All posts written by Jared Kennedy

Investing in parents begins at the front door.

At Sojourn, we’re invested in families.  And investing in families involves investing in parents.  That is why we provide family worship guides and children’s books and other resources for families.  But, we’ve come to see that investing in parents begins at the front door… and this is where we’re weak.  We want to be a church that shows parents that we care for and love their kids just as much as they do. We want to be a church that is so helpful and safe and friendly and fun that families can’t wait to come back next week.  This is who we want to be, right?  So, here is the challenge.  We need a team of 10 people from each service—primarily ladies—who will commit to serve weekly over the next year as part of a family hospitality team.  And we need these 10 people by January 24th.    If you are interested in being part of this team, please sign up at the information table after the service on Sunday or e-mail kids@sojournchurch.com

2 Great Family Worship Resources for Proverbs!

Over the next month, our church will be studying the book of Proverbs together.  I wanted to recommend two books that will help your family to dig into Solomon’s book of wisdom.  Both books list proverbs and classify them by subject.   This arrangement makes these practical reference book son wise living for children, students, and parents.

Signposts from Proverbs: An Introduction to Proverbs Signposts from Proverbs by Rhiannon Weber, Illustrated by Lawrence Littleton Evans (The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980). Weber emphasizes the practical and pointed nature of the proverbs.  In the introduction, he states, “God knows the very real traps and pitfalls of this life, and only he has the wisdom to know how to deal with them.”  Weber’s proverbs lists are based on the New International Version (NIV) and are accompanied by helpful teaching notes that explain more difficult words and cultural concepts.   His approach is thoroughly Christ-centered.  He understands Proverbs’ statements as humorous, serious, truthful, and kind ‘visual aids’ that “help us to realize our sin and need of a Savior.  They point us to the perfect righteousness of Christ and his ability therefore to be a Savior who can forgive us our sins, and who is able to hear a cry for help, and give strength and wisdom by his Spirit day by day.”

God Loves You: Proverbs from the BibleGod Loves You: Proverbs from the Bible by Malle Whitaker, Illustrated by Lynn Adams (American Bible Society, 1995). This American Bible Society resource contains another faithful classification of the Proverbs based on the Contemporary English Version (CEV).  One of the most valuable portions of the book is “A Note to Parents and Teachers” at the back, which contains and elaborated version of the following seven steps to learning Proverbs with your children:

  • Read the text out loud to a young child or allow an older child to read it out loud to you.
  • Show the child where the passages are found in your own Bible.
  • Talk with the child about what the proverbs mean and encourage the child to talk about experiences in his/her own life that the proverbs may bring to mind.
  • Talk with the child about the differences between wisdom and foolishness.
  • Discuss the illustrations with the child.  Ask the child to explain what is going on int he picture and encourage him or her to describe what each person in the picture must be thinking or feeling.
  • Encourage the child to memorize proverbs that he or she finds especially meaningful.
  • Discuss with the child what it means to trust in God.  Ask the child to describe how the proverbs show that God loves him/her.

Proverbs Family Devotional Guide

Proverbs’ Instruction for Parents: Proverbs are “rules of thumb” for living a life of faith in God’s world. In chapters 1-9 of this book, Solomon addresses the “son” and encourages him to listen to the “rules of thumb” his father and mother teach him, because this instruction will prove to be a great prize (1:8-9). Parents, especially fathers, should not ignore the emphasis in this book on their role in teaching their kids.  Parents are the primary educators of their children in Proverbs, and that role should not be neglected.

Topics to Talk About With Your Kids: Teaching must have a goal.  Modern educational theory sees knowledge (cognitive skills), attitudes (affective skills), and abilities (psychomotor skills) as the goals of teaching.  In Proverbs, the goal of teaching is (1) Faith, (2) Character, and (3) Wise Living. Continue Reading…

How to talk with your kids about the Shelby Park shooting

If you have been following Sojourn blogs or have payed attention during announcements at services over the past few weeks, you may know about the recent shooting in Shelby Park, one of the neighborhoods surrounding our Germantown campus.  A member of our sister church, Immanuel Baptist, was shot late Sunday evening, December 13th.  He was rushed to the hospital where he has undergone several major surgeries.  He is badly injured and is currently in a coma.

You may have already had the opportunity to speak with your children about this tragedy.  If they have heard about this tragedy, they certainly are asking questions and wanting updates.  If you live in the immediate neighborhood, your kids may have begun to express fears and concerns about their safety (or sense your fears and concerns).  Our hope is that this post would help you point your children to Christ through this situation and will help you answer their questions in a way that is adequate and age appropriate.

Here are some things to keep in mind as your family processes together: Continue Reading…

Dads, the Old Testament ends with a message for you. God wants your kids. So, God wants you.

Here are the famous final words of the Old Testament:

“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.  He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”  Malachi 4:5-6

One pastor, Steve Wright, observes, “Of all the ways that the Old Testament could have closed, notice how with laser accuracy it zeros in on one particular group–fathers” (ApParent Privelege, 135).  The passage promises a messenger like Elijah who would bring reconciliation of family conflicts within the Jewish community.  And it warns that the land will be cursed if the fathers do not respond to this messenger.  But how will they be cursed?  What is at stake if the fathers disobey?

Throughout the book of Malachi, the prophet has called fathers to turn in repentance toward Him and turn back to their community, their wives, and their families.  The consequences are clear.  By their actions, the fathers will either become a curse and source of warning for their children, or their repentance will be a source of blessing for their children.  And their children will be claimed by God as godly offspring:

“If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.  “Because of you I will rebuke your descendants” (Malachi 2:2-3a)

“The LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.  Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth” (Malachi 2:14b-15)

God wants dads to reconcile with Him and with their families, because he has a claim on their children.  He desires godly offspring.  He wants the next generation to know Him and  treasure Him, keep his commandments, and not forget him.   And family conflict is an obstacle that gets in the way of kids knowing Christ.  Conflict with your spouse can be an obstacle to your kids growing in godliness. Continue Reading…