Latest Links

Another load of links…

Latest Links

More links to check out…

3 models of family ministry

In a new book released in the autumn which I’m looking forward to reading, Timothy Paul Jones defines family ministry as “The process of intentionally and persistently realigning a congregation’s proclamation and practices so that parents are acknowledged, trained, and held accountable as the persons primarily responsible for the discipleship of their children.”

Jared Kennedy is blogging through this book at the Sojourn Kids blog and gives an overview of the three main perspectives or models of family ministry:

The Family-Integrated Ministry Model: Family-integrated ministry is by far the most radical.  In a family-integrated church, all age-graded classes and events are eliminated. There is no youth group, no children’s ministry, no age-graded Sunday school program.  The generations learn and worship together, and parents bear primary responsibility for the evangelism and discipleship of their children.  Voddie Baucham, Jr., author of Family Driven Faith, has been the most vocal advocate of this perspective.

The Family-Based Ministry Model: In the family-based model, no radical changes occur in the church’s internal structure. The congregation still maintains youth ministry, children’s ministry, singles ministry, etc. What makes this model different is that the focus of each ministry shifts.  Students may still experience worship and small groups in peer groups, separated from other generations. However, each ministry sponsors events and learning experiences (with inter generational curriculum) that are intentionally designed to draw generations together. Mark DeVries pioneered this approach in his book Family-Based Youth Ministry.

The Family-Equipping Ministry Model: In the family-equipping model, many semblances of age-organized ministry remain intact. But the church leaders plan organize their ministries so that they champion the place of parents as primary disciple-makers in their children’s lives.   The church intentionally co-champions the role of both the church and the home in equipping students and families.  Two strong advocates of this perspective are Steve Wright, author of ApParent Privelege, and Bryan Haynes, author of the forthcoming book, Shift: What it takes to finally reach families today.

What is Family-Based Youth Ministry?

I have enjoyed reading Family-Based Youth Ministry by Mark DeVries.  Before writing one of my book recommendations I am posting a three part summary of the book.  The first part HERE dealt with the need for family-based youth ministry.  The second part below deals with what family-based youth ministry actually is which is covered in the second half of the book, chapters 7 to 12.

***

What is Family-Based Youth Ministry? 

Chapter 7: It only makes sense The Vision of Family-Based Youth Ministry

Researchers have discovered that young people who grew up in church attending the worship service and not Sunday School were much more likely to be involved in church as an adult than those young people who had attended only Sunday School without attending the worship service. 

The real power for faith formation is not in the youth programme but in the family and the extend family of the church.  Family-Based youth ministry recognises this, and these two things a priority. 

Priority 1: Empower Parents 

By supporting them and equip them to pass on their faith to their teenagers as effectively as possible. 

Priority 2: Equip the extended family of the church 

By providing the teenagers with extended Christian family, which is done by allowing them to experience the extended family of the church community.  This is especially beneficial for those who don’t come from Christian homes. 

These two principles can be implemented with any model of youth ministry.  Churches need to be intentional in choosing its youth ministry model and then undergirding it with family-based programming. 

The primary goal of family-based youth ministry is to equip young people to grow toward mature Christian adulthood. 

Chapter 8: Beyond the Cleaves The Challenge and Opportunity of Ministry to Nontraditional Families 

What every teenager needs in order to growing in Christ (faith nurturing family and extended faith nurturing family) is especially true for those from non-traditional families. 

There are many types of non-traditional families: Divorce, single parent, blended families and stepparents, with chemical dependency, with aging grandparents, in financial crisis, with both parents working. 

We are unlikely to be able to reach all these families and their needs specifically, but we can provide a consistent personal ministry to each teenager.  The extended family of the church can support for these families. 

Chapter 9: Walking the Tightrope Family-Based Youth Ministry and the Developmental Need for Independence 

There are two needs with regards to faith formation that teenagers have: 

Need for continuity – faith community to be involved in, a ‘family friendly’ youth ministry. 

Need for individuation – helping young people establish their own faith identities. 

Family-Based youth ministry is not about abandoning traditional forms of youth programming (which deals with the need for individuation) as much as it is about building the foundation of solid connections with mature Christian adults (which deals with the need for continuity). 

Chapter 10: A Different Gospel Youth Culture comes to Church 

Three of the dominant characteristics of our culture are in opposition to the Christian gospel.

1) Individualism – Christian discipleship happens in the context of Christian community.  Although we do want our teenagers to become independent in Christ, that is they stand on their own faith.  

2) Consumerism - Christian discipleship is not about seeking pleasure and avoiding pain and boredom.  Discipline is a key component.  If you build your youth ministry upon an entertainment model, the young people will be consumers and will move on when they get bored of it.  

3) Demand for success - Christian discipleship is not about treating God as the most efficient means to success in life.  It’s about learning to trust God during times of failure and suffering as well as times when everything is going well. 

Chapter 11: God Calling Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry 

When dependence on God’s grace is excluded from our thinking we end up trusting in human strategies.  All our systems are not enough to lead us to repentance and faith.  We can only support teenagers in the growth that only God can bring.  This means the best we can do is to work with God’s design for faith formation. 

God’s first provision is the family (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).  Sunday School and youth group is not a substitute for the spiritual training in the home.  The Sunday School movement began originally as outreach to unchurched poor children.  

God’s second provision is the Christian community.  God wants people connected to the community of faith.  Ideally every young person who makes a commitment to Christ should be eager to become part of a specific church.  The parent’s commitment to the community of faith should also hold them accountable for their faithfulness in the home. 

The Christian family is a tool for building faith and character in God’s children, but the family is not God and without His work will not be able bring any growth. 

Chapter 12: Making it work Implementing a Family-Based Youth ministry 

There are two main approaches to family-based youth ministry. 

1) Family ministry model - this aims to empower families and support the ministry that rightly belongs to families.  So churches employ a ‘families pastor’ whose role is to empower and equip parents to nurture their children in the Christian faith.  Programmes under this model might include divorce recovery, marriage enrichment, and parenting seminars.  One problem will always be the parents who do not and will not take the initiative of doing Christian nurture in the home. 

2) Youth ministry model – this aims to help young people come to maturity in Christ by accessing their family and the extending family of the church.  

There are two types of family-based programming. 

1) Uniquely family based events – such as parent/youth Sunday School classes, retreats. 

2) Exfamized events – taking a programme already in place and infusing it with parents and extended Christian family of adults.  If an event worked with your young people, try it with young people and parents together.

Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by

A helpful book I’ve just finished reading is Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by.  Originally written for the London Men’s Convention a few years back, it has now been repackaged for a wider audience. 

rocksolid

This book is definitely one to, as they say in the preface, be worked through in small groups “as a means of getting a hold on the truths that define who we are as followers of Christ”.

This book packs so much into every chapter.  As well as explaining and applying one of the 12 truths, there is also a short Bible study, some discussion questions, a real life story of how the truth has been used by God in a person’s life, and a brief account of someone who has contended for this doctrine in the history of the church.

The introduction is helpful because it explains why doctrine is so important, and also why these 12 truths have been selected and the relationship between each one of them.

The 12 gospel truths covered in this book are:

  • The unique supremacy of Christ
  • The depravity of sin
  • The penal substitution of Christ
  • Justification by faith alone
  • The sovereignty of God the Father
  • The regeneration of God the Holy Spirit
  • The reality of judgment
  • The priority of evangelism
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The centrality of Bible teaching
  • The importance of the local church
  • The necessity of holiness 

There are a number of reasons why I like this book:  

Firstly, it’s an easy read.  

Secondly, it gives a good overview of these important doctrines in a practical way.  For new Christians who may not be ready to delve in Grudem’s Systematic Theology, it’s a great introduction to what Christians believe.  

Thirdly, it defends the great truths of Christianity that have come under attack.  

Lastly, because of the multiple settings it could be used with: one to one discipleship, home groups, men’s groups, ladies groups, adult Sunday School, older youth group, basis for a sermon series.  I think it would also be possible to adopt this book for a series of children’s talks for church (now that’s an idea!) 

For an introduction to the doctrines of the Christian faith, you can’t get much better than this! 

Rock Solid: 12 gospel truths to live by is available to buy HERE

Also check out the special offer on this book at 10ofthose.com HERE.

Latest Links

Here are the links!

Cold Turkey Evangelism

In the February 09 issue of The Briefing is a helpful article on walk-up evangelism by Ben Pfahlert.  Here are some of things from it that I noted down: 

“Walk-up evangelism is walking up to a stranger and sharing the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.” 

“Walk-up evangelism assumes that the Christian initiating the discussion has no existing relationship with the person they approach.” 

Why we don’t do walk-up evangelism 

The reasons for doing walk-up evangelism are much the same as the reasons for doing evangelism full stop, but there are some reasons why we don’t do it that are specific to walk-up evangelism. 

“It does more damage than good.”  “It just doesn’t work.”  “I’m no good at it, I haven’t got the right personality.” 

These are pretty poor reasons.  Walk-up evangelism can do more damage than good, but it doesn’t have to be that way.  Just because we might not see immediate results doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work.  God can use people who don’t think they are good at evangelism but who faithfully share the gospel to save people through Jesus. 

The key reason why people don’t do walk-up evangelism is “I’m scared.” 

Tips for doing walk-up evangelism 

  • Go in pairs (same sex) – this provides accountability.
  • Approach lone members of the same sex – enables the conversation to be more focused.
  • Have a set goal – find out what people think of Jesus, give a short gospel presentation.
  • ‘Walk-up evangelism’ is not the same as ‘Walk-up invitation’ – walk-up invitation (inviting someone to an event) rarely leads to walk-up evangelism.
  • Before setting out read the Bible and pray together – helpful passages include 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  • Approach someone who doesn’t look busy or pre-occupied.
  • Make sure that your first words introduce yourself and contain a genuine question which they can opt in or out of.
  • Afterwards spend time praying for those who you spoke to. 

See also my notes from a seminar on open-air/street evangelism HERE.

Family Driven Faith

There are many books on parenting out there, but if you were going to buy just one, Family Driven Faith by Voddie Baucham Jr. is certainly one that Christian parents should consider getting.  You may not agree with everything Baucham says but it will certainly challenge you to take seriously God’s call to do what you can with His help to raise children who walk with God.  Below I have written a summary of what the book is about and engaged a little with the bits I disagreed with. 

fdf

In the opening chapter of ‘Family Driven Faith’ Baucham assesses the current situation, which is that so-called Christian children are walking away from the faith when they reach adulthood, and asking why that is.  The answer given is that most of these so-called Christian children are not Christians, and that many Christian parents have yet to realise that their primary goal in parenting is their children’s walk with the Lord.  Baucham then calls Christian parents to do something about this trend by pointing them to the help in raising children which is found in the Bible, particularly Deuteronomy 6.  The principles found in Deuteronomy 6 are then discussed in chapters 2-8. 

Chapter 2 looks at applying Deuteronomy 6:4 in our parenting by being committed to God and living lives that honour Him.  Five ways in which we can do this (based on Ephesians 5:15-21) is by watching our walk (being good examples to our children); by being good stewards of the time (realising that we only get one chance to raise our kids); by understanding God’s Will (our children don’t belong to us, they belong to God so God’s Will for our children should be our top concern); by constantly yielding to God’s Spirit (which we do when we acknowledge God whenever we can); and by ordering our relationships by the book (which means making marriage the priority relationship in the home).     

Onto Deuteronomy 6:5 in chapter 3, where the big principle is that if we learn to love God we will learn to love period.  This requires us getting our definition of love right.  The biblical definition of love is that love is an act of the will (it’s a choice) accompanied (not led) by emotion that leads to action (it’s proved by our efforts) on behalf of its object.  This understanding of love is transferrable to all our relationships. 

In chapter 4 looks at Deuteronomy 6:5 and the need for our children to do not only what God’s says but also to submit their will to the will of God.  For this to happen, children need to be taught to think biblically because they act on what they believe.  Five keys areas our children need to be taught to think biblically in is about God, man, truth, knowledge and ethics.    

The focus of chapter 5 is the application of the first half Deuteronomy 6:7 and the need of getting our children into the word of God if we want our children to think biblically.  As Baucham points out: “We must get our kids into the Word of God if we intend to get the Word of God into our kids.”  The responsibility for doing this lies with the parents.  “You can impact your child’s faith-life by reading and teaching the Bible at home.  More importantly, God has entrusted and commissioned you (not the youth minister or the Sunday school teacher) with this awesome task.”  Three ways in which we can do this is by firstly, simply reading the Bible to our children.  Why?  Because the Bible is the very Word of God; it’s God’s primary tool in preparing us for a life of godliness and service; it’s an agent by which God conforms us to the very image of Christ, and it’s a change agent.  Secondly, by Q&A, spending time answering your children’s questions, and getting them to answer their own Bible questions.  Then thirdly, by getting them to read books that will encourage the development of biblical faith. 

Chapter 6 is all about applying the rest of Deuteronomy 6:7 and how we live the Word at home.  Baucham lists 3 phases.  Phase 1 is the discipline phase, the key aim of this phase is that children are taught to obey their parents, this means that they ‘do what they are told, when they are told, with a respectful attitude.  Phase 2 is the catechism phase.  “The goal of catechism is to impart biblical theology.  Through a series of questions and answers the child slowly learns what to believe and, more importantly, why.”  Then phase 3 is the discipleship phase which is about teaching children what to do with what they have learnt.  “Discipleship is the application of what we believe.  If our children do not know what we believe or why we believe it, they will have difficult time understanding why one lifestyle choice is superior to another.”  At this point Baucham, discusses the part education plays in discipleship making the point that state education ‘detracts rather than contributes to discipleship…limits the time we have to make disciples…does not teach a biblical worldview…does not teach them to love, know and obey God.’  For him this is a good argument for Christian parents to home school their children rather than send them to state schools. 

In Chapter 7 Baucham looks at some of the ways in which we can put Deuteronomy 6:9 into practice.  Ideas include have pictures and photo’s up which would direct their focus to God, playing songs of the faith in the home, have a special meal on Sundays.  But the prime way is family worship. 

Then in chapter 8, a warning is given about the pull of prosperity and how that can draw families away from God, and parents away from their all-important of raising their kids.  “God is not against your having things.  He is, however, against things having you.”   One of the concerns that Baucham has that both parents work fulltime not because they need to provide the essentials of life but so that they can be more prosperous and the effect this has on the raising of their children.  

On the whole everything Baucham says in chapter 1-8 I would agree with and is very helpful.  I appreciate his passion for parents taking responsibility for bringing their children up.  I like the biblical definition of love that he gives.  I agree that it is important for children to be taught a biblical worldview, and I think that he gives some helpful suggestions as to how this can be done.  One thing I thought was missing was a discussion about whether we are to understand the passage in Deuteronomy 6 differently now that we are living under the New Covenant.   Eric Lane explains in his book Special Children? that under the Old Covenant (when Deuteronomy 6 was written), children were brought up to live in a covenant community, whereas today, they are brought up under the New Covenant to live in the world.  I think this plays a part in thinking about the arguments for homeschooling (although like Baucham I am a home school dad!) 

In the final two chapters, the subject moves from the home to the church.  

In chapter 9 the question is asked: ‘If the Bible clearly gives parents the responsibility of discipling their children, what role does the church play in the process?’  This leads him to question the need for churches to have a youth ministry for three reasons.  1) There is no clear biblical mandate for it.  2) It can damage family dynamics as split the family up at church.  3) In America it does seem to be working (referring back to what he said in chapter 1).  Much of this is a reaction against parents who instead of discipling their children themselves, hand them over to the youth ministry to do this for them.  Baucham however, does except that the strongest argument for having a youth ministry is providing for kids who don’t have Christian parents although he would rather they be in church noting that “When kids are disciple and integrated into the Christian community, they tend to remain in the fold.”  

In chapter 10, Baucham then outlines that alternative way of doing church without the youth ministry which is the ‘family integrated church’.  The distinctives of a family integrated churches are that families worship together; there are no age-specific groups; evangelism and discipleship is done through the homes with men being held accountable for this; and the majority of parents home school.  The motivation behind these features is a keen desire to promote a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education, and biblically qualified leadership. 

Once again I agree with much of what Baucham is saying.  I think his principles and motivation for saying what he does is spot on.  That said, I don’t agree fully with his application!  I believe that a youth (and kids) ministry can play an important function in working with and supporting parents as they seek with God’s help to raise their children.  I too, believe that it is important for families to worship together.  Three ways that the church I work for has tried to cultivate this is by firstly, having no age specific groups for children over 11 at the same time as our church services.  Secondly, having a family service once a month (and school holidays) when there is no children groups during the service.  Thirdly, by creating a culture where families sit together.  In addition I also believe that a biblical view of marriage and the family, family worship and discipleship, Christian education and biblically qualified leadership can be promoted without adopting the family integrated approach to doing church. 

To sum up: Family Driven Faith was a helpful and thought-provoking read.  I’d recommend that parents and church leaders get a copy to read and think through what is said, even if they don’t agree with everything Baucham says (homeschooling and family integrated church with no youth ministry I think will be probably the two biggest areas of disagreement that some may have).  Thank you Voddie Baucham Jr. for reminding me again about the need to do what it takes to raise children who walk with God. 

Family Driven Faith is available to buy HERE

For more to with Family Driven Faith, check out Voddie Baucham’s website HERE.

Is There a Future for Israel?

Thought this from Russell Moore was helpful…

All Christians everywhere believe in a future for Israel.

Where Christians disagree is on is exactly who Israel is.

Dispensationalists insist that Romans 9-11 reaffirms the OT covenant promises to Abraham’s genetic descendants-promises of a rebuilt temple, a restored theocracy, and reclaimed geography. For dispensational premillennialists, this is a primary purpose of the Millennium-ethnic Israel is reconstituted as a political state and serves as a mediator of God’s blessings to the rest of the nations. Some dispensationalists further argue that this future for Israel demands current support for Israeli claims to all of what once was Canaan-along with virtual carte blanche support for Israeli policies since “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse” (Gen 12:3).

Covenant theologians argue that the future restoration of Israel will be fulfilled-but fulfilled in the church, a largely Gentile body that has “replaced” the Jewish theocracy since the nation rejected her Messiah at Jesus’ first advent. Covenant theology then (quite wrongly) sees great continuity between Old Testament Israel and the new covenant church-both are mixed bodies of regenerate and unregenerate members (believers and their children), and the sign of circumcision is replaced with the sign of baptism (and, like circumcision applied to new converts and to covenant children).

Both covenant theology and dispensationalism, however, often discuss Israel and the church without taking into account the Christocentric nature of biblical eschatology. The future restoration of Israel has never been promised to the unfaithful, unregenerate members of the nation (John 3:3-10; Rom 2:25-29)-only to the faithful remnant.

The church is not Israel, at least not in a direct, unmediated sense. The remnant of Israel-a biological descendant of Abraham, a circumcised Jewish firstborn son who is approved of by God for his obedience to the covenant-receives all of the promises due to him.

Israel is Jesus of Nazareth, who, as promised to Israel, is raised from the dead and marked out with the Spirit (Ezek 37:13-14; Rom 1:2-4). All the promises of God “find their Yes in him” (2 Cor 1:20), as Paul puts it, and this yes establishes a Jew like Paul with Gentiles like the Corinthians “in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor 1:21-22). The Spirit guarantees what? It guarantees that all who share the Spirit of Christ are “joint heirs with Christ” of his promised inheritance (Rom 8:17 NKJV).

This is the radical nature of the gospel in the New Testament. Dispensationalists are right that only ethnic Jews receive the promised future restoration, but Paul makes clear that the “seed of Abraham” is singular, not plural (Gal 3:16). Only the circumcised can inherit the promised future for Israel. All believers-Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female-are forensically Jewish firstborn sons of God (Gal 3:28). They are in Christ. Circumcision is not irrelevant. Instead, both Jews and Gentiles in Christ are “the circumcision” because they have “the circumcision of Christ” (Col 2:11-12).

In Christ, I inherit all the promises due to Abraham’s offspring because I am “hidden” in Abraham’s promised offspring so that everything that is true of him is true of me. As Paul puts it, “Christ is all and in all” (Col 3:11). It is not that God changes his mind about a rebuilt Temple. He fulfills it-in the temple of Christ’s body, a temple Jesus builds with living stones.

The future of Israel then does belong to Gentile believers but only because they are in union with a Jewish Messiah. Paul speaks of a future conversion of Jewish people but he is careful to denote this salvation as the growth of a single olive vine with a Jewish root-with a grafting on now of Gentiles and a future grafting on of more Jews. The church, as Israel was promised, does now “bear fruit”-the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5)-but it does so only because Jesus is the vine of Israel. We share his inheritance because we are the branches, united to him by faith (John 15:1-11).

Is there a future for Israel? Yes. Does this future mean material and political blessings? Yes. Does this future mean the granting of all the land promised to Abraham in Canaan? Yes, along with the entire rest of the cosmos (Rom 4:13). Does this promise apply to ethnic Jews? Yes, one ethnic Jew whose name is Jesus. Do Gentile believers share in this inheritance? Yes, if they are in Christ, one-flesh with him through faith (Eph 5:22-33), they receive the inheritance that belongs to him (Eph 1:11).

What does the Bible say about children and young people?

Here are some notes I made on what the Bible says about children and young people: 

1. It is not clear as to when childhood finishes and adulthood begins.   

Leviticus 27:3-5 suggests that a person ceases to be considered a child/young person at the age of 20. 

2. Children are the fulfilment of the creation mandate to be fruitful and to multiply. 

The command to be fruitful and multiply was given both to Adam at creation (Genesis 1:28) and Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:1).  Children are necessary if this command was to be obeyed. 

3. Children are a gift from God and a sign of God’s blessing.   

In the book of Genesis it clear that children are a gift from God.  The theme of a barren woman miraculously being able to conceive runs throughout the book.  Eve with God’s help gave birth to Cain (Genesis 4:1).  Abram recognises that God has given him no children (Genesis 15:2-3).  Rachel speaking after the birth of Dan said that God has given her a child (Genesis 30:1).  Jacob says of his children that they are a gracious gift from God (Genesis 33:5).  

Elsewhere in the Bible we are reminded that children are a sign of God’s blessing or a reward from Him.  In Psalm 127:3 we read that children (sons) are a heritage or reward from the Lord.  In Zechariah 8:5 a sign of God’s blessing is that children are playing in the streets. 

Whilst the birth of a child and the happiness of children is a sign of God’s blessing, the death of a child is an indication of a calamity or the worse of curses to an enemy.  The prophet Nahum prophesying about the fall of Nineveh, God’s enemy, speaks of infants being dashed to pieces (Nahum 3:10).  Psalm 137:8-9 speaks of the death of Babylonian children. 

4. Children are valued before they are born.   

God can relate to and deal with a person from the moment of conception (and before).  In Psalm 139:13 we are told that God knits a person together in their mother’s womb.  In Job 31:15 tells us that God made him in the womb. 

5. Children are valued as much as any other age group.   

God is a God of all human ages including children.  In the gospels we read that Jesus healed children (Jairus’ daughter in Mark 5, boy with an evil spirit in Mark 9), Jesus invited children to come to Him (Matthew 19:13-15), and Jesus knows about the lives of children (Matthew 11:16-19 or Luke 7:31-35). 

6. Children have a sinful nature. 

For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and facing God’s wrath, his righteous anger (Ephesians 2:3).  All includes children and adults alike.  Psalm 51:5 tells us that children are sinful from the time of conception. 

7. Children are immature. 

This is implied in a number of passages where the immaturity of childhood is used to illustrate Christian immaturity.  In Ephesians 4:14, Paul talks of becoming mature as a Christian as being no longer infants.  In 1 Corinthians 14:20 Paul urges the Corinthians to stop thinking like children but to start thinking like adults.  Leaving childish ways behind is a sign of adulthood (1 Corinthians 13:11).  In Hebrews 5:12-13 a baby on milk is used to describe an immature Christian who has not grown up and made spiritual progress in understanding God’s Word. 

8. Children are dependent.   

In Matthew 18:3-4 (or Mark 10:13-16) Jesus tells the disciples that they are to become like little children if they want to enter the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus was telling them that the helplessness and dependence that children have is what He is looking for in His disciples. 

9. Children become accountable.   

Children are held accountable as sinners from time of conception (Psalm 51:5).  But the Bible does teach that there is a time when children are not held responsible for the choices they make.  For example Deuteronomy 1:39 we read of the Israelite children that they “do not yet know good from bad” and because of that they are allowed to enter the promised land.  In Isaiah 7:15-16 we are told that there is a time when the boy (child) does not know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right.   

As children grow up and mature their understanding of right and wrong and ability to make decisions increases, so they become more and more accountable. 

10. Children are part of the community of God’s people. (see Ian Fry, ‘What is Christian Youthwork?’ in FAQs published by The Good Book Company.  p.12-13)

It seems that whenever the people of God gathered for corporate worship, the children and young people were present.  Children were present whenever the Passover occurred (Exodus 12:26-27), when Israel entered into God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 29:10-15), at feast times (Deuteronomy 31:10-12), when the covenant was renewed at Mount Ebal (Joshua 8:35), and at times of seeking God (2 Chronicles 20:5-13).  It was expected that acts of corporate worship would arouse interest of, and provoke questioning by children (Exodus 13:11-14). 

This pattern seems to be present in the early church.  When Paul wrote letters to the churches, he had instructions for children to follow (Ephesians 6:1-3 and Colossians 3:20).  He must have expected them to be present as his letter was read out. 

11. God does great things with young people. (see HERE)   

There are so many examples of God using young people to do great things for Him.  Youth was a time for service and heroism.  

Old Testament examples include Joshua who was Moses’ assistant since youth (Numbers 11:28).  The spies who investigated Jericho were young men (Joshua 6:23).  Jeremiah was called to be a prophet when he was a child (Jeremiah 1:5-7).  David was only a boy when he fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17:33).  Other examples are Joseph, Samuel, Samson, Joash, Josiah, Daniel and Esther. 

In the New Testament we have Paul’s nephew who warned him about a plot on his life (Acts 23:16-22) or the unnamed boy with the loaves and fish that Jesus used to feed the five thousand men plus women and children (John 6:9). 

12. Children must learn to love and fear the Lord.   

In Deuteronomy 6:2 we read that commands, decrees and laws were given by God to Moses to pass on to the Israelites so that they, their children and their children’s children may fear God.  In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 the command is to love God with all your heart, soul and strength.  This is to be on the parent’s hearts but also to be impressed upon their children. 

13. Children are to be told God’s Words and God’s Works so that they will trust in Him. 

In Psalm 78:4-7 parents were told to pass on God’s works (his praiseworthy deeds, v4) and God’s Words (statutes, law, v5), to teach these to their children so that would put their trust in God and keep his commands. 

14. Children need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved. 

Acts 2:21 or Romans 10:13 tells us that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  Romans 10:9 says that if you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  This applies to children as we as adults.  They need to trust in Jesus as their Lord and Saviour to be saved from an eternity in hell separated from God. 

15. God says the prime responsibility for the spiritual nurture of children and young people lies with the parents. 

God places people in families, and the family relationship is important (Exodus 20:12, Ephesians 6:1-3, Colossians 3:20).  Proverbs 1:8 tells us that it is both parents responsibility to pass on God’s truth.  The prime responsibility however falls to the father (Ephesians 6:4; this idea is found throughout Proverbs 1-9).  Timothy is an example of the positive impact a godly home can have on a person (2 Timothy 1:5).  

16. Parents are responsible for teaching and modelling God’s truth to their children. 

God chose Abraham to direct his children and his household to keep the way of the Lord by what is right and just (Genesis 18:19).  Fathers are to bring their children up in the training and instruction of the LORD.  Timothy was taught the Bible by his grandmother and mother from a young age (2 Timothy 3:15). 

17. Parents are responsible for disciplining their children as well as encouraging them. 

Children are born with evil inclinations (Ecclesiastes 12:1) so they not only need teaching but corrective, loving discipline (Proverbs 22:15).  Parents are responsible for disciplining their children (Proverbs 29:17).  Discipline is a sign that parents love their children because they want them to escape death and find life (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18).  The command to discipline is given to fathers in Ephesians 6:4 [‘training' is more literally translated ‘discipline']. 

Encouragement is important too.  Colossians 3:21 tell fathers not emitter their child because they will become discouraged.