Every Friday, I plan to share select quotes from a book I am either currently reading or have previously read. Few things have impacted my faith and life as much as reading has. This will be just one way I promote books and reading. These articles will be for the dedicated reader who loves to gain insight from as many books as possible. They will also be for the Christian looking for new books to read. I am always on the lookout for new books to read. Hopefully some things I share will lead you to pick up a new book. Finally, these articles will be for those of you too busy to read. Hopefully these quick quotes will provide you with easy access to books you would otherwise not have time to read. Each article will include a brief discussion of the author and his work followed by ten (or more) pertinent quotes from the book.
As I was looking through the books on a shelf in my study, I came across one of the best books I read in 2014. Show Them Jesus is one of those books you read quickly the first time because the content and writing style is so good. But the second time through you take time to draw out every principle and learn from each concrete example. My simple conclusion after reading this book twice over: If you teach the gospel to kids, be ashamed if you don’t have this book. Pastors should require every staff or lay leader in the church who teaches kids. Even if you only teach kids for one semester, you would immensely benefit from this book. All pastors to children or children’s ministry directors should be required to read this book.
Do I agree with every example given? No. Do I think the author could have provided a better illustration here or there? Sure. But most points of disagreement were in the realm of personal preference. The principles given for teaching the gospel to kids are biblically and theologically rich. Klumpenhower, a veteran children’s ministry curriculum writer, knows the struggles and inadequacies in most children’s curriculums. He also knows the struggle in teaching the tough parts of the Bible to kids, as well as the issue of discussing personal sin with kids. He is honest and open about the struggle, but offers no excuses for refusing to habitually lay the gospel before our kids.
Show Them Jesus is instructive. One could easily take the author’s principles and concrete examples and immediately put them to use in a children’s ministry or family devotion time. You will immediately feel the benefit of this book. I dare you to pick up a copy and not see improvement in your teaching and children’s ministry.
1. The message of Jesus’ death and resurrection is a tool of the Spirit to change hearts. Nagging is not. Rather than coax the kids into temporarily acting better, Joe told about Jesus and trusted God to use that message to make the kids become better.
2. When it comes to teaching the gospel, all of us are clumsy.
3. If you feel uncomfortable talking with your kids about how Jesus died for us, start changing that right now by building a habit of mentioning the cross.
4. A good-news teacher must not sugarcoat God’s demands.
5. The good news does not let Christianity become a guidebook by which kids adjust their lives.
6. The gospel-day trap happens when we think of the good news as very important—critical to salvation!—but as something that only some kids need to hear some of the time.
7. Kids will always choose according to their nature, and the conversion from a sinful nature to a reborn-by-the-Spirit one seldom comes by pressing for an external decision. It comes from being convicted of sin, hearing of God’s saving love, and finding delight in the matchless person of Jesus,
8. We should teach the good news with an urgency and expectation that its payoff is good behavior, or else our doctrine will be served cold. And we must teach good behavior only when we show it flowing from the good news, or else kids will choke on moralism.
9. Jesus isn’t anything like the moody, distant God many kids imagine. In Jesus, God’s absolute authority and his utter love come together—and the result is “Wow!”
10. In lesson after lesson kids need to see a thousand wonder-filled details that make up the character of Jesus, until they realize, with a gasp, that they have seen the face of God. And God is so, so good.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is the Children’s Pastor at First Baptist Church in East Bernstadt, KY. He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their son, Jude Adoniram.