Conversations with your kids about God and the Bible likely take place in your home on a regular basis. After all, that's the pattern that God established and the one that Northridge Kids tries to reinforce as the best strategy for parents to inspire faith in their children (Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
But, have you ever talked your pre-schooler about the Nephilim in Genesis 6?
Have you ever talked to your third grade daughter about unwed Ruth sneaking into Boaz's room at night in Ruth 3? Don't worry, nothing really sketchy happened. However, it's still pretty confusing, huh?
Did you give your fifth grade son a pop quiz on the Israelite Census in Numbers 1?
Of course you haven't!!
Why not? Is it because these stories don't matter?
These stories do matter. Each one has a specific place in the Bible and role in our life because they are inspired and therefore significant. Read more about our understanding of the Bible HERE.
There could be a number of reasons that you haven't introduced your children to giant/angel/alien controversy of Genesis 6, Ruth sneaking into pronounce her desire for Boaz's hand in marriage or memorizing the number of Israelites per tribe. Whatever your reasons, I bet at the top of your list is the idea that it is either confusing, inappropriate or doesn't seem to impact your child's stage of life.
One pastor says it this way,
Our goal is to maximize the 40 hours a year we have with your child in order to teach them the parts of the Bible that matter most in their current stage of life.
Because at Northridge Kids, we think that if we show how the Bible is relevant to them as kids, it will motivate them to know how the Bible relates to them as adults.
We measure whether or not we are relevant in two ways: age-appropriate stories and real-life application. We'd love to describe what we mean by those phrases.
1. Age-Appropriate Stories
Based on a child's stage of life (phase), they have different needs, physical abilities and mental capabilities. As a result we won't teach preschoolers the same thing, in the same way, we would to a fifth grader.
For our Pre K environments (Ark and Hot Spot) we create a safe and clean environment with consistent leaders, songs, snacks and short teaching time in order to emphasize God as our loving creator. By the time a child outgrows these environments, we want them to be familiar with our three Basic Truths:
God made me
God loves me
Jesus wants to be my friend forever
Each story, craft and activity that a preschooler participates in while in this phase emphasizes one of these three big ideas of the Bible. Our goal is to lay a foundation of trust, so that each child understands that God can be trusted.
In our Elementary environment (HighPoint) our team creates fun and engaging environments, which we leverage to teach Biblical stories to emphasize God's character. We want each story to help kids become more like Him. We also utilize age specific Small Groups which allow leaders to take the Bible stories presented in the Large Group setting, and through targeted activities and discussion, help kids understand and relate the Bible to their own lives. By the time an elementary student moves on to Northridge Youth Ministry, they've learned that:
I can trust God no matter what
I need to make the wise choice
I should treat others the way I want to be treated
During this elementary phase, kids in HighPoint hear one story each week with one bottom line they can remember that gives them a specific application to practice throughout the week. Some of our recent topics (Life Apps) have included: obedience, teamwork, perseverance and faith.
2. Real-Life Application
As an adult who grew up in the church, attended Bible summer camps, Bible college and seminary, I've heard no less than 6500 sermons in my life. That's a lot of information about the Bible!
While I've heard many life-changing sermons (and could tell you about those), it's unfortunate that I don't remember 6400 of those sermons.
It's NOT because they weren't great talks.
I don't remember most of them because these talks, though filled with great information, failed to connect truth with real life. The pastors and teachers I sat under were more concerned with me knowing what the Bible says than they were with me doing what the Bible says. Pastor Larry Osborne says, "Bible knowledge and theology...don't equal pleasing God." Instead he says, "the greatest sign of God's work in our life is...wanting what God wants - then going out and doing it."
Kids at Northridge find out what God wants through the stories of the Bible and they are challenged by leaders and other kids to obey God by putting the Bible into practice in their life. Knowing what God wants them to do and putting it into practice on a consistent basis, that's real-life application.
When kids hear the Bible in a way that makes sense to them and are able to practice it in a way that fits into their life, they will be more likely to not only obey God as a kid, but pursue a life-long faith journey.