Over the last week, and in the coming week, I’ll see hundreds of “first-day-of-school” pictures. That’s awesome. I’ve been working with many of your kids for years, and it’s been exciting watching them grow along with you, not just emotionally, physically, and mentally, but spiritually. And that’s the most important aspect when they head back to school. You see, we don’t want them to have a “Sunday Gospel.” That’s a really convenient thing to have. That’s easy. That’s the idea that you can learn whatever you want on Sunday, and live however you want from Monday through Saturday. No. We want them to see a life-changing Gospel. The kind that pushes them to live more like Christ every day of the week. And that’s what makes back to school important. Here are three specific ways that we work with your kids every week to make sure they’re ready to live their lives for Christ seven days a week, and how you can build on that message.
Every week, kids’ ministry leaders push as hard as they can to teach a story in a way that a kid will remember it and understand it. But they don’t just teach a story. They don’t treat your kids as some kind of information dumping ground. They know that teaching them any story in the Bible is a waste of time…unless the kids know what it means and how they can use it. It has absolutely no eternal value if someone knows the story of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection unless that person understands what it means specifically to them and how they can use it. So that’s exactly what we do every week. We fight for every inch of ground to not only teach the story, but teach the kids why it is relevant to their lives thousands of years later and how they can use it. So, when you’re sending your kids off to school, make sure they remember that the Bible affects every square inch of their lives. What’s the best way to do that? Live it out yourself.
When I was a kid, I hated memorizing two things in church: verses and the books of the Bible. I also hated memorizing the periodic table in high school, and they all shared a reason: I was going to be able to look it up whenever I wanted. Two of those held true to that statement. I am pretty much able to look up the periodic table whenever I need it (and I don’t), and every Bible still comes with a Table of Contents (and now it’s clickable). I’m not saying it’s not helpful to know the books of the Bible, I’m just saying that it’s available. But memorizing Scripture had a different effect that I didn’t understand at the time. See, Psalm 119:11 says “I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” By the way, thanks to a childhood teacher, I had that one memorized. The writer here understands the importance of not just memorizing, but allowing that to change you. He didn’t say that he “hid verses in his head.” No. He said that he had hidden God’s word in his heart. Not just words. God’s word. Not just the head. The heart. The heart was considered to be the seat of all reason, emotion, and decision-making. He is saying that he has put God’s word there in order to let it change his life. And that’s what we teach your kids. Every time we teach them a verse, we don’t just have them commit it to memory. We talk about what it means to them, and how it can change the way they live. How can you help? Learn the verse with your kids! It will also have the benefit of helping you grow.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Every time we plan a Sunday morning, this section gets to sit in the front seat and pick the radio station. James 1:22 says “but don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.” Every time a kid hears a Bible story and then gets dismissed with no explanation, no idea of why or how to use it, and no challenge of how to use it to be more like Christ, we have not fully done our jobs. We have only taught information. But application is how we become more like Christ. Application is how people know we are Christians. Application is how we become Christians. Again, it doesn’t matter if we know about Christ’s life, death, and resurrection if we don’t do something with it. And that’s not about works-based salvation. It’s not about doing something to get to heaven. It’s about letting Christ change you and letting him rescue you. So application is the king of the hill when we get ready for Sunday. And application has some far-reaching effects as well. Whenever a kid applies what they’ve learned, it doesn’t just affect them. It affects the people around them. It has an effect on their parents and on their friends. It affects their teachers and their cafeteria workers. It shows others that Christians are different, and helps the kids to reflect God’s glory. It helps them to live out the mission that Christ has given us. That’s why it gets such a heavy focus on Sunday mornings. Did you notice that the other two points also both focused on application as well as their own points? That’s how important it is. How can you help with that? Help the kids brainstorm ways that they can live out the point we made on Sunday throughout the week.