3 Goals for Vacation Bible School

Parkwood just completed her 2016 Vacation Bible School, and we had 3 goals for the week:

1. Show kids love.

Our first goal is very simple yet supremely fundamental. We want to show kids love. Of course we want them to have fun and enjoy themselves. But more than entertain and impress, we want to show love. Many children are no doubt brought to VBS by parents who love them and tell them so every day. Some children, though, are not loved well, and they live in a home that is far from demonstrating or communicating love. For all kids, but for this second group in particular, we want VBS at Parkwood to be a time and place that is unambiguously characterized by love. We want kids not only to know and experience love from adults who care about them, but we also want them to know and experience the love of God which transcends the time and space of VBS.  [Read more…]

10 Ways To Hate Your Children

It is increasingly common to hear the words “I don’t like kids,” and proportionally it is culturally acceptable not only to have such an opinion but to casually and publicly express such a sentiment. What is worse, childless members of society are not the only ones to proclaim this opinion, but such statements are made by would-be parents and even parents of children. This negative view of children is unacceptable and thoroughly anti-biblical. Studying to preach Matthew 19:13-15, combined with this cultural reality, leads me to consider the disdain that is communicated toward kids and the ways our disdain, intentionally or unintentionally, prevent children from coming to Christ. Consider ten ways we hinder children:

1. Treating children as a nuisance.

 The disciples view children as a nuisance when they are brought to Jesus in Matthew 19. Parents identify their children as a nuisance when they make comments about finally going back to school, indicating they do not like having their kids at home but would rather they be somewhere else. Those without children believe they should be seen and not heard, perhaps not even seen if the setting is a restaurant where the “nuisance” of children is particularly unwelcome.

2. Focusing on our own needs and wants while neglecting their needs. 

 Too often, adults consider themselves more important than children, sometimes because adults are arrogant and think too much of themselves, or sometimes because they simply think too little of children. Either way, children can be ignored as adults focus more on their own wants and needs while neglecting the needs of children.

3. Focusing on what children want. 

 Adults can hinder children by neglecting their needs, but they can also hinder children by focusing on their wants. Jesus models the antithesis of this with the young ruler in Matthew 19:16-22. Jesus did not give the young ruler what he wanted but demonstrated what, or Who, he needed. Adults hinder children when they indiscriminately focus on what they want. They’re children; they may not know what they (should) want.

4. Failing to keep your marriage vows. 

 Adults, and parents in particular, hinder children by providing a poor example of covenant love in marriage. Husbands and wives have the perfect opportunity to teach sacrificial love, humble submission, and sanctification in marriage, yet many waste the opportunity by failing to honor their marriage vows.

5. Lacking biblical parenting and discipline. 

 Our culture has completely turned the view of discipline on its head in only a few generations. Grandparents remember a very different world when discipline was acceptable and expected; now, however, discipline seems more the exception. Parents are afraid of hurting their children emotionally and damaging their self-esteem while they remain unaware of the severe consequences that come with lack of discipline. Hebrews 12:7-8 tells a significantly different story; discipline necessarily comes with love and parenting.

6. Lacking biblical discipleship. 

 Parents must come to recognize the necessity for biblical discipleship. Corporate worship, fellowship, discipleship, mission are not simply good options – “We’ll go to church if you don’t have a game” – that are preferable to other options. Discipleship is essential, not optional. Parents are not the only ones to hinder children by failing to properly understand discipleship; the church must also understand this need as she must recognize her place in supporting the discipleship of children.

7. Assuming the worst about (your) children. 

 Parents can hinder their children by assuming the worst about them. Having a low view of your children can be disheartening, frustrating, and defeating. Assuming the worst about your children speaks to your low view of them, but more importantly, it speaks to your low view of God and your lack of hope that He can work in their lives.

8. Assuming the best about (your) children. 

 While assuming the worst about your children is harmful, assuming the best about them can be equally harmful. Parents who interact with their child or respond to situations as if the child has never done anything wrong are deceiving themselves and ignoring the sin nature that the Bible makes clear. A head-in-the-sand approach that says “My kid would never do that” is not giving their child credit but rather preparing him poorly for accountability, authority, and consequences. 

9. Exposing them to things that harm their souls. 

 It is helpful to learn the difference between quarantine and inoculation, and then it is useful to learn to appropriate their use. While children should not be unnecessarily exposed to temptation and evil, neither must they be overly protected from reality and instruction on proper evaluation and decision-making. Overuse of quarantine indicates a discrediting of the sin nature and an assumption that, without exposure, children will remain good. Proper use of inoculation recognizes the sin nature and the reality of living in a fallen world. 

10. Affirming a partial or incomplete confession of faith. 

 Affirming faith too early can be disastrous to a child’s relationship with Christ. It seems adults often fear losing a child by ignoring or rejecting a child’s good intentions, which leads to prematurely affirming faith. The proper response, though, is to affirm exactly what the child has done; affirm the child’s steps toward faith. Acknowledge the child, affirm him, but do not circumvent the work of God in the child’s life by affirming faith that is not present. There is no kid-friendly version of the gospel. Of course, the gospel is shallow enough for children and, at the same time, deep enough for scholars, but there is only one gospel. 

If our leading children to the arms of Jesus is loving them, then hindering children from following Jesus is as hating them. These ten ways we hinder our children are real, and they are prevalent, and certainly there are more. Let us then show them the way to Jesus and not hinder them. As we seek to honor Christ and lead our children to Him, we are calling the church to a Night of Prayer and Fasting this Wednesday, June 22 at 6:30pm. Let’s join together in intercession for our children.