Thursday Book Club: What is the Church?

What is the Church? is Sojourn’s second children’s book, written by Mandy Groce and Bill Bell.   What Is The Church? was written to teach preschool children that the church is not a building. It is a people that God has called together and made alive by faith.  Unlike other books on the church, this book does not answer the question by first telling about the activities that the church does (gathering, preaching, communion, baptism, counseling, discipline)–although those things are essential marks of the church and they should not be ignored.  Instead, this book begins with who God’s people are–recognizing that the church’s activity results from its identity.  When we call children to be a part of the church, we are calling them to be a part of a gospel people.  And, as a gospel people, the church is a believing family, a community of missionaries, servants, learners, and worshipers.  At Sojourn, we call our people to stop going to church and to start being the church. Once God’s people know who they are, we can challenge them to be who they are.  In other words, we call them to live as the people that God has made them to be.

We are pleased to announce that the book will soon be published by Christian Focus Publications.  The projected date for publication is July 2011.  You can pre-order now at their website.

Last Sunday: Behold the Lamb!

This week, Sojourn’s kids studied Revelation 5:1-14. We learned that…

  • God wrote the world’s history–past, present, and future–in a sealed book.
  • No one could be found that was worthy to open up this book.
  • King Jesus is worthy, because He is the Lamb who died for the world’s sins.

Download the SojournKids At Home for this lesson.


34 Days Until VBS–Check out these J-town decorations!

There are just 42 days left before our Midtown Campus VBS.  After that, there will be only a couple of weeks before the J-town Campus version. Sign up now to register your children or to serve! Here are some great pictures of decorations that are up at the J-town campus:

Curriculum FAQs: How did you choose your curriculum?

One question that we get fairly often at Sojourn is, “What curriculum do you use and how did you land on it?” That is a really great question. My first year on staff at Sojourn was 2007. At that time, Sojourn’s elders weren’t satisfied with the curriculum that we were using, and we began to look for something new. Here is the process that we adopted at that time.

Step #1, Research. A research team was formed, and we worked to amass as much information as possible about children’s ministry curriculum. In 2007, the primary researchers were Maggie Ainsworth (now part of the church planting core at Covenant Community Church in Pearland, TX) and me.

Step #2, Evaluation. We set out to judge the curriculum based on the following criteria:

  1. Gospel-Centrality. In our research, we found that children’s Bible lessons were typically designed to teach children what to do—“Be joyful!  Be courageous!”  But this is rarely the main point of the Bible story.  The Bible was written to show us God—who He is and what He has done to rescue us through Christ Jesus. We wanted a curriculum that kept God and his gospel central.  We also wanted a curriculum that reflected the core values of Sojourn.
  2. Attractional for Outsiders. We want to have a children’s ministry that creates attractional environments for building relationships with kids and their families. So, the curriculum should not be so incremental and dependent on previous lessons that it fails to embrace kids that are new to the program. And it shouldn’t alienate children that are seeking with legalistic standards/application points (after all, this is anti-gospel). Most of all, the curriculum should be fun! Continue Reading…

Thursday Book Club: Teaching Children Can Be Simple

Post image for Long Story Short Devotional

The following article is by Marty Machowski. It is  taken from Bible Study Magazine, where his book Long Story Short was recently featured.  The counsel that you’ll find below is very helpful.

I remember feeling the full weight of my leather-covered adult Bible when I first sat down to teach my kids. At that moment, the responsibility seemed overwhelming. Questions flooded my mind: “Where do I start? How much should I read? What should I say?” And the biggest question of all: “Am I even qualified to do this?”

But teaching the Bible to my children was easier than I thought. It’s easier than most parents think. Here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned along the way:

  • Start with the Stories. There’s a reason story Bibles are so popular. Who wouldn’t be captivated by stories about giants, battles, miracles, and shipwrecks? These stories are in your adult Bible with even more detail. Read Genesis, Exodus, 1 Samuel, the Gospels, and the book of Acts. Watch your children get excited about what will happen next.

  • Shorter is Better. All you need is ten minutes a day. Read a shorter passage—not a whole chapter—using your Bible’s chapter subdivisions as a guide. Ask a few simple questions after you read. Let the discussion go where it will—then pray. Keep your Bible at the dinner table, and pick up where you left off the next day. After a couple of weeks, your children might remind you that it’s Bible study time.

  • Be prepared for distractions. It’s no surprise that children’s attention spans are short. I’ve blown more than one family Bible study by getting frustrated when my children lost focus. Allow distractions to run their course. Pause for a minute, and then draw your children’s focus back to what you are reading.

  • Look for Jesus. Stories in the Old Testament look forward to Christ: God providing a deliverer to save his people and blood sacrifices being offered up for sin. And every New Testament story points to Jesus. In each Bible story you read, look for him.

  • Faithfulness over time is what’s important. Consistency is more important than a fantastic devotion. Don’t forget that it’s the power of the gospel that transforms children’s lives, not the quality of our presentation. Often, your family Bible study is going to feel average. Just remember that the impact we leave on our children takes place over years.

HT: Covenant Fellowship Church blog