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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Great Family Adventure

As our church prepares to enter I John, we've developed our children's curriculum to follow through the text with us. Therefore, during Children's Church, our kids will be learning from the same passage as the adults. Hopefully, this will make the "What did you learn in church today?" discussion a little easier.

Along with the curriculum, we also developed a page, called "Table Talk" for fathers to take home and use with their children. The concept is that during four occasions of the week (typically meals) a family can discuss the text from the sermon (and their children's church). A time of worship with the family is a beautiful thing, but it can take an unusual shape, so I thought I'd give a Wright family status report.

Table Talk: Day One

To be honest, I have not been good at teaching my family. On an Ephesians 6:4 scale, I tend to dish out a lot of discipline but have often neglected the instruction. I'm not sure what to expect, but I head toward our lunch table, Bible in one hand and "Table Talk" in the other.

We start with me explaining what we are going to do (which God graciously allowed my children to be excited about), and tell them that anytime we open the Bible we should first ask God to help the Bible make sense for us. Rachel prays first; a very sweet prayer to God, thanking Him for giving us the Bible and asking Him to open our eyes. Zeke followed with a very staccato-style prayer to God. He basically reiterates everything I said about prayer...almost verbatim (I guess he is listening). Karis closes our time in prayer...honestly, quite a bit of babbling that doesn't really make sense, but it is so sweet to hear her say "Jesus."

I'm feeling good. I open my Bible to John 15:12-17 (the text for the first day) and begin reading. The kids are paying attention and seem to understand the concept of Christ calling us to love. Then, somewhere in the middle of the reading, Zeke notices that he does not have his sippy-cup of choice. Our sweet time of fellowship around the word is interrupted with a high decibel screech for the purple cup (for the dinosaur cup just wouldn't do).

Fortunately, I am not accustomed to such distractions while preaching on Sunday morning, so it took me a while to recover. But, we settled him down, reminded him the proper way to ask for the purple cup, and then proceded into the text. We finished with them grasping some good concepts:

Jesus says we should love each other.
Jesus showed us His love by dying for us.
Because Jesus died for us, we can be His friend.
If we are His friend, we will obey Jesus. (Which means we will obey mommy and daddy...we always have to sneak that one in.)

Table Talk: Day Two

We skipped a day, due to schedule conflicts, and picked up again at dinner last night. I briefly quizzed the kids about our last "Table Talk" and they remembered most of the concepts. We opened again in prayer, and I got the sense the kids tried to duplicate the last time of prayer (since they could tell mommy and I found it special, and probably heard us telling others about it) rather than actually talking to God--proabably a typical issue with children this age.

We continue into John 15, this time covering verses 18-21. At the time I wrote the curriculum, it made perfect sense to me. At the end of John 21 (the text we discussed last Sunday, as introduction to I John), Peter is concerned with John's destiny. Jesus calls him to not worry about John but to follow Jesus instead. It seemed in my preparation that John 15:18-21 was the perfect follow-up from the day before.

Jesus calls us to be His friends and to keep our focus on Him.
There are those in the world who will not be Jesus' friend, and they will tell us not to follow Him.
We should not listen to those people but listen to Jesus instead.

But as I'm reading the text to the kids, I can tell the concept of persecution is a tough one for our five year old, an inconceivable concept for our three year old, and at this point, our two year old is just rubbing the rice and chicken in her hair. This is going to be hard. How do I explain to my children that someone as lovely as Christ is rejected by some? How do I teach them that Christ is precious and explain that most of the world does not see Him that way?

I stumble, stutter, fumble and bumble our way through the text and the questions. We get to the end and I try to regroup.

How can we be Jesus' friend? (They answer, "By loving Him.")

How did Jesus show us He loves us? (They answer, "By dying to take away our sins.")

Does everybody love Jesus? (They answer, "No.")

Should you listen to those people? (They answer, "No," but I can tell they are a bit confused. To be honest, so am I. Deeper questions flood my mind like, "Will they now think they don't need to obey their teacher or a police man if that person is not a Christian? By not listening to them, will they think I'm saying to ignore those who don't love Jesus, rather than evangelizing them? And perhaps the most pressing question: Good grief, the oldest one is five, are the kids even remotely thinking the things I'm worried about?

The kids look about as confused as I am. 1 Peter 4:16 comes to my mind (yes, I actually like the NIV rendering better in this verse...shocker!)
However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.
I try to adjust using their shirts as examples. Both of the older kids are wearing red shirts in preparation for "Patriotic Day" at Awana that evening. I ask them how I can tell they like the color red. Since they are wearing red, I can tell they like red. But if I don't like red, I won't like their shirts. (It appears that they are getting this concept.) So, I try to tie it all together.

How can people tell you love Jesus? (By obeying Him.)

If someone doesn't like Jesus and they see you obey Jesus, they may not like you...but you should keep loving Jesus and be glad someone can tell you do.

Not sure it stuck.

Table Talk Recap

As Charity drives the kids off to Awana and I prepare our house for LIFE Group, I'm left to assess the damage. If the dinner table had been a Sunday morning sermon, it would probably be a good idea to polish my resume. The reading would get interrupted (sometimes by our having to remind our kids to keep eating), some questions received no answer but a blank stare, I started some illustrations only to stop half-way through and redirect. Was this time a success or a failure?

Then I consider what my children have seen. Mommy and Daddy love them. Jesus loves them. Mommy and Daddy love Jesus. Mommy and Daddy love God's Word. These are good things...and I'll count it a success.

And I'll pray the other father's in our church are finding the same reward in their homes.

5 Comments:

  • At 11:09 AM, Blogger Joy said…

    Danny,
    Don't be discouraged. I have been amazed watching Jeremy & Tracy with their kids. They started when Eve & Keith were still pretty small (not that they are big now being only 6 & 4)having a "Family Worship". When they first started, I was skeptical as to how much the kids would really retain. Doesn't matter. It is a growing experience. Just the beginning building blocks. They sing a hymn, the same one for a month, I think and you would not believe the number of hyms these little ones have committed to memory. Do they understand all that they are singing, I am sure they don't but it is just one more building block in their spiritual life. Jeremy reads directly from scripture & then explains things & asks questions. Each day the review what they learned the day before. Taking time out to worship God as a family has become important to all of them. The kids have learned that there is a time to sit quietly and think, talk & sing to God. Anna (2) is following right along with her brother & sister. Her favorite hymn recently was "Up from the Grave". They have left me speechless at times...like the time Keith was camping with us & wanted to sing "Man of Sorrows" as his song before bed! He had to help me with the additional verses! Laura is only 10 months but I am sure, she will be actively participating before we know it.
    I say all that to tell you that you are doing a wonderful thing. While it may not be as eloquent as your Sunday morning sermon, you are following God's command to train your children...actually they come before your congregation in your responsibilty to teach.
    God will bless you & Charity for being faithful.

     
  • At 12:21 PM, Blogger Noel said…

    Danny,
    All I can say is wow. Every time I teach at my Bible study, the same things go through my mind: was that clear, did they understand the concepts, am I wasting their time, etc.
    The simple fact that you did it is awesome. For one who does not do this regularly, it will be awkward at first. Christ asks us to be obedient even if we cannot do something perfectly (ie. evangelism).
    I was wondering how you came up with this program and if Basore could steal the model. One big flaw in our church is that many men do not take a leadership role in church and especially at home. I think that something like this would be excellent to get men on board.
    I hope you are encouraged.

     
  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    joy,

    i'm not discouraged at all! it was a great time.

    noel,

    we're developing the materials ourselves. i am very thankful for a church that sees the necessity of preparation for the pastor and gives me the time needed for study and to produce curriculum.

     
  • At 3:17 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    noel,

    i should have said, if the skipster wants to preach through 1 john, you can have all our stuff. life group questions, children's church lesson plans, follow up table talk lesson for parents.

    it would be our privilege to let you have them.

     
  • At 11:47 AM, Blogger Noel said…

    Thank you very much Danny.

     

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