All posts written by Jared Kennedy

Growing Kids in Grace | Pat Aldridge

The following is a great little article from my friend Pat Aldridge, who serve Redeemer Church in St. Charles, IL.  Can’t find a word here I disagree with:

Since coming back from the Children Desiring God conference, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about helping kids develop a passion for God and His Gospel. Mostly “how-to” type stuff. The books I have been reading all start by making two things very clear: 1) The importance of family devotions, and 2) The importance of personal growth. I want to explore these issues in reverse order.

Personal Devotions

The reason I want to start with personal devotions is because apart from them, family devotions won’t have as much, if any, impact on our kids. Our kids need to SEE us spending time reading our Bibles, praying, and handling life in a godly way. They need to SEE grace in action. Whether you understand it or not, parents have the most influence over their children. Two things to keep in mind about that: 1) parents are the people that spent the most time with their children, and 2) kids are like sponges – they absorb a lot from those they spend the most time with. What are we teaching our kids about the value of God, that it’s a private thing not to be disturbed, or that it is in the things of everyday life?

Another reason I start with personal devotions is that you as the parent/teacher need be growing in the graces and mercies of God. If we as the parents/teachers are growing ourselves our teaching will be more mechanical (”going through the motions”) and less life transforming.

Finally, personal growth as a parent means at least one more thing; we need to let our kids SEE us deal with our sin, especially when that sin is against them. We are sinners, just like they are, and we need to deal with that sin openly and honestly if we expect them to do the same. They struggle with the same sins we do – selfishness, stubbornness… do I need to go on? The bottom line in all sin is pride. If our kids don’t see us deal with sin, they won’t understand its devastating power.

Family Devotions

I like to think of family devotions as a kind of “small group” for your family. Most churches have small groups and when they are done well, this is where a lot of spiritual maturity happens. It shouldn’t be different with our families. At this point I must confess that I (like I suspect most of you) struggle with making this a habit. Our current schedule (my wife and I work opposite shifts with just a little overlap) compounds the problem. What we are learning is important in all aspects of child rearing; be intentional. We need to use the time God gives us to the best of its ability. Something I’ve had to say to myself is, “Stop making excuses, and just do it!”

I know what you may be thinking at this point, “Now that I have decided to do it, what should I do?” Here are some great resources to start you down the family devotions road. I have decided to start with a booklet put out by Children Desiring God called Helping Children Understand the Gospel by Sally Michael, Jill Nelson, and Bud Burk. I choose to start here because the Gospel is foundational. If I get this wrong it doesn’t matter what else I teach, it could (and probably will) be corrupt. I want my kids to cherish the richness of the message of the Gospel. Once the foundation is set we are planning on moving on to Bruce Ware’s book Big Truths for Young Hearts. It’s a great devotional that breaks down theology and helps kids (and parents as well) understand (as much as we can this side of heaven) how big God really is. From there we will probably us one of the many Catchisms that are out there. One of the ones we have is the Truth and Grace Memory Bookby Thomas K. Ascol put out by Founders Press. There are a lot of good resourses out there, ask people you trust they can probably recommend more, these are the ones I have come in contact with and will work for me.


Keep the following things in mind:

1) As parents we have the PRIMARY responsibility to raise our children in the ways of God. It’s not the church’s job to see that our kids get God. We spend the most amount of time with our kids and they learn a lot from watching what we do, say, and how we handle life.

2) Help your kids see God in the mundane, everyday situations of life.

3) Let your kids see you deal with sin. Don’t hide it or rationalize it away. Deal with it. This will teach your kids volumes about how dangerous sin is.

4) If you need help, ask. It doesn’t matter what stage you or your kids are at, start working to deepen their faith (yours will be deepened in the process).

5) Be intentional. We don’t know how much time we have so use it wisely.

6) Always have the heart in mind. Work on the heart not the behavior.

What are you reading or learning on this topic? Please share.

via Growing Kids in Grace | Redeemer’s Voice.

What Is the Chuch? A new Sojourn children’s book tackles this difficult question.

Earlier this week, I ran across a blog post that got me a little excited.  Dr. Ray Van Neste, of whom I am a big fan, reviewed a simple little book from Concordia Publishing aimed at young children to encourage their engagement in the worship of the church and explaining key parts of the Lutheran worship service.  In the book, comment is made on  prayer, congregational singing, Bible reading, preaching, communion, baptism, and giving.  Van Neste noted, “In a day when the church is so often minimized or disparaged, it is great to see a children’s book like this… I would like to see my own denominational publisher produce something similar in a Baptist vein.”

Well, I’m pleased to announce that a similar book is in the final stages of production here at Sojourn.  Mandy Groce and Bill Bell (with illustrations by Tessa Janes) have been working on a new book  for our kids that asks the difficult question What is a Church? Here are some of the opening lines:what is the church_right

Let’s say you ask me, “What’s the church?”
I’d say, “Not what, but WHO!”
The church is made of people just
Like me and just like you.

The church is not a place we go
To meet on special days.
It’s us—it’s he and she and we—
Called out to bring Christ praise.

God’s church is built of human hearts—
Men, women, girls, and boys.
By faith we’re made God’s family
And that’s why we rejoice!

Unlike other books on the church, this book does not answer the question by telling what the church does (preaching, communion, baptism, discipline)–although those things are essential and should not be ignored.  But this book begins with who we are–our identities as a church.  As a gospel people, the church is a believing family, a community of worshipers, servants, learners, and missionaries.  Stay tuned for more as the project continues.

To Be Like Jesus | New Album from Sovereign Grace Kids–a sequal to their Awesome God! album

Bob Kauflin:

You can now sample songs from our next children’s CD, To Be Like Jesus, at the Sovereign Grace Music website. The album is scheduled for release later this month.

To Be Like Jesus contains 12 songs. Ten of them are based on the qualities listed as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. I know only nine are listed there, but we included two on self-control because…well, any parent knows why we have two songs on self-control. The other two songs teach that God wants to make us like his Son, and when he does, we bear the fruit of the Spirit.

We tried hard to avoid two extremes on this project. The first is assuming that every kid singing these songs is a Christian. Obviously, that won’t be true. So the songs are primarily meant to teach and proclaim, rather than express the thoughts of a converted soul (although there are some of those songs as well). Second, we wanted to be sure kids understood we can’t be joyful, patient, kind, good, etc. apart from the Spirit’s work in us. The goal isn’t simply to be a “good citizen.” It’s to be transformed by the power of God’s Spirit into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ. And it’s all made possible through Jesus dying in our place for our sins.

The tracks were played by the drummer, bassist, and guitar player for Sara Groves. They did an outstanding job. The rhythm tracks overflow with creativity and joy. We used vocalists from Sovereign Grace churches in Orlando, FL and Gaithersburg, MD. The whole project was produced by Steve Cook.

Check out the samples and let me know what you think.

HT: Between Two Worlds

Q&A for Parents on Baptism and Communion

This document, The Sacraments: Questions and Answers for Parents, is an appendix from a manual for new/prospective members at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, MD.  It looks like a helpful read:

1. What is a sacrament?

2. What is baptism?

3. When should a child be baptized?

4. What is a believable profession of faith?

5. Does God save young children?

6. What is the role of the parent in evaluating a child’s readiness to be baptized?

7. If my child said a prayer and invited Jesus into his heart, isn’t that enough to be baptized?

8. What is the Lord’s Supper?

9. How do baptism and the Lord’s Supper differ?

10. When should a child receive the Lord’s Supper?

11. Should unbaptized children take the Lord’s Supper?

12. What do I say to a child who thinks he is converted if I don’t think he is ready for baptism or the Lord’s Supper?

13. Are there any problems with waiting too long to baptize a truly converted child?

14. If I have a child who is unbaptized but receiving the Lord’s Supper, how do I go about removing this privilege?

15. Why not baptize infants?

16. What do I do if my child was baptized as an infant?

17. What if my child was baptized at an early age, and now I don’t think he was really converted until later; should he be baptized again?

18. What is the role of the church in evaluating a child’s readiness to be baptized and receive the Lord’s Supper?

Check out Sojourn’s own policy and position on childhood baptism and church membership.

HT: 9Marks Blog; Between Two Worlds

Memory Monday (06/22/09)

“Do not repay anyone evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody” (Romans 12:17)
From the Middle Elementary curriculum for Grades 3-5

What is “Memory Monday”? Each week I’ll post Scripture and/or Bible doctrine memory work from the previous Sunday’s children’s Bible lessons. Here is the challenge! Learn the memory work together as a family. Then, kids, come to our Sunday gatherings next week and recite the memory work to Mrs. Kelsey Barnes (St. Matthews campus), Mr. David Kidd (Germantown campus) or me to receive a reward.