand. Give them as much as they need.”

4. Gospel Flipper Flapper – Child Evangelism Fellowship

I love using this tool to share the gospel with kids! One year at VBS we passed them out to 130 kids and together we flipped and flapped and the kids were actively engaged as the gospel message was told.

This tool uses colors and symbols as a starting point for sharing the gospel. You flip the flaps to reveal a yellow circle (God who is holy), a black heart (all have sinned), a red cross (Jesus died for our sins); and a white heart (salvation is offered to those who repent and believe). The kids love figuring out how to flip the flaps! Have fun with this inexpensive yet effective tool for sharing the gospel with kids!

5. In Search of the Greatest Treasure Comic Booklet – Campus Crusade for Christ

I have used this comic booklet for a few years now. The illustrations are great and the gospel is clearly presented with a focus on Jesus. For VBS, our counselor s use this as they talk one-on-one with kids and we give them out to all who attend.

 

There are a lot of resources out there. These are just 5 that I have used extensively and would highly recommend.

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

Email this to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+

7 Tips for Sharing the Gospel with Kids

Sharing the gospel with kids is a huge privilege!! It is also a heavy responsibility. Here are 7 tips for sharing the gospel with kids:

1. Back up what you say with Scripture

Kids need to know that you are telling them what the Bible says and not just what you think about the gospel. For every key point that you share with kids, back it up with Scripture. When you tell kids that God is holy, read from the Bible that God is holy. When you tell kids that we are sinners, read from the Bible where it says that all have sinned.

2. Use a Bible and have kids use their Bibles

This tip goes hand in hand with tip #1. Use a Bible when you share the gospel with kids. Hold it, open it, and read from it. The Bible is God’s Word and therefore wholly trustworthy and true. So use it! Encourage kids to use their own Bibles as well. It’s okay if different translations are used. Get the kids into their Bibles, checking that what you are saying is what the Bible says. Have Bibles available to give away to children who don’t have one.

3. Don’t get caught up in the numbers game

It can be too easy to get caught up in how many kids are being saved. Don’t let this distract you. Remember, God is the one who saves. God will do his work. Each child is special and there is cause for rejoicing for each one who chooses to follow Jesus. Celebrate each child saved and give God the glory!

4. Highlight the key points

There are some heavy theological truths in the gospel message. It can become too easy to get bogged down in explanations. Highlight the key point you want the kids to learn. This will help you not to get distracted. Teach one thing; even when sharing the gospel!

5. Kids, especially young ones, are literal

Be careful with the words and phrases you use when sharing the gospel with kids. Kids, especially young ones will take what you say literally. If you tell kids they can ask Jesus into their heart, the young ones will literally think Jesus is somehow entering their actual hearts. I remember a parent once telling me about her daughter who was about 3 or 4. She came in the room crying and very upset. Her mom asked her what happened and the daughter replied that she fell down on her chest. It didn’t seem that she was hurt too badly, so her Mom asked her why she was so upset. The girl replied, “I think I may have hurt Jesus!”

Older kids may not think so literally anymore, but such phrasing can distract them. They may lose focus and start thinking about how it might actually work to have Jesus come into their hearts.
Use words and phrases that make sense to kids. Teach them Biblical words and theological words, but explain them well.

6. Give them time

Kids may need to hear the truth of the gospel many times before they are ready to give their lives to Jesus. That’s okay. As they grow they can better understand the truths of the gospel. Also, kids need time to realize that the gospel message is personal. Kids are in a stage of constant learning. The truth of the gospel is information for them to learn and absorb. It may take them some time to realize that our holy Creator-King loves them; that they have sinned and are in desperate need of saving; that Jesus came to save them; that by dying on the cross, He took the punishment for their sins.

Don’t rush kids. Give them time.

7. Pray

Pray before you present the gospel to kids. Pray that God would soften their hearts and prepare them to accept the truth of the gospel. Pray as you present the gospel. Pray that you would speak only truth and pray that the kids listening will accept it. Pray after you present the gospel. Pray that the truth of God’s Word would sink deep into the hearts of the children who heard it. Pray for true repentance. Pray for transformation. Pray for lives to be saved.

It’s a great privilege to share the gospel with kids. Don’t dumb it down for them. Give them the whole truth, explaining new or difficult concepts in ways that kids will understand.

I love this quote of Tedd & Margy Tripp from their book Instructing a Child’s Heart,

“We give our children big truths they will grow into rather than light explanations they will grow out of.”

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

Email this to someonePin on PinterestTweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on StumbleUponShare on Google+
1 2 3 4