Guard Your Heart!

Princess Diana famously said, “Only do what your heart tells you.”

Follow Your heart

This sentiment is found in a lot of Disney movies. It’s part of popular culture. But is it good advice for our kids to follow?childrens-ministry-guard-your-heart

In one episode of Lizzie McGuire, Lizzie writes this in response to a dear Lizzie letter, “Dear Confused- I wish I could tell you what to do, but, I can’t. All I can say is, follow your heart. It’ll tell you what’s right.”

Society says, “Follow your heart.” Can we trust our hearts to tell us what is best for us? If we follow our heart, where will it lead?

Guard Your Heart

The Bible says, “Guard your heart.”

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Why do we need to guard our heart? The Bible gives us the answer:

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9

The heart lies. It is untrustworthy. We cannot trust our hearts. We are sinners.

So, who do we trust? We trust the One who is perfect and trustworthy.

As for God, His way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless; He shields all who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

We need to be teaching our kids that our hearts will not always tell us what is right. Our hearts are deceitful. We should not depend on our own understanding of things; rather we need to trust God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Instead of “Only do what your heart tells you,” we should be encouraging our kids to “only do what God tells you.” He is loving and good and worthy of our trust. He will guide us.

A New Heart

We also need to be teaching our kids that there is hope. Our hearts are deceitful and untrustworthy, but we have hope because God can give us a new heart.

I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 11:19

When we accept the gift of salvation, God makes us new! That means a new heart as well. This new heart is an undivided heart; a heart that loves God and desires to follow His ways.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word. I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:9-11

We need to teach our kids to guard their hearts – why they should guard their hearts and how they can guard their hearts.

One way we can guard our heart is to hide God’s Word in it. We need to be reading the Bible regularly, memorizing it, and talking with God in prayer.
Let’s encourage our kids to be hiding God’s Word in their heart through reading, studying, memorizing, and prayer!

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Is Your Sunday School Balanced?

Children's Ministry Balanced Sunday SchoolWhen I was a kid I loved playing at the park! If I could find a friend I loved to play a particular game – trying to balance on the teeter totter. It was hard work to find that sweet spot! But it was worth it when you were balanced up in the air.

There is a sweet spot in Sunday School too. It is when you find the right balance between the Bible lesson and the application.
Start with Scripture. Use every minute you have to teach your class the truth about our great God!

In Larry Fowler’s book, “Rock-Solid Kids,” he spent a chapter talking about the content of our children’s ministries. He said that the content of what we teach needs to be God’s Word. “That’s the foundation for application. The Word of God has to come first. Why do we start there? Because the word themselves are truth. Because they are from God…Start with Scripture. We must not only teach children about the Bible and how to apply the Bible, but we must also as first priority teach them the Bible.”

So, make sure your lessons are based on Scripture. Are you teaching kids the Bible? Kids need a solid foundation of Biblical teaching.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Next, we go to application. When you start with Scripture, you have something to talk about during application. During the lesson, the focus was on God’s Word. The application time is when the kids make the connection between God’s Word and their own lives. Your job is to connect Bible truth to a child’s life. Application time is for helping children to bridge the gap between Biblical knowledge and heart transformation. The goal is change. By the end you want the kids to respond to what they have learned by applying biblical truth to their everyday life.

How can a young person keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. Psalm 119:9-11

Here is why balance is so important. If a Sunday School class is just the Bible lesson, there is a chance that it may become a purely intellectual exercise; all about knowledge. If a Sunday School class is just application, then it may become good advice for living but no authority behind the suggestions.During Sunday School, we have the opportunity to dig deep into the Bible and learn about God and ourselves and living life as followers of Jesus.

Tony Kumner (of recently said, “Thinking about the REAL JESUS in the Gospels this morning and worried that we spend too little time walking with him in the Scriptures. Let’s pray and encourage one another in this essential calling – to know Jesus Christ in truth, rather than forming him to our own imagination.”
In children’s ministry we want to introduce kids to Jesus and help them to grow up in their faith.

So, start with Scripture. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself. A relationship with Him needs to be rooted in His Word. A relationship is current and active. To keep it that way we keep reading and studying the Word of God.

Strive for the right balance in your classroom of Scripture and application.

When Your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear Your name, LORD God Almighty. Jeremiah 15:16

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.

Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Following Jesus Part 2

Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit

“But the Father will send the Friend in my name to help you. The Friend is the Holy Spirit. He will teach you all things. He will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26

The Holy Spirit helps us grow to be more like Jesus!

Even though we have been forgiven for our sins, we still sin sometimes. We still make the wrong choices. Because we are following Jesus, doesn’t make us perfect.

We need help to choose to do right. We need help too to obey Jesus and live the way He wants us to. Once we become a follower of Jesus, we spend the rest of our lives growing and becoming more like Jesus. But we can’t do it on our own. We need help.

Jesus promised to help us. He promised to give us a Friend who would help us become more like Him.

Jesus made a promise. Even though He was leaving and going back to heaven, He was going to send a Friend who would help us. This Friend will teach us; this Friend will remind us of what Jesus said.

This friend is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is God. Remember, I said that there is 1 God, in 3 persons – God, the Father; God, the Son (that’s Jesus); and God, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit lives inside all believers, helping them to obey Jesus and helping them to become more and more like Jesus.

What was Jesus like? He was obedient, humble, faithful, kind, loving, compassionate, focused.

The Bible says that when we let the Holy Spirit work in our lives, we start to behave and act differently. When we let the Holy Spirit work in us, we become more loving, more joyful, more peaceful, and more patient. We become kinder. The result is goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control.

“But the fruit the Holy Spirit produces is love, joy and peace. It is being patient, kind and good. It is being faithful and gentle and having control of oneself.” Galatians 5:22-23

Followers of Jesus tell others about Jesus

“Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” 1 Peter 3:15

The bible tells us to always be ready to tell people about Jesus and how he saved us.

If people ask us about Jesus, we need to be ready to tell them all about Him. The only way we will be ready to do that is by reading our bibles and talking to Him everyday.

We need to be able to tell people that God is holy and can’t stand sin; that people are sinners and have broken God’s rules; that God decided the punishment for sin was death; that God made a way for sin to be punished and sinners to be saved; that Jesus was our substitute when He died on the cross; that Jesus took the punishment for our sins; that we need to repent and believe in Jesus.

Followers of Jesus follow Him forever

Jesus has promised that when you die He will bring you to heaven to live with God. That is eternal life – living forever with God!

“There are many rooms in my Father’s house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. If I go and do that, I will come back. And I will take you to be with me. Then you will also be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”  John 14:2-4

There is a cost to following Jesus, but God has promised a huge reward for everyone who trusts in Jesus – a reward that is so great and exciting that it is better than anything we can even imagine.

What is it? Eternal life! – living forever with God in heaven. Heaven is a real place where everyone who is trusting in Jesus will someday go to live. The Bible tells us a little of what heaven is like. In heaven there will be no sin, no more crying, or hurting or pain and no more death. But the best part of heaven is that Jesus will be there! We will finally get to see Jesus!


The last post in this series is a conclusion. I will share some tips for sharing the gospel with kids.

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

Sharing the Gospel with Kids – Talking about Following Jesus Part 1

“Christ died for everyone. He died so that those who live should not live for themselves anymore. They should live for Christ. He died for them and was raised again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15 (NIrV)

Salvation is a free gift offered to you by God and it is given to everyone who truly repents and is trusting in Jesus. But this free gift will cost you your whole life! What does that mean? It means that when we accept God’s gift of salvation, we are choosing to follow Jesus. We are putting our complete trust in Him. We are admitting that we need Him, we love Him, and we will obey Him every day. It means you must do things Jesus’ way instead of your own way. It means every day you must trust and follow Jesus for the rest of your life.

Living life Jesus’ Way

“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23

Jesus tells us in the Bible what following Him looks like. People who want to follow Jesus need to say no to themselves and say yes to Jesus. This means a change in how we think. Instead of doing things our way and only caring about what we want to do, we need do things Jesus’ way and care about what Jesus wants us to do.

When Jesus says we must pick up our cross, He is talking about being willing to give up our lives for Him. The cross was a way they killed people back when Jesus lived. When he said the word, “cross,” the people listening understood exactly what He meant. We don’t use crosses anymore, so we don’t really understand. But we can understand that Jesus wants us to make Him more important than our lives! We need to say that Jesus is the most important thing in our lives – everyday! Every day, we need to think, “Jesus, You are more important than my PS2. Jesus, You are more important than my cool, new bike. Jesus, You are more important than my Mom and Dad, even.”

When we repent and believe in Jesus, we are putting Jesus in charge of our lives. Now, we do what Jesus wants us to do. The things that are important to Jesus should be the things that are important to us. In order to find out what is important to Jesus, we have to get to know him better.

Illustration: “Imagine a castle; inside the castle is the throne room where the King sits. Picture the throne. The one who sits on the throne is the King – the one in charge. Now, imagine one of the servants in the castle sitting on the throne instead of the King. Is that right? Is the servant in charge? No, the King is. That is a little like what happens when we decide to be in charge of our lives instead of letting Jesus be in charge. Jesus is the King; Jesus should be sitting on that throne.”

We need to let Jesus take charge and we need to listen and do what Jesus says to do. We don’t want to be that servant who sits on the throne. The servant is not in charge – just like we are not in charge. We need to let Jesus be in charge and we need to live our lives the way Jesus wants us to.

Spending time with Jesus/Becoming More Like Jesus

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Jesus.” Philippians 3:8

So, we have decided to follow Jesus and put our trust completely in Jesus. Now, we want to live our lives obeying Jesus. As we live like that, we become more and more like Him!

Illustration: Show a gold coin. Say, “This is a gold coin. It’s pure gold – it’s worth a lot!” Then show a big diamond. “This is a big, beautiful, pure diamond. A big diamond is worth more than a gold coin. When you look at them together, the gold coin almost seems worthless compared to the big, beautiful diamond.” Throw the gold coin in the garbage. “When you realize what something is worth, it changes how you act toward it and how you treat it. That’s a little like how our relationship with Jesus is. The big diamond was priceless. Once you understand the real value of Jesus, other things just don’t compare to Him.”

The more we get to know Jesus, the more we will want to spend time with Him. More and more He will become the most important person in our lives. Knowing Jesus is priceless. Everything else in our lives seems worthless when compared to Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is the best – better than your friends, better than having money, better than having lots of toys, better than anything. The man who wrote this verse understood how valuable Jesus is and when He compared Jesus to everything else he had in his life, he realized that it was not worth hanging on to; he was willing to get rid of all it (like getting rid of garbage) if He could have Jesus.

How can we learn from Jesus, the Master and be more like Him? Well, to learn from Jesus and become more like Him, we have to know Him.
The best way to get to know Him is to spend time with Him.

We can get to know Jesus better by:

1. Reading the bible

  • Your Bible is where you will discover Jesus! You will find out what He was like, what He did, what He said, and how He wants you to live your life. It’s so important.
  • The books in the Bible that tell us about Jesus are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Those are the 1st books in the New Testament part of the Bible. Start there – but then keep reading! Read the whole Bible – discover God and His plan for His people.
  • So, spend time every day reading the Bible. That is one way we can spend time with Jesus.

2. Talking to him (that’s called prayer)

  • It’s a little different than talking to other people, because we can’t see Jesus. But we can know that He hears us.
  • Talk to Jesus; tell Him everything. Tell Him about school and your family and your friends. Tell Him how you are feeling. Remember, He understands what it’s like. Tell Him that you love Him and want to be more like Him.
  • Praying is talking to God. Following Jesus means having a relationship with Him – getting to know Him better. That means talking to Him. So, talk to Jesus everyday – about everything!

Live every day with Jesus!

Part 2 will be about telling kids about the Holy Spirit who is our special friend and telling others about Jesus.

Check out the other blogposts in this series!

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