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Posts Tagged ‘children’s ministry’

The best way to prepare and protect my children from wolves in the church is to do what I need to anyway.  I should be helping them seek Christ.  I should be giving them and understanding and respect for God’s word.  So, what can I do?  No matter what church I attend, or how great the teaching is for children, my husband and I can teach them at home.   It is actually required of us as parents to train them up in the way they should go.

For us, though we’ve been less than consistent, it means reading scripture to them and discussing it or explaining it as we go along.  It means praying with them daily.  It means setting up times in their day to study the bible on their own.  It means using teachable moments to turn their focus on Christ and what is acceptable behavior.  It means asking forgiveness when we’ve wronged them, and modeling grace to them.  It means disciplining but also giving mercy when they really deserve the heat at times.  It means being the kind of parents God wants us to be. 

If there is false teaching in the church, a good sign you’re doing what you are supposed to with your children would be them telling you before you get to point it out to them.  That didn’t happen in our case, but once we did begin to ask what was going on that they were uncomfortable with in church, they were able to give very amazing answers.  They mentioned the use of entertainment rather than teaching, the lack of depth when the bible story time was given, the behavior of preacher’s kids (funny, this one is a long time issue anyway), the mention of things irregular in prayer etc.  Once we started attending a church with expository teaching, our kids were able to say they actually learned more in the last 9 months there than they had at the other church for seven years.  They could point to the hymns, scripture reading in Sunday school, and the inclusion of children in the regular service as examples of why they knew more.  They also stated that sermons in the former church provided memories of the illustrations, jokes, and stories, but they couldn’t seem to remember the biblical messages.  For example, a pastor spoke about transformation in the “Red Zone.”  He did quote scripture, but what my kids recall was that he spoke of touchdowns in the end zone.  This is years later.  They cannot recall anything biblical about that.  Now they know they are reading in John and can recall the events recorded and the reasons they are important.  Big change. 

Best way to protect my children, teach them the bible.  Plain and simple.

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We read the bible in our house, and my hope is to go straight through the New Testament first.  At some point we’ll likely do a split plan, reading a bit of both each day. 

I really am wanting to figure out a way to teach church history correctly past Acts, and have been given some suggestions for curriculum.  I would like my older children to read biographies, essays, and sermons of solid church leaders from the past.  I do know our church has some sort of systematic teaching…they mentioned it from the pulpit recently.  I think it’s getting to be time we have some interviews with pastors to figure out what exactly they do, and how they assist us as parents in the training of our children.

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shepherdministry

I wanted to post the curriculum as an example without our former church name on the link.  The above curriculum encourages “shepherds” to have children listen to a song while on the floor with socks off, and with lighted candles.  There are other things that disturb me like some questions that do not have any right answers.  Quite a problem.

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Just checked in on children’s ministry at my former church. The curriculum I helped teach just a few years ago is either getting progressively worse, or it was edited by the church and they aren’t doing it exactly as published on the web site…or I was blind to the weirdness. The last Sunday’s lesson included having the children relax, they could even recline on the floor and take off their shoes. The “shepherd” was to light candles and play a CD of “God So Loved the World” by Jackie Velasquez. We never did this. I recall playing the song and helping the children memorize the verse, but did not light candles and encourage the kids to lie on the floor. I am disturbed by the suggestion that “there is no right answer” to questions. Below is a cut and paste of the questions from the curriculum:

◆ How How much does God love you?
◆ Can you think of someone you love enough to sacrifice something for them?
◆ What is eternal life?
◆ What does Jesus tell us to do so we can live with him in heaven forever after
we die?
◆ What does it mean to believe in Jesus?

There is no right answer to “what does it mean to believe in Jesus?” Okay, so why spend the time talking about this? “What is eternal life” doesn’t have a right answer? Come on people. This is just downright foolish talk.

The suggestion for “large group worship” is to use wind chimes for a call to worship. When has this been a practice in church? I do not have a problem with candles and bells being used as I don’t think this is a sin. I do, however, think it’s not just for getting attention or for making the room pretty. There is a specific agenda, and it involves a specific mindset in teaching. The children are being prepped for meditation. They are being preened for contemplative prayer. I do know that bells are often used in eastern religious experiences. Not sure if it’s been so in Catholic churches. I just find it unfair that the parents are told this is “spiritual formation” and are not given an honest picture of what that means and where it’s going.

 The curriculum comes with this at the bottom:

Copyright © Vickie Bare. Printed

Workshop Zone® Rotation Sunday School Curriculum by Cook Communications

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I realize leaving our church would seem the right thing to do given we have children.  We have enough children that we cannot be in all their classes.  However, we can be involved with the ones that are younger while training the older ones in discernment.  We have decided to not have our children in the midweek ministries and are thinking of dropping out of small group or switching groups.  We are likely to have our children attend a bible based local ministry during the week in a church closer to home.  They already know some of the children, and it may help ease transitions later. 

Staying in the church has allowed us to talk to a few people.  I believe I have shared my concerns with only four women.  One woman and her husband have decided to move their family out of our church, they just do not have time to fight a battle.  One woman is being careful and sees some problems but trusts the leadership so much she and her husband won’t see the big picture (you have to believe the new age movement is out there and is wrong before you can realize your church is entering into it), one woman is sticking it out coming from Pagitt’s church in the past.  Her goal is to try to be a positive influence within our church, she knows full well where it’s all headed and plans to keep her hands in the church so she can keep presenting the gospel to the people she’s come to love.  Another woman is dealing with so much in her life she can only handle so much of what I’ve shared with her.  She and her husband believe what is happening is bad in many ways, but also don’t want to “throw the baby out with the bathwater.”  At first they were in denial (just as I had been at first).  Now, the wife is coming to see much of what I see.  She speaks to her friends in church without mentioning me.  She shares the concerns I have shown her, but only if she personally is concerned.  One of her friends works closely with leadership, so she’s been injecting questions and is actually hearing rumbles that discussions on some of the authors and outside pastors have been happening.  My husband has questioned two elders, and who knows if that has given them some pause to think.

So, staying and discussing with others has so far caused people we shared with to pay attention, and a few are openly expressing concerns to others within the church.  If I started excitedly sharing all my concerns to everyone, which is what I wanted to do in the first place, no one would have listened and I would have been labeled as the problem.  As it stands, people are thinking and questioning and talking.  This has gotten my set of concerns farther than I could have alone. One of my friends plans of speaking to a pastor soon, and this will help me gauge the heart of this man.  He is the one that seems the most reasonable, and also will tell my friend honestly if he sees anything she’s concerned about going on whether he thinks it’s a problem personally or not.

It’s taken years to move this ship, it’ll take years to move it back (or maybe even move it into a better direction).   What’s hard is knowing if we need to just leave, and when.

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Metanarrative, God’s Story, Your Story, emergent, emerging, missional (and I REALLY like missions but recognize this phrase now as used too often to mean something else), our faith journey, bible police, authenticity, plugged in (okay, this can be used anywhere to mean getting involved, but I’m sick of it), small group (whatever happened to bible study people?), tranformational, spiritual formation, we’re so excited (every change is so exciting), we’ll explain it later when it gets up and rolling, you’ll look at this in a whole new way, I highly recommend this book (and it’s not ever the bible)…

There are so many over used phrases, I cannot list them all.  I am also finding there are many over used tactics.  An idea is pre-presented weeks before,  but only in little bits.  Later, it’s advertised with flashy posters or mail out cards.  Usually, whether it’s a sermon or a children’s ministry idea, you don’t really know what it’s about until you are in the middle of the event.  This makes me frustrated.  I’ve been asking our children’s pastor for months what is going to be replacing AWANA this fall and we’re just now getting that there will be some sort of skit night once a month to involve the evidently dumb and lazy family members that have the audacity to just drop their kids off for a program.  I have to decide if I want my family involved, but all I get is a vague, “we’ll tell you later.”  Why can’t they be UP FRONT as to what they are teaching to our children?  Why does it all have to be a big unveiling?  It’s irresponsible to send your kids to do something and not know what it is about at least generally.  I only know the intent is to present the PEACE plan to the parents and children on skit night, and then there will be teaching for the whole month somehow from this.  I know this because someone I spoke with may be planning some of it and shared it with me, not the pastor who is in charge, but the friend who has no idea what the whole program is about either. 

I feel I’m being yanked along, and the plan is to get my children following along first so I cannot be free…

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I wrote this elsewhere, but wanted to give more of a picture of what happened today in church.

I was quite upset today when the pastor talked about contending for the faith from Jude and then said, “but don’t be Bible police” and said it was for a community to contend, not the individual. What does that mean? And then to say the church is just one generation away from death (he had the crowd answer “how many generations are we away from a dead church?” and there were people out there who yelled, ONE, and then he said, “do you believe it?” and  just about everyone said, “yes.”) but to not recall that the Bible teaches there is always a remnant saved by grace…denies how God has planned things and is in control. We are teaching our children, and the church is not about to die for lack of teaching, there are parents who are teaching their children. Noah was a remnant, and in bad times in many countries with atheist governments, there is still a remnant of hidden believers. It all just sounded like the pastor expected us not to think without consulting the group, and that we were to believe that the next generation is lost. Sure, we need to teach the children, but what does this mean and are we teaching them Biblically? How do we know if they separate the children from the parents in children’s ministry and youth groups?My kids told me today they did have a time when they were told to “be still” and think of all the things God has done for them. They were to be still, be quiet, and close their eyes, and think. They did this for about five minutes according to my kids, and no one offered a prayer at this time, it was just a time to think. I find this to be very subtle and yet disturbing. Why be still? Why not spend time thanking God for the things he’s done? 

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