Teaching Christian Kids about Gender and Racial Issues

Parents need the support of the church more than ever today. When children go to public school, they especially need the church to back up good teaching.

When I was in high school evolution was the big problem. Textbooks taught evolution as if it were fact. In most museums and national parks today, the idea that the world is billions of years old is automatically assumed. Students can get the idea that their parents and teachers believe what the Bible teaches, but scientists know better. They sometimes think scientists have proven evolution as a scientific face and the earth has to be billions of years old. While this is far from true, the teaching they receive in schools can make them doubt the truth of the Bible. Churches can help students have faith in God and his Word when they teach creation in a way that shows the credibility of the Bible.

In my last blog I talked about a common problem Christian parents have in New Zealand. Maori, the native people of New Zealand, have many ancestral stories which talk about their gods and the part they supposedly played in creation and other parts in life. The public schools use these stories to teach respect for the Maori culture. Since these stories often contradict the Bible, they can undermine Bible teaching that students get at church.

Gender Identity

Gender identity is another big issue parents face today. Public schools in New Zealand may soon be forced to teach curriculum that actively teaches that gender stereotypes are harmful and students should be able to choose their gender identity. Even now our church parents say their children are being taught these things at in school or bringing home library books that normalize having two daddies or two mommies.

These dangerous ideas are beginning to be taught to children as young as five:

  • Gender identity as male, female, both or neither is determined by a person’s feelings
  • A person is sexual from birth
  • The proper time to begin sexual activity is whenever one is ready
  • If you speak out against people being able to change their gender at will, you’re guilty of hate speech

At this time, not every public school is teaching all of these things, but curriculum has been developed for public school use that teaches these things. These are the kinds of ideas students are now hearing at school at a very young age. Find out more here.

If we say and do nothing about these things our children will hear, they may decide that teachers a school are better educated than their parents and thus know the “real scientific truth” about them. Several parents in our church have brought these gender issues to my attention because of teaching or library books their children have brought home. This has shown me I need to address these issues in Discovery Club.

There are several dangers in addressing gender issues like this. If I say too much about it, I may actually spark an unhealthy amount of interest in the subject. If I say nothing, my students may believe wrong teaching or think it doesn’t matter. Without guiding students’ responses to students who struggle with gender identity, I could trigger arrogance, insensitivity, or disrespectful remarks in them.

Racial Equality

Racial Issues are also becoming prominent in today’s world. Some children live in an area with great racial diversity. Others live in areas with very little diversity. All need to know what God says about on the topic. When teaching small children, it’s probably not wise to dig into historical wrongs and how to make them right. But clear Biblical teaching can give children a strong foundation to build their worldview on. These are things we can clearly teach:

  • All people come from one blood. Share the same ancestors, Adam and Eve and Noah and his wife. All belong to the human race. Acts 17:24 – 26.
  • Nationalities developed different skin colors and physical characteristics as different people groups settled in different areas of the world. Genesis 11:1-9.
  • Just as men and women are equal in Christ, so are the various nationalities. Galatians 3:28
  • All cultures have positive elements to their culture as well as negative, sinful ones. We need to judge cultural ideas by the Bible. Many cultural differences are not right or wrong, they are just different.
  • We can all learn from others. Very early in the church we see diversity. The Ethiopian treasurer (a man of high rank in Acts 8) and Simeon who was called Niger (a prophet or teacher in Acts 13:1) were probably black men.

Who Am I? – Lesson Plan to Teach about these Issues

I don’t plan to teach a whole lesson centered around gender identity. Instead I want to talk about our identity in Christ. In that way gender identity doesn’t become too big. It’s just one aspect of who we are. Racial equality also fits nicely into the topic.

Here’s a brief outline that you can use to teach about our identity in Christ and how to deal with others of different opinions.

  1. God created people in his image. Genesis 1:27-31

Because of that people are like God in these ways:

  • They live forever somewhere.
  • They can reason, figure things out to a high degree, make decisions.
  • They can create ideas and use them in art, literature, music, and science.
  • They know the difference between right and wrong and can make moral choices.
  • They communicate with each other on a very high social level.

God created people to be either male or female.

  • They would be the mothers and fathers that would bear children and fill the earth.
  • They would take care of the plants and animals around them.
  • They would form families to take care of each other.
  • God’s creation of people in this way was very good.

God planned for people to be scattered over the earth and develop physical characteristics as a people group like skin color and facial structure.

  • All people come from one blood. Share the same ancestors, Adam and Eve and Noah and his wife. All belong to the human race. Acts 17:24 – 26.
  • Nationalities developed different skin colors and physical characteristics as different people groups settled in different areas of the world. Genesis 11:1-9.
  • He wanted all people to come to salvation. Matthew 28:19, 20; 2 Peter 3:9.
  • All people are equal in Christ. Galatians 3:28.
  • We can all learn from others. Very early in the church we see diversity. The Ethiopian treasurer (a man of high rank in Acts 8) and Simeon who was called Niger (a prophet or teacher in Acts 13:1) were probably black men.
  1. God planned out your life before you were born. Psalm 139: 13-16
  • He planned out everything that would happen to you before you were born.
  • He helped form you in your mother’s body from the moment your life began inside of her.
  • He made you to be a boy or girl, and choose how you would look and what you would be like.
  • You weren’t born in the wrong body. God doesn’t make mistakes.
  • He put you in the right family, the right country, to have the right nationality.
  • He is giving you the right opportunities to develop skills and abilities you need.
  • No one else can be you. God has a special plan for your life. You need to find his plan and follow it.
  1. Jesus died for your salvation before you were born. Romans 5:6-8
  • You are a sinner because sin entered the world. You do wrong things.
  • Jesus died to provide salvation, but you have to choose to accept his gift.
  • To be your best self, you need to follow God’s will and obey him.
  1. God made you to bring him glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31
  • My main purpose in life should be to bring him glory, not to do what I want.
  1. Every other person was also made in God’s image and is loved by God. John 3:16

 

  1. How should you treat someone who you disagree with, when they are wrong by the Bible? 1 Peter 2:17
  • We should treat every person with respect, no matter who they are.
  • We should never bully anyone.
  • You should treat people with respect, even if they think things that don’t agree with the Bible.

Situation #1 (gender identity):

A friend in your class at school says that he was born a boy, but he feels like he’s in the wrong body. He’s going to identify as a girl now. He wants you to call him a girl and use female pronouns for him.

Treating him these ways would show disrespect:

  • Make fun of him.
  • Tell him you think it’s stupid for him to say he’s a girl.
  • Refuse to call him by his name if he’s chosen a new one.
  • Refuse to play with him.
  • When he’s in your school group project, try to exclude him.

Treating him these ways would show respect:

  • You can be kind to him without agreeing with his decision to do this.
  • When you talk to your friends about him, be kind and point out good things about him.
  • Call him the name he asks to be called, just as you would do for anyone else.
  • If someone asks you, you can say you think God makes us the way we are and we should stay the way we are born. But don’t do this in private in a way that shows you think you are better than him.

Situation #2 (racial diversity):

A new girl becomes part of your class at school. She is a Muslim and wears a hijab (he – JOB or HE-job). You’ve heard that some Muslims have done bad things to Christians. How should you treat her?

Treating her these ways would show disrespect:

  • Make fun of her hijab.
  • Make fun of the way she talks.
  • Exclude her from a game you’re playing during break.
  • Ignore her and walk away.

Treating her these ways would show respect:

  • Be friendly to her.
  • Explain things to her if she doesn’t understand.
  • Include her in a game you’re playing during break.
  • If others don’t want to play with her because she’s a Muslim, you can say that you don’t agree with her religion, but she’s still a nice girl and needs to be included. Think of how you would want someone to treat you if you were far from home, didn’t always understand, and found it hard to join in fun with others.

Situation #3 (evolution):

Your teacher says the earth started billions of years ago with a big explosion. You believe the Bible and think she is wrong.

How you could show her disrespect:

  • Speak up in front of the class and tell her she’s wrong.
  • Tell your friends she’s stupid to believe that.

How you could show her respect:

  • Go to the teacher privately and tell her you know many people believe the things she said, but you’re a Christian and you believe God created the earth like the Bible says.
  • Tell your friends privately the same thing, but show respect for the teacher.

 

A Christian Parent or Teacher’s Response to Maori Creation Stories in the Classroom

I’ve lived in New Zealand for 22 years and one part of the culture here is hard to pin down.

Maori people are the New Zealand natives who have been here for hundreds of years. The Maori culture comes with many stories about creation and other topics that come into their belief system. Europeans began to arrive about a hundred and fifty years ago, bringing Christianity with them. The two cultures have mixed together to become the New Zealand culture we have today. Some people borrow from both belief systems along their spiritual journey. Some don’t believe either one.

About 20 years ago, my husband did a funeral for a baby whose father identified strongly with the Maori culture and whose mother was a member of our church. Because Maori have many funeral traditions, planning the funeral brought us to the marae (Maori meeting place) to work out the details. We were welcomed onto the marae with a ceremony, touched our noses to theirs in the traditional Maori greeting, washed our hands and ate lunch with them there. They sang a Christian song and talked about being inclusive in their religion. But by the time we left we had unknowingly taken part in some traditions that had religious meaning that we had not intended.

In recent years New Zealand has been seeking to integrate the Maori culture and language (Te Reo) into the school system in a stronger way. Some aspects of the Maori culture, such as loyalty to family and community, are good concepts to teach to children. But teaching their ancestral stories to school children comes with some dangers. These stories are contrary to the Christian belief of one true God in heaven Who created all things.

I have known for years that children are taught Maori stories about creation in school. Many times I have asked New Zealanders, “Are these stories taught as fact or legend?” The answer always comes back the same. “The stories are just taught.” Even in early childhood education, children aged three to five may hear some of the Maori stories and learn about Maori “guardians.” How should a Christian parent feel about this? What should they do about it? How can the church prepare children for this?

This year I am planning to teach several sessions of Discovery Club that deal gently with some difficult subjects our children face in public school. We’ll talk about gender identity, race issues, and the what to believe about Maori creation stories. While preparing to teach about Maori stories I’ve given new effort to finding out the answers to these questions:

  • Does the Maori belief system teach their creation stories as fact or as myth?
  • Do Maori actually worship their spirits as gods?

To a Christian from a Western culture, these seem like sensible questions that should have straight-forward answers, but these answers aren’t easy to find. Because I’m dealing with the issue as it relates to students in the public school system, I wanted to find out what schools are expected to teach. I found this very helpful website which helps teachers to include Maori language and culture in their classroom. Their article on the Maori creation story helped answer my questions. I’m not an expert on these things, so I am basing my information on this website.

Are Maori creation stories taught as fact or myth?

In the beginning of my study I thought that surely educated Maori people today don’t really believe that the world was created in the way their stories are told. That Sky Father and Earth Mother separated to allow their children to leave the dark, cramped space they lived in. According to the story, their son Tane, God of the Forest, pushed Earth Mother downward so she would not see Sky Father’s sadness. Tane clothed her in trees and plants. Sky Father was pushed upward and Tane’s sweat from the exertion became the stars.  Another god was so angry that he gouged out his eyes and threw them into the sky to become a star cluster. Maori people might like the story, but surely they don’t consider it to be scientific and factual.

I found the answer in this part of the article:

Examine how you approach the words “Myths” and “Legends”. If you use these words, make sure you understand what you are conveying.

Although the word myth has a dictionary meaning….”a traditional story of historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief or natural phenomenon”, it has become a word used for “unfounded or false notion”.

“Oh, that’s just a myth!”

Please examine your introduction of these whakapapa pūrākau (ancestral stories). I prefer to call them this rather than “Myths and Legends”.

Remember there may be tamariki (young people) in your class who consider these very strong whakapapa (ancestral) links.

As part of colonisation there has been a view that perhaps Māori pūrākau (stories) somehow have less value. ( We know better than that).

 I don’t think I could have understood this answer without my experience as a missionary in Taiwan. As Americans in the 1980’s and 1990’s, we tried to show our unsaved students that the Bible’s view of creation and salvation were right because they were true. Why would you follow a religion or belief that wasn’t true? They were strangely unmoved by that argument. We grew to realize that Chinese culture doesn’t care a lot about absolute truth. Their culture has not come out of a culture that believes or emphasizes absolute truth. They care more about the question “Does it work?” than “Is it true?” They wanted to know if Christianity would help them prosper. That’s what they expected from their gods. If their gods didn’t help them, they would abandon their gods. They also worshipped their gods to fit into their family and community. Some even believed Christianity was true, but wouldn’t follow Christ because of the division it would cause in their family.

Fast forward to our ministry in New Zealand. With my Taiwan background in mind, I interpret the explanation above to mean this: It doesn’t really matter if the Maori stories about their gods are true, factual, or scientifically correct. The ancestral stories are important to the Maori culture and values. So they should not be considered inferior to European stories that are based on Christianity.

Do Maori actually worship their spirits and gods?

 In Taiwan it is easy for us to see how people worshiped their gods and ancestors. On certain days of the lunar calendar our neighbors would set up tables outside their house. They might have a cooked chicken on the table, some fruit and beer on it. They would light incense sticks and maybe burn paper spirit money to the god or ancestor. Sometimes we would see a procession fill a street with worshippers carrying a god from one place to another. Certain holidays filled the temples. It didn’t seem to matter a lot what the worshipers thought or felt as they worshipped, but there was strong pressure from family and community to engage in the visible aspects of worship.

In New Zealand we don’t actually see Maori people worshiping gods in this kind of way. They do have rituals and blessings that are important to them on certain occasions. But if they aren’t actually worshiping false gods, should it matter to Christians if they share their religious stories?

Dangers in teaching Maori creation stories as significant to our lives.

  1. Maori guardians are actually false gods, an important part of Maori beliefs.

 Whether you call them gods, guardians, or atua (ancestors with influence over certain domains,) these stories are about false gods. The stories are similar to gods of Greek mythology and other gods that cultures have invented.

You see from the article that, among the Maori stories “there is considerable diversity among various … versions of the creation story.” While the various versions contradict each other, the story of God’s creation given in the Bible is always the same. Conflicting accounts of an incident can’t all be true. Christians believe, however, that the Bible gives a scientifically accurate, true account of what really happened at the beginning of time on planet earth. Bible history comes from actual events that really happened, not made-up stories.

People in Bible times often believed in false gods whose history came entirely from made-up stories. At times they sacrificed their babies to these gods or engaged in despicable practices like prostitution to appease these gods. In the Old Testament even God’s people, the Hebrews, worshiped these gods. God always condemned the worship of false gods and showed the foolishness of trusting in a made-believe deity. (Isaiah 44:9-20)

  1. Some use Maori stories to influence their lives.

 Note the importance the Te Reo Maori Classroom article gives to the Maori creation story.

 The Māori creation story and its tradition is so strong that it can influence all aspects of life. In this way customs, practices and institutions can become an expression of a culture’s foundation story. The essential elements of the Māori creation narrative influence many aspects of the Māori world view. These practices give us structure and support to live in a way closely aligned with our tīpuna (ancestors).

As Christians, our beliefs, who we are and what we do all need to be based on the Bible. (2 Timothy 3:17-6-17) When we allow other, conflicting beliefs to shape our thinking and decisions, we place ourselves on dangerous ground.

  1. Non-biblical creation accounts rob our Creator God of His rightful glory.

 Take a fresh look at Genesis 1 and 2. In six days our Creator God created everything on earth out of nothing. He created mature plants, animals, and people who were able to reproduce from the beginning. All life on earth today comes from God’s creation some six thousand years ago. Nothing man can do comes close to this original act of creation by God.

When someone takes this incredible act of creation and changes the story to give credit to false gods that don’t even exist, that demeans God and His act of creation.

How can I help my children when they encounter teaching about Maori gods in their classroom?

You could try to have your child taken out of class when these stories are taught. You could complain to the teacher or principal that you don’t like to have these religious beliefs taught during the school day. But if you continue to educate your children in the public school system in New Zealand, you are going to face this issue. Here’s an approach that I believe can help you navigate your way through this situation.

You need to teach your children these things:

  1. The truth about how the world began comes from the Bible.

Maori stories of creation and other stories of this kind are made-up stories. Different stories may share some common ideas but the details vary widely. Since the stories are conflicting, they can’t all be true.

Today’s scientists also continue to offer theories about how the world and its universe came into being. Some scientists today say the earth is estimated to be 4.54 billion years old, plus or minus about 50 million years. Since their dating of the beginning of world changes constantly, by millions of years at a time, you can tell their dating methods are unreliable. Scientists are also constantly changing their theories about how the earth evolved. As new evidence comes to light, the theories constantly change to accommodate the evidence. Many non-Christian scientists readily admit that the theory of evolution has problems and they don’t know how the earth came into existence. Evolutionists have never been able to explain two questions. 1. If the earth is the result of an explosion of very dense matter, where did the first matter came from? 2. Where did the first life come from?

The Bible, on the other hand, teaches the true history of the beginning of the earth. God, the only eye witness to creation, revealed this to man. The Bible is a reliable source of history backed up by historical evidence. The creation details don’t change because the account of creation is true and accurate. For more about the reliability of creation stories from the Bible versus other creation stories see this article.

The Bible gives us the only authoritative truth about how our world began.

  1. Some stories are made-up and aren’t meant to be true.

 The story of the ant and the grasshopper is clearly not true. Ants and grasshoppers don’t talk to each other. In some versions of this story the grasshopper plays the fiddle and dances, which is scientifically impossible. The story is clearly a make-believe one which teaches us a good lesson. In the same way, the Maori creation stories are stories which were made up to explain the beginning of the world. They aren’t scientifically true. They are just stories.

Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Grinch that Stole Christmas are examples of other made-up stories. Of course, if you tell your children that Santa Claus is a true story, at some point you will have to admit you lied about this. Your children may realize they can’t trust your word. I believe Christian parents need to tell the truth from cradle to grave to their children and model a clear distinction between truth and make-believe or falsehood.

  1. Even when we disagree with people, we need to treat them with respect.

When it comes to Maori stories they learn in school, students should be allowed to say to their friends that they believe the stories are make-believe, that the Bible gives the true creation story. They should be allowed to say the same thing to teacher on the side. But it wouldn’t be respectful to speak up in front of the whole class and tell the teacher that the stories are false and they shouldn’t have to study them.

*Special thanks to The Te Reo Maori Classroom website for their helpful article on Maori creation stories.

Here’s a short summary of the Maori creation story.

Living as a Conservative Christian

I am a conservative Christian. You may think you know me, but you might be surprised.

Being a conservative Christian doesn’t make me think that I am better than you.

I’m not a Christian because I am so good. I’m a Christian because I know I can never meet God’s standard on my own. I think and feel and do wrong things. But God has granted me salvation on the basis of Jesus’ death on the cross. Jesus was completely holy and didn’t deserve to die, yet he took my punishment. I’m sinful and don’t deserve God’s mercy, yet I have believed in Jesus as my Savior, so he has given me his righteousness.

Beyond that, being a conservative Christian doesn’t make me better than a more liberal one.  You may be less conservative than me, and yet please God in areas in which I fall short. I may please God in areas you in which you struggle. I don’t look down on you because you are different, but I may disagree with you on some things. We each have to answer to God for what we do. I’m simply trying to do the right thing.

Being conservative doesn’t make me a legalist.

What is a legalist? Many people define a legalist as anyone who is more conservative than they are. At the same time, anyone who is less conservative than they are, is a liberal.

The book of Galatians talks about true legalists. A legalist tries to keep a list of rules in order to gain merit with God. Sometimes legalists try to earn or keep their salvation by keeping this list of rules. Other legalists obey rules to exalt themselves rather than glorify God. Their emphasis is on keeping a list of rules in their own strength, rather than living to please God by the strength of the Holy Spirit.

The late Dr. Myron Houghton said once said:
A distinction should be made between lists and legalism. It is certainly true that believers differ on their lists, and we must evaluate each item on a list in light of relevant Scriptural teaching. But disagreeing with fellow believers over whether or not Scripture supports their lists has nothing to do with legalism! Legalism is related to why one should obey a list rather than to the rightness or wrongness of the list. If people think they gain merit with God by keeping a list [any list!!], they are legalistic!

True freedom is living obediently to Scriptural guidelines in the knowledge that all of our sins have been forgiven because Jesus Christ died and now lives for us. (Romans 5:10) . . . And true liberty does not use itself as an excuse for sinful living (see Galatians 5:13), but rather, recognizes that the grace of God teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and to live soberly, righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:11–15).

We need to be careful who we call “legalists.” Just because someone is more conservative than I am doesn’t make him a legalist. He may have good reasons for his standards. I have no right to call him a legalist just because his rules are stricter than I think they need to be. I can’t see his heart. I don’t know his motives, unless he reveals them to me.

Being conservative doesn’t mean I’m too stubborn to change.

I know Christians who have less strict standards than I have, and some who are more strict. If you are a Christian, I’m glad you are. I don’t hate you because you have come to different conclusions than I have. I may not be able to work with you in certain ways if we can’t agree on some issues that are important to me, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care about you.

The world changes quickly and so does the church. Sometimes I see people change in ways that I don’t feel would be right for me. I’m trying to please God and live the way he wants me to. You may see an issue as a matter of preference, where I may see it as a conviction. Thus you feel free to do something that I do not. That doesn’t make me mean. I’m simply trying to please the Lord in the best way I know how.

Remember, if I feel something is not pleasing to God, yet do it anyway, that is sin. (Romans 14:23) So please don’t push me to do something against my convictions. I’m not just trying to be stubborn.

 Being conservative doesn’t mean I’m a scrapper.

Yes, I know the world, and much of the church, is changing faster than I am. I expect to be different from the world. The Bible tells us to expect that. (1 John 2:15) But sometimes I even struggle to find a place in the church. Much of genuine Christianity would find me hopelessly conservative and I actually grow weary of wearing a legalist label simply because I’m trying to do the right thing. Very small differences sometimes divide the more conservative segment and I feel ostracized from Christians who I would like to consider as friends. Living today as a conservative Christian is not easy. Sometimes I struggle to know how God wants me to do certain things, but I am trying to figure out God’s pattern for me and then live that way.

So you may not agree with me. I may seem hopelessly conservative to you. But please don’t assume that I’m a fighting legalist who thinks I have all the answers, refuses to change, and wants to force you to be like me. I’m actually just an ordinary Christian who is trying to please God in a sinful world.

Unprecedented Opportunities

“Unprecedented” was the foremost adjective for the first half of 2020. And we haven’t even started the second half.

The Covid-19 pandemic moved us to repeat, “I’ve never seen anything like this before” again and again. Around the world people have been locked in quarantine, and restricted in travel. We’ve been required to observe social distancing, record contact tracing, wear masks, and sanitize our hands wherever we went. That’s all new.

Just as some countries have made marked progress in their fight against the virus, George Floyd’s death ignited protests of many kinds along with widespread violence and vandalism. The videos of action related to this event are often tragic and alarming.

These events incite strong and polarizing opinions, cramp our style and frustrate our plans. Yet if all we see are the negatives, we miss a substantial element of God’s work in believers.

While experiences like these may rock our world, God has allowed them for his own purposes. He not only gives Christians the strength to get through these trying times. He gives more. If we will, we can use these events as unprecedented opportunities to shine our light in unusual ways.

How can I shine my light into the darkness? By modeling these qualities:

 Submission to authority.

As I read my Bible, I see God’s command to submit to authority, even when I don’t agree, as long as that authority isn’t asking me to violate God’s standard. (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-2, 1 Peter 2:17)

As a Christian leader, when I submit to the government in something that seems unreasonable or silly to me, I model a biblical principle. Every person on earth is under some kind of authority. Christian leaders are not a law unto themselves. If I pick and choose what rules I want to follow, I’ve missed the opportunity to model submission.  All Christians are under authority of some kind. Submission to any rightful authority over me is part of my submission to God.

Patience in dealing with annoying requirements.

Rules about social distancing, masks, hand sanitizers, and the like can be extremely frustrating. Even more so if I don’t believe they are necessary.  It’s easy to lash out at the worker in the store who is enforcing these rules, complain to my friends, or quietly disregard the rules. Week after week of compliance can sorely try my faith — which is precisely how it works for my good. Things that try my faith are a gift from God. These annoyances give me the building blocks to build patience into my life. (James 1:2) That silly, senseless rule that irritates me presents an opportunity to vent my frustration or build my patience. My choice determines if I become better or bitter.

Compassion for those in crisis.

While the pandemic and the protests cause me inconvenience, the same events cause true hardship and crisis in the lives of some people. If God gives the opportunity, I can show his love in a tangible and striking way. I have to look beyond myself to recognize these opportunities. My compassion can bring hope to others and have eternal consequences if I use the opportunities God puts in my path.

Dealing with debatable issues in a respectful way.

We live in the unprecedented age of social media when we can share our opinions with a few clicks of a mouse. Social media stirs our anger and gives us an outlet to vent with an efficiency we wouldn’t have dreamed of a few decades ago. Memes and videos are so tempting to share. They can be a good way to share my opinion about an important issue when I can back it up with the facts. But it’s also easy to share exaggerated and highly emotive posts just because they are funny and they allow me to vent. But consistently dealing with issues and people I disagree with in a respectful way shines a light of integrity into a world that greatly needs it.

Playing fair with the facts.

 Any political event can be shared by various reporters in a way that supports their agenda. Even truthful accounts of an event can be presented in a variety of ways that may make a political figure look brave or cowardly, smart or foolish, nice or mean-spirited. It’s easy to believe the best about the politicians you support and the worst about the ones you don’t. It takes little effort to share reports these days, but it takes real effort to check the facts. Many times it’s impossible to know for sure what the facts are. Posting claims that damage a person’s reputation when we can’t verify the facts is reckless, if not slander. (Proverbs 6:16, 19) We model integrity when we show respect, but also when we resist the temptation to share posts that don’t play fair with the facts.

Peace during uncertain and unprecedented times.

Recently I’ve been listening to the song “My Hope Is Jesus” by Ron Hamilton. The chorus goes like this:

My hope is Jesus – the anchor of my soul,

the ruler of the universe, the One Who’s in control.

He saved me, and He will keep me till the end.

The rock of my salvation – on Christ I will depend.

My hope is Jesus.

Our dark world is desperately in need of hope. Even our churches need Christians whose hope truly is Jesus. 2020 has become a disturbing year in many ways. I can let these troubling events steal my peace, but then I’ve lost the opportunity to model hope. I may not understand what’s going on in my world. I may not have the answers to the problems around me. But when I focus on Christ instead of the tidal waves of current events, I can model unshakable faith.

Submission, patience, compassion, respect, fairness, peace. Our world needs to see these Christian virtues more than ever before. The church needs to see living, breathing models of these virtues. We have opportunities to let our light shine in unprecedented ways. Today. Right where we are.

Let’s take advantage of these opportunities and let our light shine.

Listen to “My Hope is Jesus.” 

 

Download the sheet music to “My Hope is Jesus.”

 

 

Children’s Ministry Resources You May Not Have Heard Of

Recently I asked on my Facebook author page for favorite resources of Christian ministry teachers of children. I’m excited to share these great resources I found that I never knew about. Check these out to see if they might work in your ministry.

Devotional Books

Parents in our churches need help finding books that give them easy and meaningful devotions for their families. Since my children are grown, devotional books aren’t automatically on my radar. Here are three recommendations from my readers:

Shannyn Mitchell recommends Worshipful Families by Howard Bean.

Hannah King has been using Tales from Cherry Lane in her family devotions this year. Last year they used My Big Book of 5-Minute Devotionals. Her kids have enjoyed them. They are in Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

Church Children’s Club Resources

This is what Rebekah Schrepfer uses for her kids’ club at Pioneer Peak Baptist Church in Palmer, Alaska.

Here’s an overview of the club that I have sent around as a Starter Kit. I still have no helpers and no budget.  In the overview I explain how I’ve put together our Wednesday Bible Club and I talk about the free resources that I’ve found.    I’ve used the free lessons from this website.  It is a good walk-through-the-Bible format, and it can be easily supplemented with visual aids and such.  I skip their suggested memory verse because the kids are already learning verses with their Summit Club Books.  And I don’t always use the crafts they suggest, but sometimes they’re nice to use.  I’ve also used this website and printed off their Bible Trading Cards.

Over the years, I’ve learned to use Photoshop and Microsoft Publisher, and I’ve learned how to use WordPress.  While these resources are not always free and can be a long road to travel, it has been a blessing to draw on these skills and apply them to a children’s ministry to make it look professional….when in reality, it’s just little ol’ me.

Original Bible stories and songs and a method for organization of materials

Marilyn Alexander has put all these materials on her website. They come from her long-term ministry at Calvary Baptist Church in Lamar, Colorado.

My friend, Marilyn Alexander has recently launched a website with teaching resources. She specializes in lessons for Bible stories that are used less often. She offers free, original songs about Bible characters. Many of these are about Bible characters that you never find songs about. She also explains a way to organize all your teaching materials in a way that helps you to find all the bits and pieces instantly. You can find all this on her website, Teaching the Bible to Kids.  

Junior Church material

Ruth Grosse recommends these after using them to teach junior church at First Baptist Church, Dillon, Montana. (The oldest Baptist church in Montana.)

AiG has these Sunday School materials. Ruth uses these to teach her Junior Church. She says, “I love Answers in Genesis for Junior Church!  I use the Pre-K – First material, though I have kids who are older – it still works great – and they learn lots of good Bible principles that give them a good foundation for life.  There is a wonderful flipchart and lots of illustrations during the lesson time that keep the kids’ attention, plus game ideas, songs, hands-on activity ideas, and a handwork sheet to take home.  There are 10 lessons per unit (you order a unit at a time), and I’m on the third one.  There is one memory passage per unit – and the kids learn that passage really well – because it is illustrated in the flip chart with words and pictures, plus we review it every Sunday during that unit.  They say it up front in church at the end of the unit, along with singing a song or two.  There are also 4 Bible Truth Questions for each unit that they learn the answers to – and that is fun for them because they all answer together in unison.”

Deb Brammer: Here are some fave resources that I’ve used teaching at Tay Street Baptist Church in Invercargill, New Zealand.

Free Bible Story Pictures

My favorite source for free pictures to use to teach Bible stories is Free Bible Images found here:  . I have printed these images on card and used them. Sometimes I get a Bible story in curriculum which just doesn’t have enough pictures of the story to suit me. I can print these out the day before I use them and not have to wait or pay postage. I’ve also used them for PowerPoint stories for our Discovery Club. Though they are free, if you’re using them a lot it’s nice to send in a contribution. These have really helped me because I like to make up my own Bible themes and use stories in different ways, but I always need Bible story pictures to show what I want to say.

Training for Puppet Ministry

My favorite DVD for training puppeteers is this one  from Creative Ministry Solutions.

My own free resources

If you haven’t checked out my website recently, you’ve missed some new resources I’ve added. Under “Church Programs” You not only find Christmas Programs and Mum-Daughter Nite themes. I’ve also added these original resources.

  • The Road Sign Song. Music and printable visuals for fun new kids’ song.
  • Old Testament Books Song. Used to memorize the Old Testament books. Printed music with demonstration video.
  • Old Testament timeline motions to help kids memorize an overview of the Old Testament.
  • 7-color Jesus poem and object lesson. Printable poem made to fit in a bag with jelly beans in each color. How to make an object lesson to go with it.

Puppet resources:

Under my Puppet Scripts and Tips you’ll find 20 original puppet scripts and 5 helpful articles about puppets.