Showing posts with label Witnessing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Witnessing. Show all posts

May 15, 2013

How to Bring Your Children to Christ - Plus a FREE Lesson Plan

"How to Bring Your Children to Christ is a book every parent should read..."

As a mother, there is nothing I desire more than for my children to know and serve God and be saved through Jesus Christ. Yet I see that:
  • 88% of children raised in Christian homes leave the church at the age of 18 - and don't return (SBC)
  • 64% of "decisions for Christ" are made before age 18. 77% are made before age 21 (Barna).
  • An estimated 4% of Gen Y are likely to be Christians in adulthood. 65% of their grandparents’ generation were Christians; 35% of their parents' generation were Christians. (Bridger Generation by Thom S. Rainer).
I've blogged before about some of my thoughts on why many children are falling away from God. But Ray Comfort, in his book How to Bring Your Children to Christ...& Keep Them There: Avoiding the Tragedy of False Conversion really gets at the heart of it: Many of our churches, our pastors, our youth leaders, and parents have stepped away from the biblical way of bringing people to Christ.

Comfort's premise is pretty simple. While no parent can do anything that will, with 100% certainty, bring her child to Christ, she can follow the principles laid out in the New Testament: Teach the 10 Commandments in such a way the person (in this case, your child) truly feels the tragedy of his or her sin. Then teach that person to dedicate himself to the Bible, prayer, and obeying God.

Comfort does a good job of laying out how you might do this with your child, explaining why it's important to discuss more difficult topics like Hell, and how to explain all of the 10 Commandments in a way that even young children can comprehend. He also offers plenty of ideas for the language you might use, and activities that will aid your "presentation." (My kids' favorite was when I "stole" money from their father's wallet to illustrate that even stealing something worth very little - a penny - is still stealing in God's sight. My daughter, especially, liked it when I took her favorite stuffed animal and loved it so much I neglected all else; this gave her a vivid example of loving one of God's gifts more than loving the Giver of gifts.)

How to Bring Your Children to Christ is a book every parent should read, even if she thinks her child is already saved. It not only helps to ensure your child really "gets it," but it also makes it easier for you to act as missionary in your home - and beyond.

I liked this book so well, in fact, I typed out a lesson plan to use with my 7 year old daughter. Her understanding of faith is very good, and she "asked Jesus into her heart" several years ago, but this is a lesson children should hear repeatedly throughout their life.

The lesson plan is based almost exclusively on Comfort's book, but I found it easier to have all the information in an easier-to-read-as-I-teach format. It also includes links to helpful, free, games and songs you can use to help your child memorize the 10 Commandments. You can download the lesson plan in Word format here.

Feb 15, 2013

Raising Mission-Minded Kids, Part 2 {Guest Blogger Tanya Dennis}

Wednesday, I introduced the topic of raising mission-minded kids. We talked about exciting their spirits and equipping them to share. Today we’ll dive into a third element: Elevating their global awareness. This encompasses both education and action. Below you’ll find a number of resources for teaching your kids about missions and global cultures and concerns, but you’ll also find practical ideas for getting personally involved in missions, right where you are.

Educational Resources
You can raise cultural awareness in many ways. Geography and language study are obvious choices, but they’re only two avenues. Consider taking field trips to cultural fairs, ethnic celebrations and museums. Invite multi-cultural friends over for an international potluck or explore exoticflavors with your own culinary experiments. The possibilities are endless! Here are a few of my favorite books and websites to get you started:

·         Passport to the World {book} Written by Craig Froman, this book offers fast facts, cultural details, tons of photos and interesting stats about 26 different countries. All of this is presented from a missional perspective of reaching the world for God’s glory.
Target Age: 9-12

·         A Faith Like Mine {book} : This is not a Christian book, but it is an excellent resource for teaching children about major world religions. Vibrant photographs, maps and symbols help introduce 11 different faiths, including Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. It discusses their basic tenets, major holidays, traditions and unique characteristics.
Target age: 8 and up

·         My Passport to India {website} : This is my absolute favorite! I wish one existed for every country. This site features high quality videos with excellent content. Families follow an American guy as he explores India: the culture, the people and what God is doing there. It also includes family devotionals and activities for further exploration and involvement.
Target age: 6 and up

·         Quest for Compassion {website} : Hosted by Compassion, Intl., this website offers an interactive exploration of four countries: El Salvador, Brazil, Ghana and Bangladesh. Kids create a buddy character and then embark on a cultural scavenger hunt to learn about education, economics, living conditions and more in that country.
Target age: 6-10

·         The Caravan {website} : Hosted by IMB, this site explores the continent of Asia with all sorts of activities! Photographs, maps, stories, printables, coloring pages … seriously, a ton of stuff. There is also a tab with helps for parents and teachers.
Target age: Preschool – 6th grade

Ideas for At-Home Missions

Continuing our pattern of concentric circles, let’s start at home. Before children can care what happens on the other side of the planet, they need to care about what happens near home. What can they see that might increase their compassions and awareness? Here are some activities to initiate service and conversations:

·         Neighborhood Prayer Walks: A prayer walk is exactly what it sounds like – you walk around a neighborhood praying for each person you see and home you pass. It’s easy to do with your children and need not be conspicuous. Simply go for a walk. The benefits include exercise, prayer training, community awareness, and possible interactions with neighbors that could lead to opportunities to share the Gospel or serve in tangible ways.

Extend Invitations: Kids love inviting friends to anything – VBS, Sunday School, church clubs … whatever! Encourage them to do just that. It’s simple, friendly and free of pressure.  

·         Participate in Service Projects: Every community offers abundant opportunities to serve, regardless of your children’s ages. When my kids were toddlers, we would prepare and deliver meals for shut-ins or new mothers. We still do that, but now we also help by shoveling snow, raking leaves or weeding gardens for our neighbors. We’ve participated in mural painting projects, food banks and coat drives. My kids’ favorite activities, however, involve hosting garage sales or lemonade and cookie stands to raise money for orphanages or our local crisis pregnancy center.

·         Donations: Got clutter? Use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about poverty and missions!

©Sipaphoto/StockFreeImages.com
Ideas for Reaching Abroad

You don’t have to leave your home to make an impact overseas, but you do need to be intentional and take the initiative. Here are some reasons to do that and tips on how to start.

Most missionaries say feeling isolated is their greatest struggle. They don’t fit in there and they don’t fit in here; they feel nomadic. By building relationships with these families already on the field, you’ll encourage them while gaining an indispensable education for yourself and your children. Relationships are the foundation to healthy partnerships – and that’s exactly what missions should be!

·         Adopt a Child: For a monthly donation, you can adopt a child through Compassion International, World Vision or a number of similar organizations. You can correspond with these children and their families; learn about their lives and what struggles they face. If sponsoring a child is too much, consider a one-time gift of farm animals, medications or other necessities.

·         Adopt a Missionary: Select one or two families that you know or that your church supports and get to know them. Post their picture in your home. Talk about them with your kids. PRAY for them regularly. Try to reach out to them consistently. Once every couple months is fine. Let them know that you care and are interested in what they’re doing. Thanks to the internet, this is much easier than it used to be. Imagine having your kids Skype with someone in Kenya or Tibet! How fun (and educational) could that be?

·         Send Care Packages: Little things from home can make a big impact. When I lived in Bosnia, we couldn’t find ketchup or peanut butter. One day a box arrived with two bottles of Heinz57 and a jar of Jiffy. You would have thought we’d won the lottery! Due to customs regulations, be sure to check with the missionaries or mission agencies before sending anything. Some countries get a bit tricky.

·         Champion Specific Projects: Perhaps your family could sponsor a well in Africa or help build a school for girls in India. You could host a shoe drive in your community or partner with your adopted missionary family on something specific they need.

·         Visit or Participate in Short-Term Trips: Most recommend that your kids be at least thirteen before joining a team mission trip, but there are no specific limits to visits. If you build a good relationship with a missionary family, why not spend your family vacation in service to them? You’ll get to see first-hand the people and ministries you’ve actively prayed for.


Armed with three ridiculous French phrases, Tanya Dennis taught ESL to Chinese students in German-speaking Switzerland. This after working as a church planter in urban Philadelphia and a humanitarian worker in war-torn Bosnia. Her current role, as mother of two, has proven to be the most challenging. Learn more about her and what she's doing now at www.TanyaDennisBooks.com.

Feb 13, 2013

Raising Mission-Minded Kids, Part 1 {Guest Blogger Tanya Dennis}



Each time I talk about raising mission-minded kids, I see moms’ eyes go wide. They envision their precious babies leaving them bereft and alone, and surely taking any future grandkids to a far-off tribal location where they’ll probably die of some third-world disease.

RELAX. I have no intention of stealing your children or guilting you into releasing them to demise. Quite the contrary, actually. I want you to be blessed. I want your children to be blessed.  How do we do that? By loving God fully and participating in what He is doing. 

And what is God doing? He is pursing the hearts of the lost and growing the hearts of His children. That’s missions. It doesn’t have to include a jungle or deep-fried cockroaches. It’s simply a willingness to love Him fully and share Him with those who need Him. 

The Great Commission Starts at Home

The Holy Spirit challenged the early church to be “witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth. “ (Acts 1:8) Looking at a map of theselocations, you’ll notice this call expands in concentric circles. This presents a great pattern for us, too. The Great Commission starts at home, then spreads outward, perhaps to your neighborhood, then your broader community and so on. You don’t have to rush to Siberia. Look in your backyard first. It’s the perfect place to start.

Raising mission-minded kids involves three things:
  1. Exciting their spirits
  2. Equipping them to share
  3. Elevating their global awareness
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.

How to Excite their Spirits


Share engaging stories. Get them excited about God’s goodness and the extent of his love with truths from the Bible and contemporary examples. Read biographies of missionaries or historical figures that have made an impact on the world around them. Tell them about Paul and Barnabas, about the glories of grace and truth, the miracles of redemption and salvation. The stories of Jim Elliott, Corrie ten Boom and Amy Carmichael are excellent options. Search Christian Children's Book Review for age-appropriate choices.

One of my favorites is The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrews. This book is not about missions, but about history and the rippling impact of small actions. A sparkle of hope ignites my kids’ eyes as we read it. They see that God wants to use them to reach the world right where they are. I love it! 

How to Equip Them to Share

Get out of the way. Kids naturally share what they believe and what excites them. If you excite them about God and what He’s doing, you’ll have more trouble getting them to stop talking than getting them to start sharing. Trust me. When we switched to public schools two years ago my daughter, then seven years old, accosted everyone she met with the love of Jesus. It was a beautifully fearsome thing to behold.

Be an example. If you share Christ freely, your kids will, too. You don’t need to start a street ministry or go door-to-door with tracts. You can, if you want to, but natural evangelism tends to work best – and it’s far less intimidating! Simply be open with your faith. Look for opportunities to incorporate elements of the Gospel into everyday conversations. Point out tangible examples of grace. Ask a friend if you may pray with her or for him about a present trial. Inquire about their beliefs and listen. Ask God to provide open doors and the courage to walk through them. And let your kids watch.

How to Elevate Global Awareness

This step I find most fun. So fun, in fact, that I don’t have space to tell you about it here! You’ll have to come back Friday for tips about prayer walks, pen pals, international dinners, and active partnerships. If you’re a Christian homeschooler, you’ll love this. The resources cross-over geography, social studies and Bible study.

Your Turn: I want to know what you find to be the most exciting truth about God’s character. How can you share that with your kids (or your neighbor) tonight?

Armed with three ridiculous French phrases, Tanya Dennis taught ESL to Chinese students in German-speaking Switzerland. This after working as a church planter in urban Philadelphia and a humanitarian worker in war-torn Bosnia. Her current role, as mother of two, has proven to be the most challenging. Learn more about her and what she's doing now at www.TanyaDennisBooks.com.

Apr 9, 2012

Love Your Enemies...and Watch What God Does!

As human beings, we naturally become perturbed with people who oppose us or who just plain aren't nice. But as my 6 year old daughter says, "Jesus didn't say 'love people unless they are mean.' He said, 'Love your enemies. Do good to them.'" She's a smart girl. (See Luke 6:27-28.)

When we obey, God does amazing things.

For example, last December atheist Patrick Greene attacked threatened to sue over the presence of a nativity scene in Texas. But in March, a church in the area learned he had a serious eye condition that could cause blindness. In obedience to Jesus, they reached out to Greene and provided him with groceries to get him through this difficult time. Now this month, it's reported Greene has accepted Christ - much to the surprise of his still-atheist wife.

And while mature Christians will disagree with some of Greene's ideas about the Bible (as reported in the news account above), I think we can all agree that going from an angry atheist to a follower of Christ is a radical transformation - one that came about because a group of Christians followed Jesus' powerful word.

So next time a Christ-hater makes you want to slug 'em, take a deep breath, remember Jesus' commandments, and ask that God make it possible for you to affect that person in a life changing way: Through love.

UPDATE 5/8/12: Apparently, Greene's conversation wasn't authentic. In a recent news story, he says it lasted less than a week; the reporter says Greene was moved by his enemies' love and "merely captivated by the intensity and excitement of the situation." However, this essence of this post is still true: By obeying God by loving our enemies, we help others - and ourselves - open up to God's greatness.

Mar 7, 2012

Priorities: Politics vs. the Soul

We live in an era of opinions divided by a vast gulf. Because of this, it's easy to get sucked into debates that, frankly, lead to no where and are therefore a waste of time. Few people really want to hear what you think and often don't want to be "confused by the facts." And as we head further into this year, I imagine there will only be more hot conversations between relatives, among acquaintances, and on social media.

But as Proverbs 31 Women, we are to speak "with wisdom." Therefore, we need to steal ourselves against conversations that produce bitterness or biblical foolishness. And while we should have "faithful instruction...on [our] tongue[s]," we need to stop and consider what sort of instruction the Bible speaks of. I guarantee it doesn't have anything to do with politics.

Believe me when I say it's difficult for me not to argue with others about history and politics. (The two go hand in hand). But the truth is, rather than try to change anyone's ideology, we really need to focus on spirit.

Some worry about citizens loosing their freedoms, but there is no real freedom without Christ. Instead of harping on politics, we need to focus on loving those who disagree with us and remembering the Great Commission to teach others about Jesus.

For among those who truly love and serve Christ, there can be no serious debate about where the world is headed and where the soul must go.


Jan 30, 2012

The Missionary at the Door

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations..."
Matt. 28:19

"To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter."

I'm in the middle of reading Ray Comfort's The Evidence Bible - a poorly titled book that uses some books of the Bible to help Christians understand that God wants us all involved in evangelism - evangelism of a biblical fashion. As I read it, I'm struck by the thought that for the average stay at home mom, evangelizing to those who are going door to door preaching is a not to be missed opportunity.

I admit that in the past I've hesitated to engage those who come to my door for religious reasons. Part of my reluctance was that I had small (and demanding) children waiting for me. And part of my reluctance was not wanting to get caught up in an argument that would lead no where. But my views have changed. I know that while I probably won't have a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness - the missionaries who usually visit my home - repent at my doorstep, I can at least plant some seeds. This isn't hard to do, even if you have young children - as long as you plan ahead. Here's what I suggest - always using a most respectful and loving tone:

Step 1: Ask the person at your door who Jesus was. If their answer is not that Jesus was God, who suffered and died to pay the price for our sins, then you know you are talking to someone who is not a Christian - even if they think of themselves as one.

Step 2: Open your Bible to the book of Hebrews. (I don't recommend asking the visitor to open his or her Bible, since it's my understanding some religious groups alter their Bible's wording, apart from any of the well known translations.) Within a few verses, you'll read that God says Jesus is higher than the angels, that he told the angels to worship Jesus, and that God said to Jesus, "You are God."

Jehovah's Witnesses: If your visitor is a Jehovah's Witness, know that his or her church teaches Jesus is God's literal son - and an angel. The Hebrews passage, then, makes it absolutely clear Jesus was not an angel. To argue it away means you can't read the Bible by itself - you must add other, non-biblical religious writings - something you can politely point out.

Mormons: If your visitor is a Mormon, know that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints teaches that Jesus is Savior, God's literal son - and a god. This is distinct from believing Jesus is God.

Both: Jehovah Witnesses belief in salvation by works; baptism is also a requirement for salvation. Morman ideas about salvation are also extra-biblical. So you might ask: "What do you have to do to go to Heaven?" A biblical response is that we must repent of our sins (Rom. 3:23, Rom. 6:23), believe Jesus is God, know that Jesus paid the price for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3-6, Rom. 10:9), and do our best to obey him every day (John 14:15,21-24, 1 John 3:18, Rom. 13:8-10; 1 John 2:5). Salvation comes from God's love and grace, not through works, as Ephesians 2:8-9 makes clear.


That's it! You've just given your visitor food for thought. You've planted a seed. In about 10 minutes, you've shown a person who has a desire to follow God where they can find him.

To make the process even easier, I suggest you use color coded sticky notes to mark pertinent passages in a Bible you keep right by the door.
(Or you could print out this post and keep it in your Bible.)

Oct 4, 2011

A John 3:16 Discount

Perhaps you've heard about the Texas business owner who made national news by offering a "John 3:16 discount." By reciting the Bible verse ("For God so loved the world, he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will have eternal life."), finding and reading the verse off their internet-connected phone, or by reading it from the business owner's own wall, customers can get a $15 discount on an oil change.

Owner Charlie Whittington says "I really believe if you talk more positive stuff you get more positive things out of it,” he says. “I want to inspire people to look where they can do more.” In short, the discount gives him something to discuss with customers - and those who are interested in his faith have an easy opening to ask him about it.

I confess I love this idea. What a fun way to meet fellow believers, and perhaps inspire others to pick up their dusty Bibles. It reminds me a lot of how Jesus approached the woman at the well in John 4, and I wonder how we can apply Whittington's idea to our own lives.

What do you think?

Sep 10, 2010

Be a Bible Smuggler

You and your children can be Bible smugglers, help persecuted Christians throughout the world, and develop a better sense of thanksgiving - all through one free source.

Voice of the Martyrs is my favorite magazine. It's slender, but every time I receive a new copy in the mail, I can hardly wait to read it. The magazine (the publisher calls it a "newsletter," but it's full color and laid out just like a magazine) offers true stories of Christians throughout the world who are suffering persecution. In communist and Muslim-controlled areas, for example, Bibles are illegal, and so is any telling of the gospel. Yet despite this, Christians in those nations still worship God and tell others about Jesus' saving grace. Very quickly, I'm reminded just how fortunate we are to live in the United States, where Christians never wallow in filthy prisons or put their lives in danger because they love Jesus. My problems and worries seem very small, indeed, and I never fail to feel inspired by the perseverance and faith of the modern-day martyrs I read about.

Read this magazine with your children. Or, if your kids are young, show them the photographs and retell the stories in your own words. Talk about religious freedom and the spiritual, political, and religious reasons not everyone enjoys it. Together, learn about which nations restrict Christian activity, and add the martyrs you read about to your prayer lists.

Becoming a Bible smuggler is also an exciting activity to do with your children - and you can do it from the safety of your home. Voice of the Martyrs isn't just about reporting; it's about doing. They smuggle Bibles into countries where they are illegal and offer support to the families of Christians sent to prison for their faith. All through donations as small as $5. A more worthy charity there is not.




May 10, 2010

How Did Jesus Bring People to God?

Last week, my father underwent a sudden, emergency quadruple bypass. Although, of course, I was concerned about his health, what troubled me even more is that he is not saved. This got me thinking and praying more about what we mortals can do to bring people to God. Which reminded me of a wonderful resource I want to share with you: "Personal Witnessing - How Jesus Did It."

This free .PDF file looks, step by step, at how Jesus dealt with non-believers like the woman at the well, and offers some great insight into how we can mimic this in our everyday lives. Hint: It's not about being a high pressure salesman or dooms-dayer.

Please read it - and if you've a mind to do so, please pray for my dad. He got through surgery fine, but I still wish he knew Jesus.