A recent seminary assignment challenged me to think of the 10 truths that I want to teach my children. Typically, my answer would simply be the GOSPEL, but the assignment made me think more deeply about all that is encapsulated in that word and how I would break it down for my daughters.

The assignment was valuable because it challenged me to define what I believe and get intentional about how I will impress those truths on my children. Here is the list I came up with:

Top 10 Truths to Teach My Children

1. God is Sovereign
Genesis 1, Psalm 103:19, Proverbs 16:4, Isaiah 14; 45
We want our children to know God as supreme creator over all things. We want them to see that He is God and we are not. This must be taught in conjunction with the attributes of God to help them understand the goodness of His sovereignty.

2. God is unchanging and faithful
Hebrews 13:8, Malachi 3:6, Deuteronomy 7:9, 2 Timothy 2:13
We want our children to know that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same power that we see on display throughout the Bible is in existence today. In the same way, God’s promises always remain true. The promises He has made will always come to fruition. We can trust God’s character and His promises.

3. Sin affects every aspect of my life and your life
Romans 3:23; 5:12; 6:23, Jeremiah 17:9
We want our children to know their depravity and the consequences of sin. We want to be open as parents about our struggle with sin and gratefulness for Christ. We want to set an example of repentance and dependence on Christ for any hope of change.

4. God’s Law shows us our sinfulness and how great our need is for Jesus
Romans 6:23, James 2:10, Romans 7:7, Galatians 3:19-24
We want our children to know that, while we strive to be obedient, we will never be able to obey God’s Law perfectly. The Law only reveals sin and condemns. At the same time, we want our children to see the hope that God graciously provides through Jesus—our salvation.

5. Jesus died in our place to give us the life we never deserved.
John 3:16, Ephesians 2, Titus 3:5, Galatians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 5:21
We want our children to see that Jesus was fully God and fully man, that He faced temptation yet lived a life of perfect obedience, and that He died a sinner’s death in our place so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God! We want our children to know this was an act of God’s grace, a demonstration of His love, and not based on anything we could do to save ourselves.

6. Belief in Jesus means we are adopted as God’s children and now live as a new creation
Ephesians 1, Galatians 4:1-5, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21, 1 John 3:1
We want our children to know what it means to fully believe in who Jesus is and what He has done for us. We want them to know that this faith in the finished work of Christ is the sole source of salvation and it means that we live as a new creation—forgiven, adopted, and called out to live as children of God.

7. The Holy Spirit helps believers to grow more and more like Christ.
John 14:26, Romans 8:26, Galatians 5:22-23
We want our children to know who the Holy Spirit is and how He helps us to grow as Christians. We want our children to know the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in believers to make us more like Christ. We want them to seek out friends and future mates that are walking with Christ and show the fruit of the Spirit.

8. God’s Word is true and contains all we need for growing in our faith
Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Psalm 119
We want our children to cherish God’s Word and be disciplined in reading it, memorizing it, and applying it to their lives. We want them to see Scripture as sufficient for all issues of life in every season of life. We want to demonstrate a love for God’s Word that our children can emulate.

9. God has given us the Church where we can worship, serve, and grow with other believers.
Acts 2:42, 1 Corinthians 12, Matthew 28:19, Matthew 26:26-28
We want our children to know their gifting and their role in the body of Christ. We want them to be a part of a local body of believers to worship, serve, and grow. We also want them understand Baptism and Communion as part of a believer’s obedience and remembrance of Christ and how each of these sacraments fit into the life of the Church.

10. Jesus is coming back again to complete His work of redemption and restoration
Matthew 24:14, Romans 16:19-20, 1 Peter 3:10-13
We want our children to know that Jesus’ redemptive work is not yet complete but will be made complete when he returns. At that time, He will eternally destroy sin, restore creation to God’s design, and give us new glorified bodies to worship Him eternally.

What truths would you put in your top 10?
How will you be intentional about passing those truths on to your children?

I had an experience yesterday that reminded me of the beauty and the power of having a mentor. By mentor, I mean someone who is older or more experienced to speak encouragement and training over you–like the relationship between Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi.

I had stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few supplies for our ministry. As I stood in the office supply aisle, I overheard a conversation between two Wal-Mart employees about 15 feet away. The first employee was a young man, probably early 20s. The second employee was a woman in her 60s or 70s.

As I walked up, I could tell that the young man was talking about a job interview he had recently. I wasn’t sure if it was for a role at the store or elsewhere, but he was sharing very openly about it with the woman. He ended his comment by saying, “I’m just not sure what I should do.”

This is when the conversation got amazing and I didn’t even care if they knew I was listening.

The woman asked if she could share some advice. She proceeded to share about a few times in her life when she was faced with difficult decisions and how she prayed and sought the Lord in those times. She talked about following Christ in obedience even when it was hard. She encouraged him to keep praying and to keep trusting that God was good and in control no matter what.

Her words were as sweet as honey. I glanced over a time or two and could see the young man just soaking in the encouragement this wise woman was pouring over him. He continued to stock shelves but his entire countenance changed. It reminded me why we all need a mentor to share what God has given to them and speak into our lives when we need it the most.

As I continued to shop and process the conversation, I jotted down a few questions to ponder:

  • How can I thank those mentors who have invested in my life over the years?
  • How can I continue to seek out the advice of a mentor in ministry and in life?
  • Who can I encourage and offer the wisdom (limited as it may be) God has shown me?

Last semester, I started reading several books by Charles Spurgeon and became captivated by one statement he made regarding children. I’ve repeated this statement so many times since reading it, and I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how it impacts our children’s ministry.

Maybe it was just the right words at the right time, but I’ve labeled this statement as the greatest advice for children’s ministry leaders. Charles Spurgeon says,

“Be sure, whatever you leave out, that you teach the children the three R’s, –
Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.”

This concise statement calls our focus back to the Gospel. As children’s ministry leaders, we can get lost in the busyness of curriculum, volunteers, and buckets of goldfish crackers. We fret and sweat throughout the week trying to find the perfect game or video that will keep the kids attention and put our lesson over the top. While those things are certainly important, I’ll admit that they’ve often made me miss this simple truth:

These children need the Gospel.

They are fallen, sinful creatures just like you and me. They have no means of saving themselves from the immediate and eternal consequences of sin. They need to hear of Christ and Him crucified. They need to hear how to believe in the saving work of Jesus. And they need to understand how to walk in the salvation that God has graciously provided through Christ!

Don’t get me wrong, I want them to have fun. I want them to be engaged and enjoy the lesson we’re teaching. But most importantly, I want them to walk away with a clearer picture of the three R’s—Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration. Without the Gospel, our investment is a waste of time.

Whatever you’re planning for this Sunday—stop and ask this question:

Does this lesson help kids to see the truth of the Gospel—ruin, redemption, and regeneration?

Wrestle with that question. Spend time making sure that kids are getting a clear explanation of the Gospel and a chance to respond to God. Just be sure, whatever you leave out, that you teach the children the three R’s, – Ruin, Redemption, and Regeneration.

This has been the greatest advice anyone has ever given to me as a Children’s Pastor.

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ETCH Family Ministry Conference started with a lot of laughs. Dustin Nickerson killed his set and managed to upset all dog lovers, cross-fitters, and hawkers of essential oils! The whole room—which was packed wall to wall—was rolling with laughter.

After worshiping with the Stephen Cole Band, Eric Geiger came to the stage to talk about the important of equipping. He read Ephesians 4:11-13 and reminded the audience that we are all called to EQUIP the saints for the work of the ministry. This is comes with the promise that we will all “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,”

To illustrate the importance of equipping, Geiger pointed to Joshua 1 where Moses has passed away and immediately the ministry is handed over to Joshua. When we reach Judges 2 and Joshua dies, the Bible says all whole generation did not know the Lord or the works He had done. The lack of equipping left no succession for Joshua. Imagine all the glorious thoughts and stories that were forgotten in just one generation. Equipping is important.

As pastors, we need to be careful to avoid ministry idolatry. We can fall into the trap of living for the approval of others, but this will never bring satisfaction. I loved the way Eric ended his talk with the truth that we need to be more concerned with what God is doing in us than what He ever does through us.

Here are a few more notes I captured during Eric’s talk:

  • “We think we personally need to be the hero for every kid. This is fruitless and unbiblical.”
  • “We are called to be equippers, not entertainers. Equippers prepare, entertainers perform.”
  • “We need a conviction for equipping. If you can’t imagine your ministry without something then you’ve found your conviction.”
  • “Ministry idolatry is building a system around yourself for yourself.”
  • “Sunday School teachers have the same Holy Spirit as you!”