All posts written by Jared Kennedy

We can serve because Jesus served us. (Family Devotional on John 13:3-17)

Dear Parents,

This week at SojournKids, we learned about Jesus washing the disciples feet from John 13:3-17. Take time to read this passage with your kids this week. Here are two key points about servanthood that you can emphasize with your kids.

First, servants need Jesus. We cannot serve others until we see that Jesus first served us. He is our savior. We need him to wash us from our sins. Jesus didn’t just do a dirty job. He died for our sins on the cross. Now he gives us the Holy Spirit, who shows us our sin and changes our hearts. He makes us able to serve other people and love them even when it is hard. Servants first need Jesus to serve us. Without Jesus, we can do nothing.

Second, we serve by following Jesus’ example. We can’t tell everyone, “I’m a servant!” if we aren’t willing to do hard, dirty things. Jesus laid down his life for us. That was a sacrifice. Now, he wants us to sacrifice for others too. God has asked you to do hard things—things like obeying your parents even when you don’t want to or talking to your friend about Jesus or loving your brother or sister and speaking kindly even when they are annoying.


Sing! Clap! Dance! Teaching Kids to Praise

If you are a parent, then God has commanded you to teach your children about Him.  And He has commanded you to teach your children to worship Him—and worship Him expressively.

In Psalm 78:4, the songwriter, Asaph, declares: “We will… tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” Asaph is an example of both a father who led his children in worship and a leader who led the community in worship.  Asaph wrote worship songs that gave praise to the Lord and reminded the people about all that he did.  Even if you are not musical like Asaph, you can lead your children to worship God.

  1. Enjoy God yourself! Expressive joy in the gospel message makes it believable to our children.   Parents who truly display the joy of the Lord in their whole being encourage children to believe.   You are the curriculum that your child will learn most fully.  So, be expressive yourself.  It is a good thing to praise the Lord (Psalm 92:1).  Check out these great worship resources including the chord sheet for Jeremy Quillo’s arrangement of “When I Think About Jesus.”  Download the PDF here. Then, fill your home with praise!  Sing out!  Clap!  Dance!
  2. Encourage your kids to be responsive and expressive! You shouldn’t demand outward expression from your kids, but you can encourage it. The scripture calls everyone to clap their hands to the Lord. We should feel comfortable doing the same thing.  The call to worship God appropriately is universal (Psalm 47:1).  Call your kids to respond to God with their hearts, but don’t set your expectations too high for their responsiveness or heart engagement in singing, because many of the children are not yet believers.  Remember, your leadership and example is the most important thing.
  3. Explain what you are doing. Take time to explain what you are doing.  Parents have the privilege and responsibility to show our kids the greatness, power, and glory of Jesus.  Take time to talk about the words we sing.  Take time to explain why we do what we do (Exodus 13:8).  Take time to ask questions about what a song means and how its words apply to your child’s life.   Ask questions to find out how much our kids really understand about what we’re doing.   By the way, these conversations always seem to be more fruitful when they are casual—outside a time of family worship rather than during it.


(1) Explain to your children why we sometimes raise our hands when we sing or pray.  Read 1 Timothy 2:8.  Explain how we want our kids to get comfortable lifting their hands in worship, but we don’t want them to misunderstand what it signifies.  Lifting our hands shows that God is holy (different from us), and He has made us holy (different from the world).  We don’t lift our hands to show that we make ourselves holy or great.  We don’t lift our hands in order to become holy.

(2) Read Psalm 98 together as a family.  Then answer these questions:  Who and what is worshiping God in this song?  How are they worshiping God?  What parts of their bodies do they use?  What instruments do they use?  Why do they worship God in this way?

More Resources:

Bob Kauflin, “Q&A Training Children to Worship God,” Worship Matters (3/31/06).

Bob Kauflin, “One more thought on Training Children to Worship God,” Worship Matters (3/31/06).

Mike Bradshaw and Ken Boer, “Training Children to Worship God,” WorshipGod09 Conference: From Generation To Generation © 2009 Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Chandi Plummer and Jared Kennedy, “Music for Little Ones,” SojournKids (10/2/08).

Good News for the Poor (Family Devotional on Luke 2:1-20)

Dear Parents,

Merry Christmas! This week at SojournKids, we learned about the birth of Jesus from Luke 2:1-20. Take time to read this passage with your kids this week. For many, it’s a tradition to read this passage on Christmas morning. Here are three main take-aways  to talk about with your kids.

  • Jesus was born in a manger (2:1-7).  Jesus is God. Jesus is the King of the universe. But he wasn’t born in a castle or palace like a prince. He wasn’t born in a big hotel or even a state-of-the art hospital. There was no room for him in the inn. When he was born, Mary placed  baby Jesus in a manger—a feeding trough for cows and goats—because there was not even a guest room available. Jesus became poor.
  • Jesus was announced to shepherds (2:8-14)! God sent an army of angels to announce that Jesus was born, but he didn’t send the army to important people. The message didn’t go to the kings and presidents and congressmen. No. He sent the good news to poor, low-class shepherds. They weren’t just rural farmers. They were lowly and unwanted yet the angel said, “Peace on earth to everyone God has chosen and loved (including you lowly shepherds!).” Jesus is good news for the poor.
  • How do we respond? (2:15-20). When they heard, some people were amazed and shocked! They said, “That’s crazy! The new King has come in a manger… and to shepherds? Really?” The shepherds responded by praising God! Everything the angel said was true! They couldn’t stop telling everyone they saw. But Mary was filled with wonder, and she treasured these things in her heart. “God sent the King to a poor couple with no place to stay. He sent the King to poor shepherds. He brings good news to the poor.” When I am lowly and poor and broken, I can trust that Jesus came for me.

Advent–The Light Has Come

Dear Parents,

For a long time, Christians have celebrated the weeks before Christmas with a season known as “Advent.” Advent is a word that simply means “coming” or “waiting.” It’s a funny name, because when kids are really excited about something, they say, “I can’t wait!” Children overflow with anticipation whenever the time nears for birthdays, visitors, vacations, and especially… Christmas!

For many, many years, God’s people waited eagerly to meet their Savior. He was the king and the warrior who was coming to set them free from their sins. The Bible tells us that the whole world was waiting for the Savior to come. Celebrating Advent is a ways of saying, “I can’t wait for Jesus!”

One of the ways we celebrate Advent is by lighting candles in honor of Jesus–the one who has come to bring us light. The apostle John tells us that when Jesus came into the world:

What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out 
(John 1:5, The Message).

The prophet Isaiah says it like this:

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.
For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:2, 6 NIV).

The whole world was living in a kind of spiritual darkness. They were lost without Jesus, but when Jesus came, it was like someone switched on the lights. The waiting is over. Truth and hope have come!

Read Luke 1 or Story #79 in The Gospel Story Bible then review these questions with your kids:

ASK: According to the angel, who is going to give Mary a baby? The Holy Spirit

ASK: What name is Mary to give her baby? She is to call his name Jesus.

ASK: What special things does the angel say about Jesus? He will be the son of God. He will be the king, and his kingdom will never end.


The Light Has Come from Jared Stewart Kennedy on Vimeo.

If you are leading children’s choir this Advent season…

Here are some timely words from Sojourn New Albany campus worship leader, Kristen Gilles:

Some of you may be leading a children’s choir at your church in this Advent season.  If you are, be sure to encourage all of the children to look to Jesus, their Worship Leader, as they sing their hearts out. Remind them that it’s okay if they don’t remember all the words or sing every note in perfect time or pitch.  Teach them to encourage each other to sing in full confidence that Jesus is making perfect their imperfect singing and worship.

Read more here