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!

Trust in the Lord

Isaiah 26:3-4 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.

Children's Ministry Rock EternalThe word steadfast is not one we use very often. It means firm; firmly established; firmly fixed in place; unwavering.

When I was a kid we lived at the bottom of a hill. I used to love taking my bike up that hill with my friends to play. One day, we were heading home, cycling down that grassy hill. Suddenly, my bike hit a large rock that was hidden by the grass and I went sailing over the handlebars. That rock, however, didn’t move – it was firmly fixed in place; it was steadfast.

This verse tells us that God gives peace to those who are steadfast because they trust in Him.

We trust God and He gives us peace. Not only does God give us peace, He keeps us in perfect peace. The peace from God is not something that comes and goes, He keeps us in perfect peace.

So, what do we do, people of God? Trust in the Lord forever, because the Lord is the Rock eternal.

Be steadfast in your trust in God. He is worthy of your trust. He is the Rock – firm, dependable, unmovable.

In your service as volunteers depend on God for the ability to teach these children. Depend on God for strength and courage and energy and wisdom. Trust God to give you love for the kids in your care and wisdom to answer tough questions; and grace to deal with those difficult kids.

Children’s ministry is rarely described as a peaceful ministry. It’s loud and chaotic and tough and awesome! But God promises peace to His people in the midst of everything when we trust Him.

Be Amazed Once Again

And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 1 John 4:14

The Gospel is awesome! Let me encourage you to consider the wonderful truth of the gospel and be amazed once again at the love of the Father in sending His Son to be the Savior of the world. As you listen to this song, remember Jesus and His death on the cross that brought you life.

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

Do Not Be Anxious

childrens ministry don't be anxiousI have found that there are plenty of things to be anxious about when you’re involved in children’s ministry.

There is the constant recruiting – will there be enough teachers for Sunday School? Will we be able to run our club program this year? Do we have enough subs in case teachers or volunteers get ill?

There is the worry about discipline issues and whether the kids are really learning and falling in love with Jesus.

It can be too easy to feel anxious about whether your volunteers are getting the training and support they need. Or if you are a volunteer, you may be feeling anxious that you are not skilled enough for the role you are playing.

Then there is the mess of relationships. Are you able to help, support, and encourage those volunteers in your children’s ministry or your fellow volunteers? What about when something happens with a  child in your class or their family?

Being involved in children’s ministry can cause a lot of anxiety. So, let me encourage you.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

The Bible has encouragement for those of us feeling anxious and maybe even overwhelmed. And an action plan.

First, don’t be anxious.

Instead pray about everything with a thankful heart. Bringing everything that is causing anxiety to the throne of God means that you are trusting Him to handle the things that you can’t. And doing it with thanksgiving shows a faith that He can and will listen to you.

As we bring our requests to God with thankful hearts, the peace of God takes over. Peace that doesn’t make any sense to us. How we can have peace in the situation we are currently facing is baffling. But that’s why Paul writes that this peace from God transcends all understanding. To transcend means to go beyond or exceed. This peace from God goes beyond our understanding and it will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

The peace of God will guard our hearts and our minds from overwhelming anxiety.

There is a 3 step action plan in these verses. 1. Don’t be anxious. 2. Pray about everything with thanksgiving. 3. Accept the peace of God that exceeds our understanding and let it guard your heart and your mind.

So we have a choice. We can live lives filled with anxiety or we can choose to take everything to God and let His peace which goes beyond our understanding to fill us and guard us.

You’re Not Just a Babysitter – I Promise!

Sometimes volunteering in children’s ministry can feel like you’re just babysitting. You’re feeding babies and changing diapers. You’re serving snacks, taking toddlers to the bathroom, washing hands, smoothing over fights and hurt feelings. You’re dealing with behavior issues and bored kids.

Let me encourage you. Children’s ministry is so much more than babysitting.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

What is a disciple?

discipleA disciple is one who follows the teachings of another. So in this case a disciple is one who follows Jesus; one who has trusted Jesus for salvation; who has made Jesus their Lord and Savior.

So, first Jesus says to go. He says make disciples of all nations. For those of us in children’s ministry, we need to start where we are. There are children in our church and in our community who need to hear of the love of God and the gift of salvation that is offered to them.

And then, teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded them. We continue to love and support these disciples as we teach them; encouraging them to grow in their relationship with Jesus.

Children’s ministry is a disciple-making ministry.

Think about the programs & ministries offered at your church. Think of them in light of making disciples. Those outreach ministries where you build relationships with the kids in the community – those are going & making disciples ministries. Those evangelistic ministries, like VBS, those are going & making disciples ministries. Mid-week clubs, Sunday School – those are teaching them ministries; making disciples and helping them to grow.

Children’s ministry is about making disciples.

The kids in your care are people that God loves and Jesus died for. You have the opportunity to share God’s love with them, share the good news of the gospel with them, make disciples, and continue to teach them all the things Jesus said.

So, be encouraged. You are part of an important ministry, obeying Jesus’ command to go and make disciples.

One way to find encouragement is to watch for those moments where your kids are growing in their understanding and their faith. Be encouraged yourself when you find those moments and share them with other children’s ministry volunteers. They are encouraging reminders that we are making disciples.

Here are some examples of what I mean:

Once I was teaching a class of preschoolers and I noticed a boy was intently working with play dough. I asked him, “What are you making?” He said, “I’m going to make God.” “What does He look like?” I asked. “We He has 3 ears and lots of mouths.” “Why does He have 3 ears?” “So He can hear everyone.” “Why does He have lots of mouths?” “So He can talk to everyone.” What a glimpse into that 4 yr. olds understanding of who God is. God is One who hears us and speaks to us. Wow!

During a preschool class – the story had been about David’s sin and his repentance before God. The teacher asked the question, “Why does David sin?” A student’s hand goes up, “Because he didn’t have a perfect heart like God does.”

Watch for moments like these when you are volunteering with children. Be encouraged that God is at work in the lives of the kids you serve. And then share those moments with other children’s ministry volunteers in your church.

Children’s ministry is so much more than babysitting. We are privileged to be involved in disciple-making ministry. And we are never alone! Jesus promised to be with us even to the very end.

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