Encouraging Children to Engage the Bible

Have you ever wondered what the children are doing at church on Sunday mornings?  It might surprise you that there are many similarities to our main service!
Our goal is to provide the children with an age-appropriate opportunity to worship God with fellow believers, as well as to read and grow in God’s Word and be drawn closer to Him.  The kids love to sing praises to God!  From the wonderful songs of our childhood like, “Jesus Loves Me” and “Be Careful Little Ears What You Hear” to new songs like “We Are Royals” and “Wise Up!” the children are discovering the importance and the joy of praising God in song and motion.
Of course, the foundation of the hour is our time spent in God’s Word.  Firstly, it is important that the children know how to read God’s Word.  To do that, they need to have a Bible in their hands! We encourage the children to bring their own Bible to church but ensure that we have a Bible for them to read if they do not have one.  (Picture Bibles are appropriate for Preschool children, but starting around SK to Grade 1, children should have a full version of the Bible. FYI, there are many child-appropriate versions available that can be found at Christian bookstores or online).

Teaching children to read the Bible begins by knowing the books of the Bible and how to locate them.  (There are some fun songs out there to learn the books of the Bible – do a YouTube search, and you will see many.  Here is one that is enjoyed by City Centre kids: The Books of the Bible | Elementary Worship Song.  If a child does not know the order of the books, then it is as simple as using the table of contents, locating the beginning of the book you are looking for and then locating the chapter and text.  Next, we read the Bible passage.  I like to read only a few verses at a time, unpacking each section as we go.  Otherwise, all the children hear is a bunch of words that they don’t understand, and they tune out quickly, something we don’t want to happen!

When you think of reading the Bible with children, I’m sure you think of reading the stories of Noah, David, or Daniel, the bible stories about people who have something to teach us how we can live for God.  Of course, this is a great starting point. It is important for children to read and know these stories, but we need to read ALL parts of the Bible to children, including the books of wisdom (Job to Song of Solomon), the epistles (Romans to Jude) and those which are prophetic (Revelation).  Do be prepared to give some context and explanation to the words you read, regardless of what you read.  No matter your age, your goal should never be to simply read the Bible, it should also be to understand it and live it.

If your children (or grandchildren) attended Kingdom Kids in September, I hope they were able to share that our lessons for the month were based in Psalms and Proverbs (with a sprinkle of wisdom found in James).  What great timing it was to begin a new school year by discovering how to live our lives by making choices which are wise in God’s eyes.  Big Ideas included, “Be wise by not choosing sides” (treat each other equally – Proverbs 22:2, James 2:1); “Choose your words carefully” – Psalm 19:34; “Choose to do good in God’s eyes” (obey God) – Psalm 1:2; and “Choose God” (have a relationship with Him and trust Him – Proverbs 3:5-6).

When working with children, it is important to ensure there is a fun aspect.  (Yes, we try to make learning God’s Word fun!)  On Sunday mornings, this might be a game we play or a craft that is made to further solidify the Big Idea.  These activities give a visual and kinesthetic reminder of what God’s Word is teaching us.

I cannot finish sharing my thoughts without reminding you that Sunday morning at church is not the only time and place where children are to be growing in God’s Word.  In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, God clearly states that we are to teach His Word “diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise…you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”  Let us all do our part throughout the week and throughout the years to encourage children to know God, love God, trust God, and live for God.

Ms. Heidi

Changed By A Prayer

I love to hear other people pray.  From listening to others, I’ve learned about “how to pray,” and I think you can learn a lot about the individual when you hear them pray.  I have to say I was too intimidated to pray out loud in a group for a long time.  Eventually, I came to understand that I needed to relax and just talk to Him.  It’s not about impressing Him or others.  It’s simply sharing from my heart to His.
Growing up in a very secular home environment, my conscious regard for prayer was virtually non-existent.  I had little expectation that there was anyone or anything “up there” listening to me, or paying any attention to me for that matter.  I felt I was pretty much on my own, and that aside from my family members and a couple of friends, the world around me would be mostly unaware of my existence.  After all, who would care about an insignificant creature like me? There was nothing special about me.  I didn’t possess any special abilities or talents.  I hadn’t accomplished anything that tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of others couldn’t do.  What right did I have to expect anyone, outside of my family, to even notice me?  None.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world.” Ephesians 2:1
I do have a faint recollection of being shuttled off to the local United Church in the village near our home on Sunday mornings.  I went with my younger brother and my buddy next door.  I’m not certain when it started, or how long this practice lasted, but deep inside me there is some faint memory of a musty church basement classroom, other children and sanitized Bible lessons created especially for us.  I believe it was likely from this experience that in high school as I began to consider concepts such as infinity, time and eternity, I rationalized that there must be something more to this journey than the expected physical existence of 80 odd years of life on this planet.  Provided I managed to avoid accidental death or a medical misfortune of some kind, of course.  There had to be more.  Didn’t there?
“For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world.“ Romans 1:20
After marriage and 4 years of occasional church attendance, the faithful witness of a number of Christians in the family, and the birth of our first son, I was believing that God was real, Jesus was His Son and that the Bible was true.  I thought I should straighten out my life before making the life-changing decision to submit to Jesus’ Lordship of my life.
“For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.” Romans 5:10
Try as I might, I failed.  I couldn’t change my life in my own strength.  Finally I gave up, and surrendered to Jesus.  I didn’t instantly feel any different, so I asked, “How do I know this is real?  How do I know Jesus lives in me?”  My friend suggested that as I pray, I could ask Him to do something for me that would show me that He’s “there.”  So, I prayed for the first time, “Jesus change me.  I’ve tried, I can’t.  Show me you’re real and you’re with me, please.”
God was extremely gracious to me that day!  He changed me in a way that I knew could only be His doing!  He proved to me He was real, He was with me, and he heard my prayer!  What a realization!  I knew I could NEVER deny the reality of His existence and His love for me!
“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9
That answered prayer has stuck with me for a lifetime and has been what I cling to when struggles come and when doubts have crept in.  Prayer has been so meaningful and foundational as I’ve grown in my faith and understanding.  Has God answered “yes” to every prayer request since?  No way.  He’s far too merciful, kind and generous to allow me to wreck what He wants to do through me.  I know He hears me though, and that makes all the difference.  He is free to do with me what He decides is best, and that’s more than okay with me.
“The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears toward their cry.” Psalm 34:15
More than 40 years later, and I’m still amazed that God not only knows me but He cares enough to hear from me.  In fact, He WANTS to hear from me!  The Creator and Sustainer of ALL things!  Whoa… it blows my mind to know this! How could you not want to “snuggle up” to a Friend like that?
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23
I really enjoy being part of the Prayer Gathering every Wednesday evening.  We spend an hour together sharing requests, reading and praying through some Scriptures, worshiping through song, and then we break into small groups to pray together.  It really is one of the hi-lights of my week.
Sound interesting?  Shoot me an email or call me at the office.  I can hook you up.
Pastor Drew