college travels

Monday, August 31, 2009

God's Good News for Children in Families

No doubt many of you will be aware of the recent death of Graham Wade (http://www.sydneyanglicans.net/news/stories/vale_graham_wade/). Graham was a great friend of the College from the very beginning – involved in producing our first prospectus, promotional video and various other pieces of information about the College, Graham was also an esteemed partner in the grand task of sharing the good news of Jesus with children. Graham was a presenter at our inaugural Theology of Children’s Ministry conference back in and gave a truly inspirational dinner address to the conference in 2007. It’s been an honour to share a first name with this brother and an even greater honour, privilege and joy to share in ministry with him.

It’s fitting then that I’ve been working recently on writing a gospel outline specifically for sharing God’s good news with children as part of a paper to be presented at the forthcoming Theology of Children’s Ministry Conference. Graham Wade taught us to love children enough to share the truth of Jesus with them in a way that they could understand and engage with. This humble attempt is offered in honour of his example and service.

So... the conference is a month away, so if you have any feedback for me I’d love to hear from you!

Begin with the character and power of God

There are so many good things in the world to enjoy – sky and sea, plants and animals, families and friends. The Bible tells us that God made everything for us to enjoy. God did all this so that we would know that he loves us.

Connecting with the child’s experience of the world– broken relationships with God, each other and the world; and death as the consequence of sin.

Sometimes it doesn’t feel like God is with us. We fight and can be unkind to others and they can be unkind to us. Children as well as adults get sick and die. There is pollution and there are wars in the world

The mission of God

God loves his world and he especially loves every person in the world. The Bible tells us about God’s plan to fix the mess that the world is in.

The formation of a missionary people as central to His plan.

God’s plan is to bring people together into a big family so he can be their friend. God helps his friends to work together with him to love and care for his world too.

Sin and its consequences

The Bible says that when people don’t listen to God we end up making a mess of the world and hurting each other. God is against everything that messes up his world.

God’s judgement on the world and his reason for this

When things in the world are painful for us God wants us to ask him for help. God wants us to listen to him. God wants to help us be kind to others and care for his world.

The accomplishment of God’s mission in Christ’s birth...

God the Father sent his Son Jesus to be born as a human baby and to grow up like us. Jesus always listened to God and was always kind to others.

...death,...

Jesus died so that God could forgive people for not listening to him and messing up the world.

...resurrection and return.

Jesus didn’t stay dead. He is alive again. One day Jesus will come back to make a new world for all of God’s friends.

Jesus’ provision of the Holy Spirit for the initiation of salvation in repentance and faith.

Jesus gives God’s friends the Holy Spirit so they can listen to God and trust his promise of forgiveness.

God’s provision of the Holy Spirit for the continuation of salvation

The Holy Spirit helps us love others and care for his world.

God’s provision of families for the nurture and instruction of children

God gives us families to help us listen to God and follow Jesus. Our families can listen to God by reading the Bible together. We can talk to God by praying together.

God’s provision of the church

God also gives us a church family with brothers and sisters from lots of different families. The church family helps each other listen to God and follow Jesus.

A response prayer – intentionally a prayer that can be prayed repeatedly rather than a once off prayer of initial commitment

You and your family could pray the prayer on the next page to speak to God, to thank God and ask him to help you love others and care for his world:

Dear God; Thank you that you love the whole world. Thank you for sending Jesus your Son to forgive us and make us your friends. We are sorry for not listening to you, for hurting others and making a mess of the world. Thank you for giving us your Holy Spirit to help us listen to you and follow Jesus. Please help our family and our church family love others and care for your world. Jesus, please come back soon. Amen.

5 Comments:

  • Hey Deano,

    I'm looking forward to the conference!

    Seems like a fairly good outline. Covers all aspects. Is totally loaded with deep concepts and thoughts. Sandy Galea wouldn't be impressed, because i'm not sure it has 1 main point.

    Also, it could just be me, but not sure if our need for salvation is crystal clear. Having the order as i) The child's experience of the broken world, ii) mission of God iii) The formation of a people THEN iv) Sin and consequences and v) judgement; could take away from a sense of participation in the breaking and being judged; and therefore a personal need for saving.

    I love that it involves families and their role in this and need to accept it also. But again I feel it lessens the feeling that the child has participated in the breaking and being judged. Also, my experience of family has been far from a place of nuture and instruction in the way of the Lord.

    Cheers,

    Swanny

    By Anonymous Peter Swann, at 9:38 am  

  • Thanks Swanny - the rest of the paper gives some justification for how the outline has ended up. I'm questionning whether our focus on our 'personal need for saving' has individualised and privatised the Christian life unhelpfully; hence putting more emphasis on God's mission. I'm also thinking about what a child really needs to understand about Jesus to make a real response to him as a child, while recognising that they will need further discipling and instruction both once they have made a personal commitment to Christ, and once they have grown into adolescents and adults.

    At one stage I had two versions of the outline - one for kids from Christian families, and one for those who weren't. Perhaps two are needed... let's talk more at the conference. But I also was thinking that this sort of outline, if it's given to a kid at Scripture or kids club, will be evangelising their parents/carers as well. The fact is (imho) families are responsible before God for nurture and instruction in the way of the Lord; and our job as Children's ministers is to respect and encourage this responsibility, never to ignore or undermine it, even for non-believing families. Which doesn't mean you just pretend that all is well at home, but to always exercise our responsibility as servants of the family, recognising that sometimes the servants need to make up for a lot of omissions in the master's life.

    Thanks for your thoughts - looking forward to the conference as well.

    By Blogger Graham Stanton, at 7:41 pm  

  • Deano,

    I like it, but developmentally children are egocentric and would struggle to do this. High schoolers start to develop an ability to think like this. Or is one of those ways where we should be striving to be counter-cultural?

    Swanny

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:06 pm  

  • Thanks for your thoughts Swanny - I'll need to go back and read up on what egocentricity means for a child. I had thought a child's egocentricity more about an inability to comprehend another person's point of view, or that another person would have a different perspective or opinion on something, rather than needing to be the centre of attention?

    By Blogger Graham Stanton, at 9:35 pm  

  • Thanks for your thoughts Swanny - I'll need to go back and read up on what egocentricity means for a child. I had thought a child's egocentricity more about an inability to comprehend another person's point of view, or that another person would have a different perspective or opinion on something, rather than needing to be the centre of attention?

    By Blogger Graham Stanton, at 9:35 pm  

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