What to say when your child wants to become a Christian…

When a child begins to ask questions about faith, conversion, and what it means to follow Jesus, we hope this guide will equip you for the conversation.

Words Can Be Confusing!

If you have grown up in a church setting, you have probably heard the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” a thousand times. This is a way to talk about the decision a person can make to follow Jesus. Unfortunately, when talking about salvation in this way, the emphasis is often on a one-time prayer a child can pray instead of a deliberate pattern to follow Jesus with everything they’ve got. While we do agree that there is a moment of conversion, we don’t want it to stop there. That is just the beginning of the life Jesus invites us to enjoy!

What A Life of Faith Means:

If a child thinks they are “asking Jesus into their heart” so they can go to heaven, then that’s great! What an exciting moment! However, this is just the beginning. God doesn’t want someone to pray a simple prayer in order to “check the box.” Instead, God longs for us to know Him and follow Him throughout all of life.

What Kids Understand:

  • God is perfect and He created everything. That means God made you! Since God created everything, He is in charge. (Genesis 1:1)
  • People are not in charge. God asks us to trust Him! But we choose to do it our own way. That is called sin. And we do this over, and over, and over again. (Romans 3:23)
  • This means we are in big trouble. We deserve a big consequence—being sent away from God. Being separated from God means we should also be separated from everything that is good. This is really bad news for us. (Romans 6:23)
  • But God wants us to be with Him. God’s love is personal. He knows every person individually and loves us personally. So, He began his rescue plan. He left heaven and came to us. He did this in the form of a person named Jesus. (Matthew 1:23)
  • Jesus showed us how God wants people to live. He showed God’s love to others—the rich, poor, sick, healthy, and everyone in between. But there’s more…
  • God really does want us to be with Him—not separated from Him! Jesus made a way for this to happen. He stood in for us and took our punishment. He died so that we didn’t have to be separated from God and all that is good. (John 3:16, Romans 5:8)
  • But Jesus didn’t stay dead! In fact, he came back to life and invited his followers—and you!—to follow him. When you trust and follow Jesus, he leads you back to the goodness of God—the relationship you were designed to most enjoy! And one day, he is coming back to make everything new and good again!
  • He invites you to trust Him and experience His love for you. 

God Living in You!

The best part is this: When a person chooses to become a Christ-follower, God promises to fill this person with His power by living within him or her! (1 Corinthians 3:16) While we might not see Him or feel Him, He promises to be with us every moment of the day, giving us the power we need to follow Him! The really good news is not that we accept Jesus but that he accepts us and invites us back to him to join in the work of restoring the world which He has made.

There might be a moment when your child “gets it,” or it might be a gradual understanding that is gained in time. There is not a one-size-fits-all conversion experience. No matter what your child’s experience looks like, we encourage you to invite your child to follow you as you follow Christ.

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God’s Plans Never Fail {Unit 3}

Welcome to 2017! We’re starting off the new year by teaching kids that God has a perfect plan to save his creation. Take a look at what we’ll be learning this month!

Big Picture Question: What can stop God’s plan? Nothing can stop God’s perfect plan.

Key Passage: “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” (Genesis 26:24)

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The Stolen Blessing Genesis 25:27-34; 27:1-45 | Jacob stole Esau’s blessing.

God told Rebekah while she was pregnant that her older son (Esau) would serve her younger son (Jacob). This was unheard of! Typically, upon the death of his father, the older brother would receive for his birthright twice as much property and goods as the younger. But Esau gave it to Jacob for a hot bowl of stew. Later, Jacob wore his brother’s clothes and lied to his father to receive a special blessing Isaac meant to bestow on Esau, which made Jacob master over Esau—just as God had said. This story points forward to Jesus—Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15), and He deserves all the privileges afforded to Him. But when Jesus hung on the cross, He gave up His blessing for us. Jesus took the punishment we deserve so that the Father would give us the blessing Jesus deserves.

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Jacob’s New Name  Genesis 32–33 | God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, the name of God’s covenant people.

After Jacob ran away from Esau, he lived with his uncle Laban for many years. God kept His promise to bless Jacob with a large family and riches, but now God said it was time for Jacob to return home. Jacob was uncertain because the last time he had seen Esau, Esau wanted to kill Jacob. So Jacob prepared for the meeting with Esau; he strategically divided his family into separate groups and sent gifts ahead of them to appease Esau. That night, Jacob anxiously awaited word from Esau. He then encountered the Lord and wrestled with him. Jacob didn’t win by strength, but by confessing his dependence on God’s blessing. Jacob knew his own strength wasn’t enough; he held onto God and would not let go. God graciously blessed Jacob and gave him a new name, Israel. From Jacob’s descendants—from the nation of Israel—God would bring into the world His Son, Jesus.

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Joseph Sent to Egypt • Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1–41:57 | God used Joseph’s suffering for good.

When Jacob grew up, he had 12 sons, but his favorite son was Joseph. Jacob didn’t hide his favoritism and Joseph’s brothers were jealous. When Joseph told his brothers about the dream he had that they would one day bow down to him, they hated him so much they threw him into a pit with the intent to kill him. Then they figured they’d make a profit by selling him to people taking slaves to Egypt, where he was sold into Potiphar’s house. But God was with him—even when Potiphar’s wife had Joseph thrown into prison for something he didn’t do. God had a great plan that included raising Joseph into a position of power in Egypt. Remind your kids that nothing could stop God’s perfect plan to send Jesus through the family of Israel.

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Joseph’s Dreams Came True • Genesis 42:1–46:34; 50:15-21 | God sent Joseph to Egypt to establish a remnant.

After Joseph became second-in-command of Egypt, the seven years of plenty had passed and the people were two years into a time of famine. Even Jacob’s family in Canaan needed food, so ten of Jacob’s sons went to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph was in charge of distributing the food and he recognized his brothers immediately, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph put his brothers through a series of tests, accusing them of being spies and ordering them to return with their youngest brother, Benjamin. Finally, he revealed his identity, and they were terrified. Joseph was in position to exact revenge, but instead Joseph showed them grace. Joseph explained that even though his brothers intended harm, God intended his good. Joseph invited his family to come to Egypt where they could thrive—and they did! God kept His promise, and through the nation of Israel, He worked out His plan of redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ.

What a wise and good God we have! For more about Sunday morning lessons and at-home conversations, check out the Big Picture Cards for Families and other resources from The Gospel Project Blog. Happy New Year!

New Prayer for a New Year

Happy New Year! During this time of New Year’s Resolutions, many are beginning gym memberships and reading plans, or setting new budgets for money and time. Maybe this year you’re thinking about a new approach to prayer. Maybe you’re thinking about new approaches to your kiddos.

We found this nifty tool to help you form your own new approach to praying for your kids. This guide to praying for children from Elisa Pulliam’s blog, More To Be, invites you to:

  • Create a routine and timeline for prayer that works for you—including establishing accountability and celebration as you achieve your goal.
  • Answer specific questions about your child as an individual, so you can discern how to prayer uniquely for him or her.
  • Pray in response to Scripture, and also pray the very words of Scripture, for you and your kids—acknowledging God’s promises with both raw authenticity and hope.

This four-page guide is targeted toward moms, but can certainly be used by fathers as well. It even includes a little cutout of prayer prompts—specific ideas of ways to pray for your kids. This is conveniently in the shape of a bookmark, so you can be reminded to pray for your kids whenever you open whatever book you are currently exploring.

We’re excited to begin this new year with you, and look forward to the ways prayer will change us and our children as we move toward the Father in humility and trust. Happy 2017!

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Christmas Is Coming!

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Hi there!

Christmas is just around the corner! We wanted to give you some last-minute ideas for ways to keep Jesus at the center during the next couple of days. These are just a few idea-starters from the We Are That Family blog and MinistryLift.

  • Hide the baby Jesus from a Nativity set and search for him on Christmas morning, or wrap him as a gift and open it as the very first Christmas gift!
  • Play Christmas Bingo! See this template provided by Focus on the Family.
  • Read the book, The Jesse Tree, and/or create one of your own!
  • Celebrate Jesus’ birthday! You can have a party, with a cake and party hats, and think of ways to give gifts to Jesus—like blessing someone else in need, or dedicating a few hours each week for a special time of worship.
  • Talk about the spiritual significance of some traditional Christmas symbols–such as candles and Christmas lights, which represent Christ as the light of the world (John 8:12).

We hope to see you on Christmas Eve at Bend High! We pray that you experience God’s love and joy fully this Christmas.

 

God’s Plan: Send Jesus!

Hello Church Family!

It’s Advent season and we can’t wait to teach kids about God’s amazing plan to send His Son Jesus to rescue us so we would be able to spend forever with God! Below is a summary of what kids will learn this unit, December 4th-18th.

Big Picture Question: Why was Jesus born? Jesus was born to rescue us from sin.

Key Passage: “But when the set time had finally come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

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Angels spoke to Mary and Joseph • Luke 1:26-56; Matthew 1:18-24 | God chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus.

Angels announced the birth of Jesus to Mary and Joseph. God chose Mary and Joseph to be the earthly parents of Jesus by grace, not because of anything they did to deserve it. Jesus’ birth fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of God providing a Savior for His people. God the Son has always existed, but He took on humanity so that He could live a life full of obedience to the Father, then die paying the sin penalty owed because of people’s sin, and finally rise again from the dead proving that He has power over the grave. We encourage you to help your kids keep Jesus’ purpose in coming to earth central as they celebrate the Christmas season!

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Jesus Was Born • Luke 2:1-20 | Jesus was born to be God’s promised Savior.

It was fitting that Jesus was born in a manger and that the first people to hear about His arrival were the shepherds in the fields. Shepherds were outcasts from society. When God announced the birth of Jesus to them first, God was declaring that the Savior was for all types of people everywhere. Help your children develop a heart for all people this Christmas season no matter what language the speak, what they look like, or where they live!

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Wise Men Visited Jesus • Matthew 2:1-21 | The wise men worshiped Jesus as King.

Wise men traveled from far away to worship Jesus as King. King Herod, on the other hand, was nearby but He wanted to destroy Jesus instead because he felt threatened. Jesus is the true King, promised in 2 Samuel 7, who is worthy of our worship. Help your kids find meaningful and sincere ways to worship Jesus this week as they continue to celebrate the birth of Jesus even after Christmas day has passed!

 

As always, don’t forget to utilize the free Gospel Project for Kids Family App, and check out the Big Picture Cards for Families for more ways to interact with the Bible content each week.

Merry Christmas!!

 

 

My Child Wants to Get Baptized!

 

We love it when kids start asking about baptism! We also know kids can ask tough questions. Below you will find a guide  to help you answer the questions a child might ask about baptism!

When a person chooses to follow Jesus, Jesus invites him or her to be baptized. But what is baptism?

  • When you get baptized, think of it as the day you tell your family, friends, and strangers that you are on the greatest adventure of your life—following Jesus! When you get baptized, it shows people why you have chosen to follow Jesus. In fact, you are reenacting the story! Jesus came to us, died on the cross (you stand in the water), was buried (you go under the water), and came back to life (you stand again)!
  • It’s your chance to give Jesus the credit. You know Jesus was beyond generous in taking the punishment for your sin. You can hardly believe it—it’s such a good thing that Jesus has done for you!
  • You want to tell everyone! You want everyone to know this good news—that God loves us and wants us to follow Him. Getting baptized in a public place allows you to tell everyone around that you intend to follow Jesus with all of your energy, money, and passion—and invites them to do so, too!
  • You need to identify yourself. Getting baptized allows other people to identify you as a follower of Jesus. You want to make sure people know what team you are on and that the leader you are following is Jesus!
  • You want to find your people. There are many other people who have chosen to follow Jesus, also. Knowing each other allows you to encourage one another, serve each other, and work together as you all follow Jesus. Getting baptized tells other people you are a follower of Christ, too!
  • You want to receive God’s power. Getting baptized is an opportunity for you to receive power from the Holy Spirit for this great adventure to which He has called you and which you have chosen.
  • You want to celebrate! Jesus has given you a new life with a new purpose! This is the best news ever! Baptism is a celebration of God’s work in your life as you eagerly await being with God in His kingdom where everything is good again!

What now? 

At Antioch, it is significant to us to baptize individuals who want to make this public profession of faith. We encourage you, the parent, to enter into intentional dialogue with your child and also provide strategic experiences designed to help your child follow Jesus. Below are some creative ways to encourage a child’s faith before getting baptized:

  1. Learn From Others—Encourage your child to interview a few people who are influential in his or her faith (grandparents, family friends, etc.). Ask to hear about the time they got baptized—make sure to ask why they chose to be baptized! Conclude the conversation by asking about favorite Bible verses then memorize these verses before getting baptized.
  2. Experience Journal—Encourage your child to journal his or her thoughts prior to getting baptized using the following prompts:
    1. I believe God loves me—I know He does because…
    2. I want to get baptized because…
    3. Jesus, following you changes everything. How can I use my time/energy/talents/money to show your love to others?

To find out about the next baptism at Antioch, email us by clicking here!

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What is Child Dedication?

It is an exciting experience when a new child enters a family! In this moment, it is easy to sense that children are a good gift from God. In this joyful season, we encourage parents to recognize each child as a gift from God and then dedicate themselves to teaching their child about God.

What is child dedication?

A child dedication ceremony encourages parents to recognize that children belong first to God. God, in His goodness and love, creates and then gives each child to his or her parents. Parents are then given the responsibility to care for and enjoy this gift. Since children first belong to God, it is fitting that we acknowledge this. This ceremony also allows parents to commit to raising their child in a manner which pleases God, with the hope that the child will know Jesus, love him, and serve him throughout his or her life. A child dedication is both a dedication of a child and a dedication of their parents.

What can I do as a parent to ensure my child knows about God?

As parents, this can sound intimidating. Instead of making it your goal to have godly kids, we encourage you to make it your goal that your child would have godly parents. When a child observes his or her parent learning about God and working to obey God, an amazing example is set. During this dedication, we encourage parents to devote themselves to setting an example of an authentic relationship with God that a child could emulate down the road. In Deuteronomy 6:4-7, the advice is given to talk to a child about God all throughout the day—as you are sitting in your house, walking down the street, and wherever you go!

Is child dedication found in the Bible?

There is no command in scripture to participate in this type of ceremony. However, there is a tradition throughout the story of the Bible where God invites His people to bring children before Him—to dedicate the child to Him and commit as parents to raising the child according to God’s instruction. In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah presented her son, Samuel, to the Lord. In Luke 2, Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to present him before the Lord. In the same way, parents are invited to present themselves and their child to God.

What is my role as a parent in this child dedication? 

During the dedication, we ask that you or your spouse read a letter of dedication. This letter should express your intention to raise your child to know who God is and what He desires of His creation. The form of the letter can be a prayer (God, we ask that as we raise our child, you would give us wisdom…), it can be an actual note to the child ([Your child’s name], We promise to love you and support you…), or it could be a combination of the two. After you read this letter, you will be invited to dedicate yourself to live as a fully devoted disciple of Jesus so your child can follow you as you follow Christ. Then, the church community is invited to support your child and family in this endeavor.

We want to do this! Now what?

Awesome! Please contact us by clicking here and a date can be scheduled.

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Our Covenant-Making God

Hello parents!

We’re excited to begin our second unit of The Gospel Project for Kids! Over the next three weeks, kids will learn that God is a covenant-making God. Below is a summary of the passages and main points for Unit 2.

Unit 2 Key Passage: “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Big Picture Question: What did God promise? God made a covenant to bless His people.

Session 1 | God’s Covenant with Abraham (Nov 6th)

Bible Passage: Genesis 12:1-3; 15:1-21; 17:1-9

Main Point: God promised to bless all the world through Abraham.

Session 2 | God Tested Abraham (Nov 13th)

Bible Passage: Genesis 22:1-19

Main Point: Abraham trusted God, even when he didn’t understand God’s plan.

Session 3 | The Promise Reaffirmed (Nov 27th)

Bible Passage: Genesis 25:19-26; 26:1-6; 28:10-22

Main Point: God reminded Abraham’s family that He always keeps His promises.

In Session 1, kids will learn how God spoke to Abram, calling him to leave behind his family and his lands to go to a place God would show him. God made a covenant with Abram, promising to bless all the world through one of his descendants (Gen 12:1-3). By faith, Abram obeyed. God was serious about the covenant; He always keeps His promises. God even changed Abram’s name to Abraham, which means “Father of a Multitude.” God promised to bless all the earth through Abraham. At just the right time, Jesus was born into Abraham’s family. (Gal. 4:4-5) Jesus fulfilled God’s promise to Abraham. (See Gal. 3:8.) Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Through Him, all the nations of the earth are blessed.

In Session 2, our journey takes us to an event that occurred after Abraham and Sarah had their son of promise, Isaac. Abraham received another message from God. It was a test, actually. God instructed Abraham to take his son Isaac, the son of promise, and sacrifice him on a mountain God would tell him about. Abraham had waited so many years for this child! But what did Abraham do? He woke up early the next morning and set out with Isaac to do what God commanded. By this point, Abraham had supreme faith that God was able to do anything. Hebrews 11:17-19 gives us a peek inside Abraham’s mind: “He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead.” Abraham showed both his love for God and his trust in Him by being willing to sacrifice his son Isaac. God provided a ram for the burnt offering in place of Isaac, who was spared. This is how God showed His love for us: He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross so that we could have eternal life through Him.

In Session 3’s Bible story, God reaffirmed the promise to Abraham’s son Isaac and to his grandson Jacob (Gen. 26:3-4; 28:13-14). When Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, became pregnant with twins, the babies struggled with each other in her womb. God explained their future. The older son (Esau) would serve the younger (Jacob). Their families would separate and become two nations, one stronger than the other. These things came true, but not in the way Isaac’s family would have expected. Jacob tricked his father and brother to steal the blessing. To escape his brother’s anger, Jacob fled to his uncle’s house. On the way, God spoke to Jacob in a dream. Jacob saw a stairway to heaven, and he saw God there. God repeated the promise to Jacob. He promised to be with Jacob. Explain to your kids that, like the stairway in Jacob’s dream, Jesus bridges the gap between heaven and earth. (See John 1:51.) Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Sin separates people from God, but when people turn from their sin and trust in Jesus, Jesus brings them into God’s family.

We can’t wait to dive into this exciting unit where we learn about the amazing God who loves us and keeps His promises! Check out the Gospel Project for Kids Family App or the Big Picture Cards for Families (click here for Preschool & Elementary cards) for ways to interact with the Bible content each week. We’ll see you soon!

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