At Long Last, An Honest View of Islam

Islam I've been wondering when someone would have the intellectual honesty to call Islam out for being the fertile ground from which ISIS grew. Islam is at its core and from its origin, a barbaric religion, and counter to what the God of the Bible stands for. Sure some will say the The Old Testament contained ethnic cleansing and called for stoning, but an honest reading of the Bible, Old and New Testaments, reveals God's purposes for mankind, and His call for justice AND mercy.

Islam, on the other hand, explicitly gives license to lie to, dispossess and murder those who do not submit to the prophet Mohammed or the Koran. And it took an unbeliever to state this clearly. Bill Maher, in an interview with Charlie Rose, even admits that Christianity is vastly different from Islam. Amen, brother. Go read and listen yourself. I doubt I'll agree with Maher on many points, but on this one distinction, we're sympatico.

Bill Maher on Charlie Rose

As the Bible says, you can tell a tree by its fruit.


Concrete Thinkers, Sin, and Salvation

babylegs The young mom pulls out a baby book to show her 5-year-old son his history. She wistfully points to an ultrasound picture with a clear outline of the son.

Mom: "That is a picture of you when you were in my belly."

The little guy makes a rather shocked and surprised face.

The 5-year-old: "You ATE ME?"

Many of our funniest children's stories come from the literal interpretation of words our youngsters hear.

Why is that? Well, children prior to puberty process information in a stage of development researcher Jean Piaget called the concrete thinking stage. This sort of thinking is rigid and doesn't bend quickly to consider alternative meanings of words (or a phrase like "in my belly.") Children in this stage (6 to 12 years, generally) can be taught these new meanings, and once they hear them, they love the humor that comes from the double meanings of words. But that's not the natural way they process information.

Children in the concrete stage of thinking also have a hard time reconciling two apparently opposite conditions. One such conundrum occurs when a parent does something the child knows to be wrong. On the one hand, the parent is the image of perfection. Mom or Dad can do no wrong from their child's point of view. But what if Dad leaves Mom for another woman, or Mom takes drugs and flakes out? These are extreme examples, certainly, but lesser failures also present challenges to children at this age. A wise parent will act quickly to help the child understand life, sin, and how to move forward appropriately.

One common example happens when a parent tells a 'little white lie' and the child overhears it. Or you say a bad word; a word that you've said was off limits in your home. When you as a parent commit a wrong, admit it, repent in the presence of the child, and ask for their forgiveness as well. This is a great opportunity to go to the Scriptures to help clarify the sin you just committed. When you do this, you help point to the source of all values—not to some nebulous and fleeting consensus of what is right and wrong, but the eternal benchmark of God's word. This is the benchmark your child will come back to in years ahead.

Help your concrete-thinking child learn that all are sinners, and all of us need to ask for forgiveness. Children at this age have a hard time seeing the world in any shade other than black and white, so forgiveness is a hard concept for them to grasp. They can easily understand hell and condemnation, since they will readily tell you that the person who violates a rule must be punished (even if they didn't break the rule intentionally). They can understand God's perfection and the holiness of heaven. These are the black and white of good and evil. Children must be taught that, while God's punishment is justified, there is forgiveness for the rule-breaker but only when we look to Christ. I'm glad God doesn't let us stay in the land of the concrete thinker, but makes a way to reconcile us to Himself.


Church and Home Must Work Together - The Bible Tells Me So

Exterior of Rural Church The current wave of books and conferences in church circles focuses on the role of parents in passing on the faith to the next generation. This wave of focus most often quotes Deuteronomy 6:7, where the children of Israel were admonished to “teach (spiritual truths) diligently to your children and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house…” The clear implication is that parents have the primary responsibility to teach God’s truth to their children. Deuteronomy 6, or D6, as the annual conference is titled, is the rallying cry of this movement (and the basis for this website's name). The D6 movement is a reaction against the view that church leaders knew best how to train children. Sunday School, professional Children’s Ministries, Youth Ministry, Children’s Church, and Church Camp all expressed the move to outsource spiritual education to the specialists at church. Many parents welcomed the release from the burden of spiritual training, and the organized church was glad to try to fill the void. As a children’s minister myself, it strokes my ego and gives me job security to see myself as the expert guiding all the children of my church to the Lord. But with record numbers of churched kids leaving their faith, many Christian leaders rightly questioned methods that ignored the importance of parents, and frankly, weren't working.

What we see with the D6 movement is a pendulum swinging away from the church and toward the parent as primary in spiritual training. Yet problems inevitably crop up when one institution tries to do without the other. The solution, of course, is not either-or. The solution is to answer this question: “What is the proper balance between church and home in the process of producing godly children?” Since God instituted both church and family, surely Scripture is not silent on this matter. What does the Bible say? We may agree with Deuteronomy 6, but let’s examine other Bible passages to be sure we have the full counsel of Scripture. It is always helpful when determining God’s view of a matter to look at the foundational passages. In other words, go to Genesis.

God’s Original Plan:

God established His creation and crowned it with Adam. But God said early on it was not good for man to be alone, so God brought Adam a helper and instituted marriage. The purposes of marriage may be manifold but at least one of those purposes was so that man could “be fruitful and multiply.” Genesis 1:27-28 tells us that God established the family. When God commanded them to multiply, both Adam and Eve were made in God’s image and innocent of sin. They were in the truest sense godly images. They were commanded then to reproduce more of the same; more godly images. We are told in Malachi 2:15 that God made man and woman one so that He might “seek godly offspring.” It was thus to the husband and wife that God gave the job of producing godly children.

God’s Plan Redeemed:

Soon man fell and no godly image could be reproduced because the original was marred. And so, God began another plan of redemption. Other institutions were needed. Clans and nations came about. A peculiar nation was created as the apple of God’s eye, and man’s marred image would be redeemed by a future messiah from Israel. Finally, in God’s plan, Jesus built His church, a community of believers with many of the same attributes and roles as families.

In the Old Testament nation of Israel and in the New Testament church, there are responsibilities for mutual care. God commanded Israel to care for orphans and widows. In the Old Testament, there was a clear presumption that a father would care for and protect his children. This is clear from how often the nation was commanded to care for the fatherless. (No command was needed for a father or mother to care for their own.) There are 42 OT references to the fatherless, most of those commanding the nation to care for their needs and include them in their feasts. Third year tithes were given specifically for the Levites, the widows and the fatherless. Families were typically not nuclear as they are today. Children were raised in large groups including aunts and uncles, grandmothers and grandfathers. This order was carried over into the church, with parents given the primary responsibility of care for children, but with commands for the church body to care for widows and orphans (James 1:27).

So, from the beginning, God held parents responsible (especially men – Ephesians 6:4) for the spiritual training of children, with the community having a clear but secondary role. Let’s study several verses that describe two groups within the church with roles unique to each. The Bible describes specific roles for all members of the church body, with certain additional roles for leaders:

Church leader’s role:

  1. Preach and teach the word of God to the church members, which would include all the redeemed regardless of age - 2Tim 4:2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
  1. Equip the saints (parents and youth) for the work of ministry through resources & counseling and through training events - Eph 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

Church members’ role:  

  1. Stir one another up to do the good works God has ordained. - Heb 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
  1. Share the celebrations and trials of the faith community (dedication, baptism, graduation, etc.) Rom 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
  1. Exercise church discipline and gentle rebuke - Gal 6:1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
  1. Help brothers and sisters sacrificially - Gal 6:2 Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

Given these clear and delineated roles within the church, we still must determine how to flesh these out in our culture. Before we turn out attention to specific ways churches do family ministry, let’s summarize what we learned from the verses above. First, church leaders must have a robust preaching and teaching ministry from God’s Word. Because adults must first have the light of Scripture and the Holy Spirit working in them before they can teach any truth to their children, teaching of parents has to be a focus. Then, the discipleship of church members must include the fellowship, close contact, and encouragement that result in practical holiness. God designed His church to provide both the truth that comes through the knowledge of His Word and the mutual encouragement of brothers in Christ. Family Ministry, and indeed all ministry in God’s church, must include both.

Based on the type of church one attends, there are different approaches to blending the influence of home and church. That they must blend is a given. How to do so is as unique as each church body, but several models are emerging. All the models have at least this in common – there is a preaching ministry where all or almost all the members hear a message from a preaching minister. The leaders then determine how much emphasis is given to the role of parents in spiritual training. In some churches no sermons touch on this issue. In some churches, this issue is a central focus and is a constant theme. Most churches fall in between. After the preaching ministry, then, there are various ways churches structure themselves to address the spiritual development of children.

Some models of family ministry:

Traditional model – Sunday School and all other programs are conducted within age groups. Leaders direct Sunday School and other discipleship programs, preach, and teach. Leaders create events and recruit lay leaders in these ‘silos’. It’s assumed that children learn what they need to know as they attend church programs.

Puritan (Family Integrated) model – All members worship and learn together, no divisions on Sunday. Fathers (and mothers) have sole responsibility. Leaders preach and teach parents with children present. Parents are accountable to teach children at home. According to the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches, these churches “reject the church’s implementation of modern individualism by fragmenting the family through age-graded, peer-oriented, and special-interest classes, thus preventing rather than promoting family unity.”

Family Based model – These churches organize programs according to ages and interests but overlay intentional activities and training events to bring families together. Family ministry, parent training, and multi-age activity is added to the traditional model.

Family Equipping model - These churches retain some age-segregated ministries but restructure the congregation to partner with parents at every level of ministry so that parents are acknowledged, equipped, and held accountable for the discipleship of their children.” This restructuring is a core value of the church leadership and so penetrates all other ministries. They often employ parent training events that tie to ‘milestones’ in the life of the child or church.

Within any model, the parent has the final say by cooperating with his church’s model, ignoring the model, or supplementing the model.  Ultimately, God has the final say by intervening in a person’s life to change the heart. Even the child who grows up with no spiritual training has the witness of Creation, and God can bring them to repentance. It’s good that we remember that, and give God the glory. By remembering this important fact, we also are prompted to pray for children, regardless of our model for family ministry.

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The Merciful Doctor

A young girl is sick and having her temperature taken.  





I went to my family doctor last month with a bad cold, and he gave me a prescription and a shot, and sure enough I got better quickly. While I was there, he spotted a suspicious lesion on my forehead and said I needed to get it looked at right away. He set me up for a biopsy immediately. Yikes! We all know what that means.

I got the biopsy done and had about five days to wonder what the future would hold. On one hand, it could be nothing. But on the other hand, it could be melanoma, a deadly cancer. Those five days dragged, as time moved slowly that week. I’m thankful that the news I got was that it was not cancerous, but if it had been, the doctor would have been most merciful to tell me so. Anyone would be angry if a doctor found some deadly disease in us but did not let us know about it. What if he had said to himself, “I just don’t have the heart to tell this guy he’s got cancer, so I think I’ll just be quiet.” I’d be furious, and you would be too! Attorneys would be licking their chops to help you bring a lawsuit.

Against all logic, some don’t want this same approach when it comes to something even more deadly than cancer. If we are sinners, and the Bible says that we all are, then we have the sentence of death. Romans 6:23 says ‘the wages of sin is death’ and if God took us to court, we would lose.

Recently a famous pastor was criticized for saying that Muslims, Jews, and all non-Christians will go to hell unless they repent and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. There was a firestorm of criticism, calling this pastor hateful, bigoted, and a nutcase. His Baptist church was called the “hate church”. But what if he is only saying what the Bible says? The Bible records Jesus’ own words saying “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH ME.” (John 14:6) In essence, Jesus says you must trust Christ in order to have eternal life. Even more hateful, Jesus says ‘unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.’ (Luke 13:3) Is Jesus hateful, or is He a faithful doctor who is telling sick patients that they will die if they don’t get the right prescription?

God is Holy, and will purge sin from His world. In His courtroom He will call it out and judge it. But God is also merciful, and His mercy is expressed through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus took the punishment you deserve. If you reject Jesus’ death as payment for your sins, you reject the only prescription for your terminal disease. It’s the only chemo for the melanoma called sin.


Difficult topics

male-female-symbols-md In the months ahead, I'm going to explore some difficult topics related to parenting in our peculiar day and time. We are living in a most remarkable age with breathtaking changes happening so fast we don't know how to respond. One of those changes is our nation's view of same sex marriage. I have a Biblical world-view, and thus I have a strong opinion about homosexuality. I believe the Bible is clear in calling homosexual behavior a sin. Yet this same Bible tells me to love my neighbor as myself, and some of these neighbors are homosexual.

Two questions seem to press in on us: 1) How do Christians show love for homosexuals and draw them toward Christ? and 2) How do Christians respond in the political arena when our nation's and our states' laws are changing?

The answer to the first is simpler than to the second, at least for me. I am learning to think of homosexuals as nothing more or less than human beings with the same dignity and problems I possess. They are sinners whom Christ died to save. If I think about them in this way, I simply focus on sharing with them the life-giving water Christ gave me, and I don't worry about much else. As I change my thinking, I am not as likely to avoid them, and I can joyfully engage them as people like myself--fallen but made in the image of God.

But when I'm asked to vote for candidates or support parties that intend to change the definition of marriage, I'm less clear about the path. The consensus we once had as a nation regarding same-sex marriage has now swung so that more believe it is right than wrong. Whether I like it or not, the laws appear to be changing. But man's laws have often been in conflict with God's laws, and we may have to relearn this lesson in 21st century America. Is it a person's fundamental right to marry someone of the same sex and receive all the blessings of marriage that society affords? I don't think so, but neither do I relish laws that deny basic civil rights to people.

At any rate, I want to pray and read and think about these issues so I can share with parents whose children may be experiencing same sex attraction or considering marriage to someone of the same sex. I read an article that stretches my thinking a bit, but I agree with much of what he said. The author is celibate and single, yet has same sex attractions. His struggle is enlightening and makes me want to pray for him and others like him. The article also reminds me that the forces of political correctness may squelch such viewpoints soon. Please read it yourself and tell me what you think. Treasure your right to read and hear from various points of view. We may not always have this right!

There is a ministry we know that gives tremendous help to those who struggle with SSA, and to those who love them. Go to


Do you call today good? A VBS post

Learning to ReadI've been preparing for VBS, as most everyone in Children's Ministry must at this time of year. Often children's teachers feel that, because they teach such simple truths week after week, they miss getting fed themselves. I've felt that way. Teaching an adult Bible study allowed me to study and teach truths for where I was in life—probing deeply into issues I faced as a Christian adult. But children's teachers teach very basic material, and frankly, it often fails to challenge and feed like adult material would. But this VBS material creates a veritable feast for me to study. I've been forced to go back and forth through the gospels to see certain essential truths about Jesus. Sure, I've read them before, but as I prepare to teach children five basic truths about this person Jesus, I've put these essentials in order and in a few words.  And as any writer knows, a few of the right words explode with a punch.

First, Jesus had eyewitnesses to His power and His position. From the moment He began His saving ministry, He was identified by the voice of God from heaven who called Him "My Beloved Son."

Second, He performed miracles that identified Him as more than a man. He commanded nature by calming waves (demonstrating power over planetary tides and forces we don't understand even today, like wind and storms) and making inanimate objects like bread and dead fish multiply. Try figuring out the physics of that—no natural phenomena can account for that! He proved He was God in all four gospels.

Third, He really and completely died on a cross. Pilate made sure of this by sending a top officer to confirm what any Roman soldier would know well—the difference between a dead man and a wounded man. Jesus died, as my mom would say, as dead as a doornail.

Fourth, He rose again, and His tomb was opened for inspection, in spite of guards posted to prevent any tampering. No one expected it. The disciples were 'scattered' and scared. The women brought spices expecting to find a decomposing body. His closest supporters had to be convinced of His resurrection. This is not the way myths or legends start. Jesus had predicted this, and it happened as He said it would.

Fifth, His disciples were radically changed by what they witnessed. They were willing to confront the same Jewish mob just 50 days later, not as fearful disciples, but as men sure of what they knew, and as men filled with the Holy Spirit. Their witness pierced the hearts of three thousand that Pentecost, birthing the same church which continues to this day--the one that has grafted into it you and me, that is, if you too believe this story and submit to this Jesus.

If you do, today is your independence day. It seemed more like Black Friday to the first disciples, but it's no wonder they call it by the name we now use–Good Friday.


We All Win By Helping Parents

shutterstock_178602935Parenting is hard.    -   signed: Captain Obvious

Parenting special needs kids is harder.   -   signed: Colonel N.O. Kidding

I was reminded of that yesterday as I worked alongside a young mom who has a special needs child, along with a precocious two year old. Together, these two wonderful kids created a full-contact, ab-building, 2,000 calorie-burning workout for their mom. And that was before lunch.

This mom loves her kids, and has a wonderful attitude about the role God has given her. She even has room in her day to help out around the church--probably too much for her sanity--but she loves that too.

When I watch young parents do all the wrangling, wiping, and wardrobe-malfunctioning that goes with raising children, I'm humbled and amazed. If you're one of those child wranglers, and especially if you have a special needs child, pat yourself on the back, and remind yourself that it's a season in your life that will pass quickly, at least it will seem so when viewed from the empty nest. I'm praying for you--that you will enjoy this season of life, and that you'll keep your perspective.

God gave you your children to train them to be Godly, and that makes your work even more important. It also means that the rest of us, the church and community, need to help parents. Children are the next generation of workers, warriors, innovators, and leaders. Any society that desires to thrive and succeed should help in raising the next generation.

Sure, parents have the primary responsibility for child rearing, but we all have a stake in the task. We all pay the price when children are neglected. The government has a role in helping by creating a safety net of programs like Head Start and Aid to Families with Dependent Children. But little things matter, too-- little things like what individuals can do. You can help out in the church nursery or offer childcare to a single parent friend while she goes shopping. Want something smaller? How about offering encouragement instead of an icy glare when a harried parent's child acts up at the grocery store? How about sympathizing with the mom who got her kids to church (with shoes on!) even if they were a few minutes late?

We all have burdens to bear, and parents more than most. The Bible tells us to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." I'm no theologian, so I don't know exactly what the "law of Christ" is, but I bet the point is "If you want to be like Christ, help each other out." Parenting is a tough job, but we can help both others and ourselves by helping train the next generation.


5 Bad Behavior Challenges (with 10 helpful Scriptures)

Five ‘Bad Behavior’ Challenges

(and Ten Scriptures to Help) 

Whenever you must confront a child, be sure to take them aside and speak privately to them so that you don’t involve other children or embarrass the child.

1.     A child just doesn’t want to do what you tell them (clean up, join in group time, etc.).

Scripture 1:  Proverbs 18:13 -  He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.

Application:  This verse is for us teachers.  Listen to what the child is saying (verbally or non-verbally).  Is the child afraid, upset about being left by the parent, or unclear about what is expected?  Try to learn the reason for un-cooperativeness before addressing it.  One way to encourage cooperation is to give good, clear directions.  Praise those who are following directions.

Scripture 2:  Hebrews 13:17 – Obey them that have the rule over you…

Application:  The Bible tells children to obey their parents, and the authority of the parent is passed to the teacher for the time children are in your care.  This delegated authority is handled by us teachers as a sacred duty, not to abuse it, but to do what‘s best for children with that authority.  We can properly remind children that their parents expect them to obey us.  This is our Biblical basis for helping them learn to obey in classroom situations.  Of course, if teachers can re-direct a child rather than draw a battle line, that will often defuse the situation.  Remember that learning to obey is a lifelong task!

2.     A child reacts with angry outbursts.

Scripture 1:  Proverbs 15:1 – A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

Application:  When children become angry, your best response is a gentle tone of voice.  Your angry or loud voice in response will add tension and stir up more anger.  This doesn’t mean you cannot be firm, but make sure your face and voice don’t add more tension to the situation.

Scripture 2: James 1:19 - …be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry…

Application:  Since this verse does NOT say, don’t become angry, but to be SLOW to anger, we want to help children slow down the anger process.  In the heat of the moment, just getting the child to express the reason for anger in words will help.  You might say “Use your words to tell me what is wrong.”  You are helping them learn to deal with their anger.  You may need to use the ‘break’ technique to allow them to calm down before addressing the reason for the anger.  Remember, the anger itself is not wrong but the resulting actions often are.    The old technique “Count to 10 before speaking” actually has a biblical basis!  Once the anger subsides, we can talk to the child about the cause of the outbreak.  Often this will lead to discussions about sharing and selfishness (see problem 4 below).  Sometimes children simply have thinking errors, e.g., thinking they can’t get more crayons if someone takes theirs.

3.     A child hits another child (or verbally attacks/teases others).

Scripture 1:  Galatians 5:14 – “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Application:  Help children to see that we should do to others what we want them to do to us (Golden Rule – Luke 6:31).  God knows that we love ourselves, so He uses this self love to teach us how we should love others.  If we want something for ourselves, we should want that for others.  If we don’t want to be hit, then we know that we should not hit others.

Scripture 2: Matthew 5:9 -  Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

Application:  Peace is not simply the absence of fighting.  We make peace when we pay attention to the feelings of others.  We are like God when we help people get along with each other.  We want to teach children that it is everyone’s responsibility to help make and keep peace.  In the classroom, we want children to observe and be aware of others’ feelings.  If someone doesn’t have their fair share of toys, every child can help by sharing.  Encourage children to regularly stop what they are doing and notice what others are doing.  Philippians 2:4 says “…do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.”  As children become aware of others’ needs, they have opportunities to show empathy.  (A great Bible story to tell is about Abigail, Nabal and David in 1 Samuel 25.)

4.     A child won’t share.

Scripture 1:  Acts 20:35 – It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Application:  This is true because God says it is true.  We are blessed (happy) when we learn to give to others.  God is a giver, and we are made in His image.  I think maybe this is the first verse I ever memorized.  My mom said it to me constantly, and I really believe hearing and knowing this verse made me a cheerful giver.  In practical application, I don’t take a toy away from a child and force sharing that way.  When we do that, we teach brute force to the offender, and we only satisfy the selfishness of the one who didn’t have the toy.  That child needs to learn how to handle hurts, and to ask politely.  Among preschool children, asking the child with the toy to give the toy to the next child when they are through usually allows that child to share from the right spirit, not out of compulsion.  If they won’t share, I set a timer for a reasonable time and tell both parties what will happen.

Scripture 2:  2 Corinthians 9:7 – God loves a cheerful giver.

Application:  We need to point children to the Lord as the one we need to please.  This verse not only points out the benefit of giving but also stresses the attitude of the giver.  To give and be jealous is not our goal but to truly enjoy when others are happy.  Share with the giver how their gift made another person happy.  Again, as much as possible do not force sharing.  Redirect the child without the item to something else to help them manage their disappointment and learn to be patient.  Encourage examples of sharing by celebrating them publicly.

5.     A child is too sensitive, crying or sulking whenever they get offended.

Scripture 1:  Psalm 31:4 -  Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.

We want children to learn to deal with disappointments in life and learn godly coping skills.  God allows difficulty in our lives so we will learn to trust Him and seek Him.  When a child is too sensitive, we want to find out why (go back to situation number one!) and make sure there is not something going on and causing a child to act out of character.  We need to be good observers of family interaction at drop off.  Is the child sad or are the parents unusually stressed?  No matter what the reason for hyper-sensitivity, we can help children deal with disappointments by pointing to the strength we have in God.  After salvation, children have the Holy Spirit within them to help.  Even before, we can help children know about God as our helper (Psalm 46:1 – a very present help in times of trouble).

Scripture 2: James 1:2  Consider it all joy…when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance (strength to endure).

Application:  When we are disappointed, we usually have thinking errors—things like “I never get what I want” or “I’ll never get to be the one to go first”.  We may have to spend time helping children see the truth that we don’t always get what we want.  Everyone can’t be first.  Also, we need to help children see that bad things (disappointments) help us know how it feels when others are disappointed.  And since God is sovereign, the things we go through are allowed by Him for a greater purpose—not to hurt us but to help us grow strong.  A great antidote for moodiness is a dose of thankfulness.


Child Development Principles for Sunday School Teachers

Picture1 Development Principles for Sunday School Teachers

  1.  God made individuals.  At 24 hours after conception, the unique combination of genes from a mother and a father will be present in the new creation growing in a mother’s womb.  At 40 days after conception, a baby in the womb has a unique brain wave which will be consistent for a person’s life.    We must think of the children we serve as individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made by an infinite Creator for a specific plan.
  2. There is a wide range of ability in any group of same-age children.  (Among my friends’ children, one boy waited to age two before saying anything, then spoke in whole sentences.  Another friend’s child, a girl, spoke in whole 4-word sentences at 11 months old.)  So, if you have a group of “young three’s”, you will likely have children who act in some areas like a mature 4 year old, along with children who act in some ways like young 2 year olds.  Young two’s may barely be verbal while mature fours may already by reading.  This creates a real challenge for teachers.  One solution?  Allow for plenty of individual choice by using a ‘center-based’ classroom—lots of choices children can make for themselves.  Observe!  See who is mature and who isn’t.
  3. Stages of development are generally consistent in their order, but the rate of progress is experienced very differently by each child.  For example, all children go through a progression in the social stages of their play, from solitary (alone) to parallel (side by side with similar toys) to associative (side by side working on a common construction) to cooperative (assigning different roles, like playing mother/child).  However, one child may linger in the first stage, solitary, until they are four, while others go quickly through the stages and play cooperatively when they are only three.
  4. Traumatic events will cause a child to regress to earlier stages.  That’s why a four year old whose family moves to a new town, or whose mom has a new baby, may go back to bed-wetting as they experience ‘trauma’.

All these principles should cause us as teachers to have great patience and seek the Lord’s wisdom as we first observe*, then interact with His magnificent creations.  The children we serve are of infinite worth to God.  He knows them inside out and has a unique plan for them.

Here’s my challenge to you:  Keep a notebook with you as you teach.  Each time you have class, pick a child to observe and make it a goal to record something they said or did that made you appreciate their uniqueness.  Maybe they hopped on one foot.  Maybe they showed empathy for another child.  Maybe an infant grabbed something then intentionally let it go (that’s a big deal for a 4 month old!)  Share that observation with their parents if you get a chance that day, or call them later.  You will have given glory to that child’s Creator and made an important connection with a parent.  Do it once and I guarantee you will want to make it a habit.

* Proverbs 18:13 -  He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him.