What Makes a Difference for Children at Church?
When Paul the Apostle wrote to the Corinthians (2 Cor. 3:3 NKJV), he described each one of them as “an epistle of Christ … written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God.” This means that every Christian life has a story to tell and the story is written by God. But just as Shakespeare (the author) is much greater and more important than any of the many different characters in the plays that he wrote (such as “Hamlet” or “King Lear”), so God is much more important than the story of Moses or David or Paul.
It follows, then, that when we study the Bible—and the lives of some of the great men that we read about in the Bible—the most important thing we need is to understand the great work of God as it is seen in the lives of these people. We don’t really understand their significance until we see them as books, or epistles, written by the Spirit. And they were written so that we might know more and more about their Author, who is God.
It is this God-centered focus that we constantly endeavor to keep in all the Sunday school materials published by Great Commission Publications. After all, as the Apostle John says, the central thing necessary to have eternal life is to know the true God and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3). We should ask “What is David doing in this story?” But we should also ask “What is God doing here with David in this story?” Yes, we need to know that David had the courage to face and conquer Goliath. But we need even more to see the great work of God in David that enabled him to do so. It is not enough to tell our children to be like David—not unless we first help them to see the greatness of the true God in whom David trusted. For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to whom be the glory for ever. That is what the Bible is all about and our aim is to help you see that it is so!
Learn more about the Show Me Jesus curriculum today!
Do your teens groan when you say, “Turn to Genesis 1–3”?
Do they think they know everything there is to know about the biblical account of Creation and the Fall? Do they feel like they’ve heard the story of Adam and Eve a million times?
Your teens may think they know the stories from Genesis 1–3 very well, but the reality is that (for many), their understanding is limited and their knowledge is sprinkled with misconceptions, such as, Didn’t Eve eat an apple?
Genesis 1–3 is a compelling narrative with familiar names but it also deals with hard, profound questions about life—questions that need God’s answers. Foundational answers to basic questions such as Who am I? and What is my purpose? find their starting point in these chapters. They establish a solid footwork to deepen your teens’ understanding of God, the world, redemption, and themselves.
High school students are beginning to think of careers and marriage. They are wondering about themselves and how they fit into the world. They are also living in a very real present—struggling with school, family interactions, relationships with other teens, just to name a few.
In today’s culture, marriage is mocked, work endured, and the Sabbath not even considered. The individual is frequently presented as the center of the universe. And sin? If the word is even used, it refers only to relationships with others, not to a response to God, i.e., As long as you don’t hurt another person, you are not sinning. Read the rest of this entry »
Show Me Jesus is the motto of Great Commission Publications’ Sunday school curriculum. Sunday school teaching at large has remained trapped in moralism. Instead of teaching Bible stories in the context of the whole Bible story, many curricula aim at enforcing good behavior. Bible characters are studied as models for telling children to be good or as warnings not to be bad. Sunday school has neglected to teach the way of salvation from the Bible.
To teach the Bible story, we must present the Savior. In the Old Testament, Jesus, the Son of God, reveals the Father. He appears as the Angel of the Lord, distinguished from God, but also one with God. The Angel appeared to Moses at the burning bush. When Moses asked for his name, the Angel replied, “I AM.” So, too, God sent an Angel to guard and lead Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land. They must obey his voice, for “my Name is in him” (Exodus 23:21). The Angel that bears God’s name is Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry »
Vacation Bible school (VBS) is a great blessing because it gives the church an opportunity to do what the Lord has called her to do—proclaim the excellences of our life-giving Lord, fellowship with one another, edify God’s people for growth and service, nurture our covenant children, and worship the Lord.
For the pastor, it provides an opportunity to do the work of an evangelist and be personally involved in teaching and equipping disciples. What a joy it is to go door-to-door with the children of the church and eyeball them during a lesson! For all the teachers and helpers, VBS opens a door for witness to the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation. It gives covenant young people an opportunity to invite friends and neighborhood children who are without Christ and have no church affiliation to hear the gospel, with the prayer that they might trust in Christ alone for salvation.
VBS is a blessing because, though we are weak, our hope and strength are in our strong God, who is able to save young people and cause them to mature in him. Read the rest of this entry »
In First Catechism, question 21 asks children, “What is a sacred covenant?” The answer is, “A relationship that God sets up with us and guarantees by his word.” This encompasses the requirements, promises and threats contained in the covenant. Covenant is a core biblical truth for us: it shapes our understanding of God, salvation, the church, family and children.
The idea of the covenant is important because it explains how we relate to God and God to us, therefore it is to be a part of our daily lives. When children receive the sacrament of covenant baptism, we promise to teach them what that sign and seal are all about as they grow.
Catechism question 27 asks, “Did Adam keep the covenant of life?” Response: “No—he sinned against God.” If that were the whole story, we would be helplessly and hopelessly lost. However, the rest of this story is that Christ kept the covenant for us, enabling those who trust him to obey and follow him. When we do, we have eternal life, not just the promise but the reality beginning here and now.
We want our children to know that God has made a way for sinners to relate to him as a holy God. Before the fall, man’s perfect obedience was required. But man failed and his relationship with God was broken. After the fall, God’s covenantal system continued under a new order—by his grace, not by our works.
We want children of every age to understand that Christ loved us and kept the covenant on behalf of his children, and as a result God’s people are saved forever. Genesis 3:15 begins to unfold the story of the covenant of grace—a beautiful tapestry that runs throughout Scriptures. It reminds us that we relate to God by his terms and design.
The unifying theme of the Bible is the unfolding of covenant history. In the GCP curriculum, we build on that theme so young lives will be rooted in the covenant of grace. It is essential in discipling children—showing them who God is and how to be his children.
Learn more about the Show Me Jesus curriculum today!
Dr. Charles Dunahoo pastored churches in Alabama and Georgia before being called to his present position as Coordinator for the PCA Committee for Christian Education and Publications. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia, Columbia Theological Seminary and Westminster Theological Seminary.