imageThe “subtitle” for this book is:

A beautifully illustrated, simple yet complete guide to help parents teach their children the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

That is some billing to live up to, but I have to tell you, in the end I found this book to be exactly that.  Mr. Leuzarder, driven by the desire to come up with a way for his own daughters to memorize the core truths of the gospel has come up with this resources which should be in the hands of all parents and everyone who works with kids.

The Problem

Before I get into how Mr. Leuzarder solves the problem, it makes sense to define the problem itself.  As parents, or as children’s ministry workers, our chief goal should be to share the truth and power of the gospel with the kids we have influence over.  That said, there is a bit of a dearth [CHECK SPELLING] when it comes to good resources for sharing the gospel with kids.  The result is kids oftentimes get a watered-down, incomplete or inaccurate picture of what the gospel is all about.

Here how Mr. Leuzarder defines the problem in the introduction to the book:

“Many of us are familiar with the term ‘Gospel.’  We have hopefully heard its message in sermons, tracts or on TV.  We understand its great importance because God’s Word tells us that the Gospel ‘is the power if God for the salvation of everyone who believes.’  Understanding this, then, we would all agree that offering this message about the saving work of Jesus Christ to our children, as soon as they able to grasp its meaning, is of utmost importance.

But where do we start?  The Gospel is much more than a few lines out of a tract.  In fact, to properly understand the Gospel we must reasonably understand all that the Bible teaches about the nature and character of God, about man as a created being, his fall into sin and his desperate condition, as well as the work of Jesus Christ to save men from God’s wrath and eternal punishment.  We also need to understand what God expects of His redeemed people and what it means to be an heir to the glories of eternal life.”

The Teaching Process

Now, that is a tall order for any adult to understand all of those concepts.  Thousand-page plus books like Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology have been written to help adults to begin to try to understand all that these concepts entail.  How then can we begin to try to teach these to kids?  I believe it is a three part process (two of which we have some control over):

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imageLast week on this blog, I reviewed Michelle Anthony’s book Big God Story – a book for kids which recounts the basic story of the Bible with a clear focus on how it all relates to Jesus.  Based on that, I was excited to review a book on parenting which, I hoped, would come from the same God-centered perspective.  I wasn’t disappointed.

In the very first chapter of the book, Ms. Anthony explains the basics of spiritual parenting:

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THE BIG GOD STORY by MICHELLE ANTHONY (a Dad in the Middle Review)

imageThe Bible is many things.  It is the true and inerrant Word of God.  It is guidance for our lives.  It is the record of our Lord and Savior.  It is also a story.  It is God’s story of His interaction with mankind.  The Big God Story by Michelle Anthony does a great job of capturing that story in a way which is both biblically accurate and engaging for kids.  From the dawn of creation, the book weaves its way through the fall, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, the wondering in the desert, Joshua, the period of the Judges, Saul, David, Daniel, Esther, the exile, Nehemiah, the period of silence, the nativity, the disciples, the crucifixion, the resurrection and the second coming.  All of that – in only 32 wonderfully illustrated pages.  Never mind the kids, this book serves as a great survey of the entire Bible for people of all ages.

From the very name of the book “Big God Story,” I liked the focus of this book.  It is not a book about a bunch of historical guys who did awesome things, it is a book about how God has worked throughout history to accomplish his plan.  The first words of the book summarize its intent:

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What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry – Redemption by Sam Luce

image image It’s been a while since I did an installment from the book What Matters Now in Children’s Ministry, and this one is long overdue.  In the book Sam Luce chose the Word “Redemption” as What Matters Now.

Sam starts with a great summary of the importance of redemption:

One of the greatest messages we can give to every family we come in contact with is the message of redemption. In kids’ ministry, today, we deal with more broken hearts and broken families than ever before. I believe every family needs to experience the power of redemption.

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image Why did I review this book?

When Larry Shallenberger announced several months ago that he was planning on doing a book blog tour to celebrate the fifth anniversary of his book, I eagerly signed up.  I don’t know Larry personally, but I do follow his comments on Twitter and read his blog, so I kind of feel like I know him even if he doesn’t follow me on Twitter. 🙂  Based on that presumption of relationship, and the generally laid back nature of people in children’s ministry, I will refer to him as Larry throughout this review.

Anyhow, I knew that regardless of what the book was about, Larry’ has a great sense of humor and an easy to read writing style, so I knew reading his book wouldn’t be a complete waste of time.  That said, when I found out the topic of the book was leadership, I got just a little bit leery.  It’s not that I don’t like reading about leadership or being a leader.  I actually do, but the world has plenty of books on leadership, and I have read a bunch of them.  It seems the everybody who has ever been a boss or started a ministry or had people report to them has taken it upon themselves to write a book on leadership.  After a while, they all just seem to say the same thing – do it my way and you’ll be OK, and it ultimately all runs together into a fuzzy blurry haze in my head.  Besides that, I already have a group of people whose writings, podcasts, etc. on topic of leadership I devour.  They include people like Andy Stanley, Jim Wideman, and others who I have grown to trust in this area and have learned a lot from.  With all due respect to Larry, I wasn’t sure what he could offer that hadn’t either already heard or wasn’t getting from some of the other resources I was reviewing.

There’s an old, slightly cliché, saying that “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”  I agree in principal, and Larry’s book turned out to be a prime example of this for me and another reason I try not to let pre-conceived notions totally guide what I choose to read.  Now, I’ve never recommended that someone not read this book, but if it hadn’t been for this blog tour, I’m not sure I ever would have read it either.  Had that happened, I would have missed out.

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CONNECT WITH YOUR KIDS – By Jim Wideman (A Dad in the Middle Review)

image Several months ago, I sat down to read Connect With Your Kids by Jim Wideman.  The book was so practical and engaging that I finished it in one sitting.  Not only that, I wore out a highlighter noting all the quotable passages from the book.  Unfortunately, the format of this review will not allow me to share ALL of those.  Needless to say though, I think this is a book that any parents, and everyone who works with kids, should move to the top of their reading list.

About the Book

The quip on the back of the book describes its purpose quite clearly:

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