Friday, November 11, 2011

A Gift for My Children: Scripture Memorization

I am preparing a gift for my children.  One that will have immeasurable worth.  One that will serve them for the rest of their lives.  It is the gift of scripture memorization.

I have never met a Christian adult who doesn't wish they knew more of the Bible.  Did you know that most of the Bible verses or poems an adult can recite were learned by age 10?  Memorization is a natural skill for young children, and what they learn tends to stick in long-term memory.  It's as though God has given us a window of opportunity for filling our children's minds with His word.

Pathfinder Bible Achievement 2008
Photo:  Vicki Ashton

Two tools have been very helpful as we focus on memorizing Bible scriptures.

1. Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System
We spend far less time on memory work since we've started using this system, yet the time spent is far more effective.  We've made it part of our daily routine.  During breakfast, out comes the file box with memory cards.  By reviewing consistently each morning, we only spend 5 minutes per day (or less!) and see amazing results.  I simply printed out this PDF file to use as dividers for our index cards, though I'm considering adding new dividers for quarterly review for those scriptures that have been mastered.  I print out the entire Bible verse on one side of a 3x5 index card and then write the scriptural reference on the other side.  Since my son is an independent reader, he has been able to take charge of his Bible memory file box on his own. 

2. Scriptures In Song
Ever get a song stuck in your head?  As long as we are playing music for our kids, why not add a few albums of Bible scriptures set to music.  Some of our favorites are Hide 'em in Your Heart Vol. 1 by Steve Green and Seeds of Worship.  If you like the Seeds of Worship music, there are free printables for them at their website or at Bible Story Printables.  Another classic starting point for memorizing Bible verses is using the ABC Bible verses.  26 Alphabet Bible Verse Chorus Songs are a great companion to the ABC Bible Verse printables at I Can Teach My Child.  When we find an album of scriptures in song that we like, I print off cards for each scripture and add them to our Charlotte Mason Scripture Memory System.  Covenant Life Church has made free songs of Bible verses available online here so you can get started without spending a dime.  This same method can be used when memorizing entire chapters of the Bible by using resources such as those available from Thy Word Creations..

Wanting to use technology to help with the memorization of scripture?  Fighter Verses includes apps for the iPhone or Android.

What has helped your children with the memorization of scripture?  


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Breaking Down the Barriers to Family Discipleship

Here are some fast facts for you:
  • 85% of Christian parents who regularly attend church believe the primary responsibility for teaching their children about the faith rests on their shoulders.  
  • 10% of church-going families talk with their children about spiritual matters.  
  • 5% of church-going families participate in any kind of family worship (separate from a corporate worship service).
 (Are you scratching your head at these numbers?  Doesn't add up?)  The discrepancy between these figures is staggering, and it speaks to the barriers that families face in doing spiritual training in the home.

Here are just a few of the many barriers that can prevent us from following the Biblical model of discipling our own children:
  • Shifting of responsibility.  In our culture, it is very easy to shift the responsibility for the spiritual training of our children onto the church.  Yet God never intended for the church to be primarily responsible for passing the faith on to the next generation.
  • Lack of know-how.  Most parents--even if they grew up in a Christian home--have not seen family discipleship modeled.  We know we need to be doing more for our children's spiritual development than just taking them to church.  But we simply don't know what more to do.  What does family discipleship look like in everyday life?
  • Lack of support.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  When we are discouraged, we need someone to lift us up.  When we feel overwhelmed, we need emotional support.  And sometimes all we need to stay on track is someone else there telling us that we're doing the right thing. 
  • Time constraints.  Need I say more?  This is a huge challenge for families today!
These are very real barriers.  I won't minimize them.  The good news is that every one of these barriers can be overcome.

This video is less than two minutes long, but it is a powerful motivator for making the spiritual training our children a priority.

Discipling our children on a day-to-day basis requires absolute dedication.  This blog is about breaking down some of the barriers to making our homes the place where our children's faith is nurtured.  It's about equipping you, encouraging you, and inspiring you in this great endeavor.  Feel free to comment or send me an email telling me what would be helpful to see on Turning Our Hearts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Small Group Bible Studies

We all have an inner need to connect with other people.  We were created to need fellowship within a faith community.  It's no coincidence that Jesus Christ and the early church focused on small groups.  They can be a very powerful vehicle for transforming lives and forging strong relationships. 

Today I'd like to share some of my favorite resources for Bible study or group discussions.
When They Turn Away: Drawing Your Adult Child Back to Christ

The mission of parenting doesn’t end after your kids become adults. Visionary Family Ministries has been overwhelmed with the number of people we have met around the country who are hurting because their adult children are struggling in their faith…or who have rejected faith all together.  In these four video sessions, Dr. Rob Rienow will encourage you with biblical principles which will inspire you to reconnect with your adult child and give you practical ways to encourage faith in their hearts.

This is available as a 4-part DVD series or in the book When They Turn Away: Drawing Your Adult Child Back to Christ.  Free downloadable participant guides are on the Visionary Family Ministries website and can be printed and given to members of your group.  Want to learn more about this program?  This inspiring video is a must-see!

Visionary Parenting

God has entrusted you with children for a reason! The biblical purpose of parenting is to do all in our power to impress the hearts of our children with a love for God. The souls of our children are our most important Great Commission calling. Visionary Parenting was created to encourage and equip you for this mission.

This is available as an 8-part DVD series or on audio.  The same information is contained in the book Visionary Parenting: Capture a God-Sized Vision for Your Family. This makes it easy to choose the format that best fits your group and budget.  On the Visionary Family Ministries website, you can find descriptions for each of the 8 sessions as well as free downloadable participant guides that can be printed and given to members of your group.  Still not sure if this is the right resource to use for your group?  Listen to the first session free on the website.  Below is a promotional video by Dr. Rob Rienow, the creator of Visionary Parenting.

Revolutionary Parenting

If you're like most parents, you think you're doing an okay job - and you probably believe you're doing better than most. But if your goal is to raise kids with a life-impacting faith, that may not be good enough.

Determined to learn the secrets of those who've raised spiritual champions, world-renowned researcher George Barna conducted a series of surveys and thousands of personal interviews with both young adults and their parents.

In the process, he was able to uncover a number of common denominators to parenting success. Some of his findings will encourage you; others will surprise you. But be forewarned - raising a spiritual champion takes Revolutionary Parenting.

Audio CD, parent workbook, leader guide with DVD, and the book Revolutionary Parenting: Raising Your Kids to Become Spiritual Champions are available from The Barna Group website or Amazon.  Small group packages are also available.  Want to know what makes this book different from other Christian parenting materials?  Check out this interview with George Barna:

Family Time Training

Are you enjoying using Family Time Training with your own family?  Consider sharing this idea with other Christian parents.  They will appreciate learning about it also!  For suggestions about how to present the material, go to Family Time Training's self-led training page.

Photo: Microsoft Images
If you are already part of a cell group, parent group, or small group Bible study, these resources are fantastic material for stimulating thought, discussion, intentionality, and motivation.  If you are not currently part of a small group, consider inviting some friends to discuss some of these materials with you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Family Time Training: An Effective Tool for Passing On the Faith to Your Children

Is it your desire to make your home the place where your child’s faith is planted and blossoms?  Do you want your child to know a living and dynamic God?  How can you make spiritual training the most exciting part of their week?

Through "Family Night" activities (or "Family Time Training"), parents and grandparents utilize the same teaching techniques that Jesus Christ used, creating memorable and engaging spiritual lessons.  This teaching strategy is practical for today's busy families because it requires little or no preparation time.  Though lessons are completed in only 10-20 minutes, the activities provide a springboard for spiritual conversations long after the activity has ended.  This video, by Kurt Bruner of Heritage Builders, explains how Family Night activities work:

A famous Chinese proverb states:  "Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember;  involve me and I'll understand."   These activity-based lessons increase children's understanding of spiritual matters and strengthens their connection to God.  Additionally, we don't just form a theoretical analogy.  The object lessons used are made very concrete because that is the way children learn best.

Family Time Training is an incredibly versatile strategy to use.  You can do this with children from age 2 to age 18.  As a parent, you know your child's character weaknesses and potential stumbling blocks.  Whatever spiritual goals you have for your child-- increase their knowledge of the Bible, develop specific character traits,  gain a better understanding of the plan of salvation, understand the basic gospel message, learn about the attributes of God, etc.--you can probably find a Family Nights activity to address those goals.

Photo: Microsoft Images
The real beauty of Family Nights is that it creates a natural way to incorporate spirituality into everyday discussions.  After you have this fun common experience, it becomes very easy to refer back to it.  By doing so, you will drive home the real life application of the spiritual principle that was taught.  Family Nights are fun for all and make the goal of Deuteronomy 6 attainable for busy families today.

Looking for resources to help you get started?  Family Time Training posts a free activity every month.  Additionally, you can find activity books in their online store.   Heritage Builders also has an excellent series called the Family Nights Tool Chest.  Both organizations have lesson books for families with preschoolers through teens.  Mad About Jesus has some fantastic object lessons for teens, and the lessons can be easily adapted for use in the family setting.

If you live in the Cincinnati area and would like me to do a workshop, sharing this technique with your small group, please email me.

Please share your experiences using this teaching technique.  I would love to hear your stories!