The “Gospel Day” Trap

The Trap Revealed

Chapter 3 helps us avoid the danger of the “gospel day” trap. We can fall into this trap when we segregate the teaching of the good news to certain special days (Easter, VBS, etc.) rather than pointing to Christ every week, in every lesson, and from every Scripture. Our students (and their teachers) need to hear the gospel often because the good news is not just for those who need to be saved, but it is also the source of our growth as believers. The unsaved church kids need to here the good news because that is God’s method for brining salvation (Romans 10:14-17). Saved church kids need to hear it because the good news brings the power to fight sin and love God and others.

“Kids who only hear the good news a little tend to become kids who only love and trust Jesus a little.”

A Dire Warning

Does our method of teaching and discipleship produce kids who are “zealous for good works”? I’m including an extensive quote from page 52 not to berate or condemn us, but to help us feel the weight of our calling.

“If kids are leaving the church, it’s because we’ve failed to give them a view of Jesus and his cross that’s compelling enough to satisfy their spiritual hunger and give them the zeal they crave. They haven’t seen that Jesus Himself is better than any “Jesus program.” He’s better than the music used to worship him. He’s better than a mission trip. He’s better than their favorite youth leader. He’s also better than money. Better than video games. Better than romantic teen movies. Better than sex. Better than popularity or power.”

“We’ve failed too many kids. We’ve fed them things to do. We’ve fed them “worshipful” experiences. But we’ve failed to feed them more than a spoonful of the good news. Now they’re starving and they’ll eat anything. They’re trying to feed their souls with something – maybe even a churchy thing – that feels like it fits them, when what they need is someone utterly better than themselves.”

Do you think this assessment is correct?

How Christian Growth Stalls

We are all subject to stagnation in our spiritual growth. Jack uses the flashlight illustration (p. 55-57) to show why that happens and why our saved church kids are especially susceptible to it. The solution for all of us is for the value of the work of Christ to grow in our hearts just as much as our realization of God’s demands and our inability to meet those demands. So lets ask the Holy Spirit to help us see that the gospel realities of Christ’s obedience, sacrificial death, and resurrection are always on our hearts and lips as we live and teach.

Moving Forward:

In the next post we will read and discuss Chapter 4: “The Factory-Preset Fourth Grader”.

I Want to Hear from You: (Click on “Leave a Reply” at the top in order to comment.)

What were your biggest takeaways from this chapter?

Have you ever had your spiritual growth stall because the cross was not “big enough” in your mind?  How did you change that?

 

The God Report Card

The Power of a Good Illustration

This chapter reminds us that the way we illustrate the truths that we are teaching can have a powerful impact on our students. Nicole and the Kindergarten boy were both confronted with the reality of the gospel in ways that engaged their minds and emotions. As we teach, we must be aware that simply reciting and explaining a truthful proposition to our class will not always connect them to the truth the same way a well told illustration or object lesson can. Because our students have diverse learning styles it is helpful to think through ways to involve them and their senses throughout the lesson in order to help the truth of the gospel be firmly planted and rooted in their hearts and minds. What illustration or object lesson have you seen make an impact on your students?

The Good News

It is easy to take for granted that our students understand the gospel message. However, just because they can answer our questions and show the cognitive ability to connect dots theologically does not mean they have fully grasped the meaning of the gospel for their own lives. In this chapter we see how the message that “Christ died for our sins” helps us reject man-centered approaches to our relationship with God (moralism, a begrudging God, cheap grace, therapeutic religion, and “Jesus-as-example”). Knowing and trusting that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our salvation gives us all the benefits we need for life in this world and the next. It will motivate our worship and obedience.

“Jesus’s death and resurrection is more than a poignant idea that helps us love God. It indeed gives us love, but this is because the cross is the actual loving act that kindles our own love, and Jesus is the real and risen Savior who rescues all who are his.” (p.27)

The Good News Summarized

I was thankful for the ways Jack summarized the good news. As you read these reminders of what Christ has done for us, allow your heart to be comforted and awed at the “love of God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:39).

  • Sin means we were doomed to die. But Jesus died to give us eternal life. “[He] died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him” (1 Thess. 5:10)
  • Sin means we were cursed. But Jesus became cursed to make us blessed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13).
  • Sin means we were shamed. But Jesus endured the shame of the cross to give us honor. “He has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1:22)
  • Sin means we were guilty. But Jesus was condemned and punished so we could be declared not guilty, “canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2:14).
  • Sin means we were enemies of God and deserving of his anger. But Jesus deflected that wrath onto himself to give us God’s favor. “While we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Rom. 5:10).
  • Sin means we were shut out from fellowship with God. But Jesus died alone on the cross so we might never be lonely again. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Pet. 3:18)

How do these truths fuel your passion for teaching children?

Moving Forward:

Next week we will read and discuss Chapter 3: The “Gospel Day” Trap. I’m sorry that I have been late in getting this book study moving, but I want to use November to catch up. So we will take one chapter each week in November in order get back on track.

I Want to Hear from You: (Click on “Leave a Reply” at the top in order to comment.)

What were your biggest takeaways from this chapter?

Will you use the “God Report Card” illustration with your class?

Who is it in your class that needs to understand the good news?

How does the obedience of Jesus encourage your own obedience?

 

Show Them Jesus – The One-Note Teacher

 

Jesus-Centered Teaching:

What teacher has had the most impact on your life? Observing Joe’s lesson forever changed Jack’s approach to teaching.  Joe’s emphasis on the gracious activity of God toward Samuel and the connection he made to Jesus was different than the moralistic approach Jack expected. “Gradually, I saw that Joe’s chief purpose was just to let us see Jesus a little bigger and better than we’d seen him before.” (p. 14) Isn’t that what we all want to do each week? Help our students see Jesus in bigger, deeper ways so that their hearts will love Him more.

The Goal of our Teaching:

This was also Paul’s primary goal. (Though I doubt he had a room full of 3 year olds or active 5th grade boys to teach.:) As 1 Corinthians 2 shows us, Paul did not trust in his oratory skills and persuasive words to elicit the heart change needed to bring about faith and repentance. He used every opportunity to exalt Christ and share with the Corinthians the good news, that Jesus had already done for them what was needed. Teaching with a focus on the person and work of Jesus does not eliminate behavioral change. It gives us good news that enables true faith-filled worship and obedience.

“The message of Jesus’s death and resurrection is a tool of the Spirit to change hearts. Nagging is not.” (p. 16)

Even as we think and work toward improving our teaching skills, it is not because we think our abilities will be what changes our students. We use every tool in our creative arsenal so that we can give our students the truest, clearest picture of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to exalt Christ so that their faith will rest on Him and not on us.

The Challenge:

On page 18 Jack addresses each one of us when he says, “Fellow teachers, our challenge is to proclaim the good news of Jesus so clearly and consistently that no kid of ours will ever place him in a category with typical religious leaders. Our calling is to be good-news fanatics.” In your classroom, are you a good news fanatic? I’m so thankful that as I observe you teaching and hear accounts of how your students are responding to the gospel that you are clearly fulfilling your calling. Thank you for allowing God to speak through you and use His word and Spirit to transform hearts and lives for His glory!

Moving Forward:

Next week we will read and discuss Chapter 2: “The God Report Card”. I’m sorry that I have been late in getting this book study moving, but I want to use November to catch up. So we will take one chapter each week in November in order get back on track.

I Want to Hear from You: (Click on “Leave a Reply” in order to comment.)

  • What were your biggest takeaways from this chapter?
  • How will this chapter impact your teaching in the future?
  • Share about a teacher that has impacted you. How do you teach differently because of them?

 

Show Them Jesus – introduction

The Need:

I’m excited about reading Show Them Jesus with you. I’m excited coverbecause as disciples of Jesus we are all called to live as salt and light in this dark, sin-sick world. That job is not an easy one. Often it is personally painful to live like Jesus and share the gospel with those closest to us. But in the midst of our difficulties and weakness God shows His goodness and grace. That’s why I was encouraged by how Klumpenhower realistically describes our calling. (After looking at how to spell that name 3 times, I’m going to refer to the author as “Jack” from now on.;)

“Jesus tells us that the work of proclaiming God’s kingdom is dangerous. It takes courage. It demands earnest prayer. It’s more about faith than giftedness, and it requires no resources other than those God provides. It’s a high-stakes spiritual battle, using supernatural weapons. Anyone who’s willing to engage the fight on this level is needed for the cause. Such an adventurer will reap a rare mix of power, humility, and wide-eyed joy.” (p. 2-3)

I’m excited because together we have the privilege of engaging with God and His church in the adventure of sharing Jesus with the children and families that He brings into our classrooms. I’m excited because the truths of this book will encourage us to press on. Thanks for volunteer for this adventurous battle!

The Purpose:

Jack states in the introduction that his purpose in writing is to encourage us to live up to the calling of teaching and treasuring the good news of Jesus. We minister to many children who are being taught faithfully by their parents and other adults in their lives, and have an astounding amount of biblical knowledge. We want that knowledge to be fuel for the fire of their hearts to love and treasure Jesus above all the other competitors in this world. In order to effectively communicate the worth of Jesus to our students we must believe it ourselves. The first part of this book will help us treasure the good news, and the second part will help us teach it.

The Example:

Jack shares the example of teaching the story of Achan and relating it to the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This had a faith building impact on one young girl and her mother. Do you have an example like his? Have you ever taught a difficult passage or truth and then been rewarded to see the Holy Spirit use it in ways you didn’t expect? Please share!

Moving Forward:

Next week we will read and discuss Chapter 1: “The One-Note Teacher”. I’m sorry that I have been late in getting this book study moving, but I want to use November to catch up. So we will take one chapter each week in November in order get back on track.

I Want to Hear from You:

What were your biggest takeaways from this chapter?

How will this chapter impact your teaching in the future?

What can you share that will encourage the rest of us to live up to our calling?