Children Desiring God – A Summary of the 2009 National Conference

It seems like everybody and their brother was at the Orange Conference this week, and I have enjoyed reading the tweets, blogs and more from people there this week.  It turns out their is another Children’s Ministry conference going on this week.  Children Desiring God 2009 National Conference: Oh Glorious God is also going on this weekend.  Jared Kennedy over at is doing a great job blogging the various sessions.  Some of the speakers include John Piper, Paul David Tripp, Bruce Ware and David Michael.  I’m not all that familiar with Mr. Michael, but I have read the other three, and given what i have read, I imagine this must be a great event.  Since this conference seems to be getting less attention in the blogosphere, I thought I would provide a summary of some of the key points from Mr. Kennedy’s blog posts as well as John Piper’s. My point here is just to provide some interesting insights from what has been written thus far about the conference.  Here’s what has been going on in a bullet point format.

UPDATE (05/20/09): Children Desiring God has now posted the audio from plenary speakers at that event on their website here. You can listen to or download the following sessions:

These are definately worth listening to!  The Children Desiring God website currently says that the audio from the break out sessions will be posted soon.  Once those are available, I will let you know.

Points Made by David Michael (apparently along with his wife Sally)

  • Most churches provide some sort of activity based program for kids without much planning in the way of philosophy or theology.
  • What is needed is a “cradle to graduation” philosophy for passing along doctrine and knowledge to kids.
  • Psalm 78:1-11 provides guidance
    • Psalmist was entrusted with a vision
    • There is a calling on our lives to pass along that vision
    • That vision is a vision of God in his glory
      • A vision of the works and word of God
      • We must not teach about God with a self-centered emphasis
      • We must not use Bible stories just to teach moral lessons
  • We must not just transfer knowledge to kids, we must transfer passion for God
    • This involves passionately redeeming every moment with kids
  • We must have courage to raise kids in a God defying culture
    • If we only provide fun at church, someone else will figure out how to provide more fun
  • How do you raise a generation saturated in the Bible?
    • Use the Bible in bible teaching
      • Have kids to bring their Bibles to church
      • Encourage kids to memorize scripture
      • Teach kids to respect the Bible
      • Use the Bible while you are teaching (even with preschoolers)
    • Teach the whole counsel of God
      • Children need exposure to a wide variety of Bible stories
      • Children need to know all aspects of God so they can worship all of them
      • Children need theological understanding
    • Give a chronological Bible foundation
    • Teach true doctrine
    • Inspire Children to memorize the Bible
    • Use the Word in everyday life
    • Three common objections (and responses)
      • Children can’t sit through a 30 minute Bible lesson (kids will rise to the level of expectation)
      • Many Bible truths are too difficult for kids (it is our job to explain difficult concepts in age appropriate ways)
      • Sunday school should be fun / Children learn by doing (Children must be active listeners.  Never assume the Bible is boring!)
  • Reaching a child’s heart through instruction in God’s Word
    • Five Levels of Learning
      • Rote (ability to repeat)
      • Recognition
      • Restatement
      • Relation
      • Realization / Response
    • Parent’s in best position to each day-to-day the knowledge of God’s Word
    • Must teach in such a way that kids understand the proper response

Thoughts from John Piper on The God Centeredness of God

  • Concerns when teaching kids
    • Indoctrination
      • Put thoughts in kids’ head without reason for believing them
      • While we put truth in kids’ heads, we must also give them a process for testing it
    • Contextualization
      • If we only use words they know, they don’t learn anything new
      • Children need new categories of thought in order to learn
      • Kids don’t have preconceived notions and categories like adults (we get a clean slate to build on)
  • Test of God-Centeredness
    • What is the chief end of God?
    • Who is the most God-centered person in the universe?
    • Who is uppermost in God’s affections?
    • Is God an idolater?
    • What is God’s chief jealousy? To be known admired, trusted, obeyed.
    • Do you feel most loved by God when he makes much of you, or when he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever?
  • Must surpass self-esteem
  • God’s God-Centeredness
    • We make much of God because he is God not because he makes much of us
    • Scripture showing God’s God-Centeredness
      • Ephesians 1:5-6
      • Psalm 19:1
      • Jeremiah 13:1
      • Psalm 106:7
      • Ezekiel 20:14
      • 1 Samuel 12:22
      • Ezekiel 36:22
      • Romans 15:8-9
      • John 12:27-28
      • 2 Corinthians 5:15
      • Philippians 2:9-11
      • Isaiah 43:25
      • 1 Peter 4:11
      • Acts 12:23
      • 2 Thessalonians 1:9-10
      • Habakkuk 2:14
      • Revelation 21:23
  • Getting a new category
    • “God is the one being in the universe for whom the highest virtue is self-exaltation. We cannot copy him in this. We should not think: ‘God exalts self in order to be loving, therefore I must exalt self in order to be loving.’ Rather, we should think: ‘God exalts God in order to be loving, therefore I must exalt God in order to be loving.'”

Thoughts from Bruce Ware on Biblical Foundations for the Centrality of God

  • One the clearest themes in scripture is that there is one and only one God
    • Exodus 8:10
    • Exodus 15:11
    • Deuteronomy 4:35
    • Deuteronomy 4:39
    • 2 Samuel 7:22
    • Psalm 86:8-10
    • Jeremiah 10:6-7
    • Isaiah 40:18
    • Isaiah 40:25
    • Isaiah 43:10-11
    • Isaiah 44:6-8
    • Isaiah 45:5-7
    • Isaiah 45:18-19
    • Isaiah 45:21-22
    • Isaiah 46:5
    • Isaiah 46:9-10
  • Three themes from Isaiah 40-46
    • God as creator (Isaiah40:18-26)
      • If we understand this, it gives us humility and dependence on God
      • This is how we fight pride
      • There is nothing we can claim as our own
    • God as redeemer (Isaiah43:1-13)
      • This gives us trust and confidence in God
    • God as sovereign ruler over good and evil (Isaiah 44:24-45:7)
      • Should cause us to respond to God with hope and strength
      • Allows us to be hopeful and strong in the midst of suffering

Ideas for Teaching Toddlers God’s Word (from a handout)

  • Keep the Bible open on your lap during story time.
  • Short sentences and few words
  • Be animated in facial expression and tone of voice
  • Incorporate movement into stories and singing
  • Create routines by using songs, finger puppets, etc.
  • Repetition to cement biblical concepts in their minds and hearts
  • Short and sweet.

Tedd Tripp – 5 Truths About Every Child

  • They were created by God to receive revelation.  They weren’t meant to figure out their own lives.
  • They are interpreters by nature.
  • They are worshipers.
  • They are hard wired to seek glory.
  • They are self-focused and self-obsessed
  • I like this quote so much from Abraham Piper’s post, that I won’t bother to try to summarize it.
    • “Because these 5 things are true of all of us, as God is writing the story of our lives, we’re always inclined to try and take the pen from him so we can write it ourselves.”
  • Ministry to children means helping them to turn away from their urge to write their own story and accept that God writes it.

David Michael: How Not To Lose Heart in Ministry

  • What does it mean to lose heart?
    • To lose courage or the will to go on
  • How do we keep from being among those who give up?
    • Fixing our eyes on god-centered realities
    • Be slow to interpret present difficulties as an indication that you should give up

David Michael: Mobilizing Men for Ministry

  • Why mobilize men?
    • Men need to obey the Word of God as much as women do
    • Our children need the benefit of seeing biblical masculinity up close
    • Kids need to understand that Christian affection is for both men and women
    • Men are called to be spiritual leaders in the home and church
  • Why are men reluctant?
    • Stereotypes
    • Lack of confidence
    • Dominant female presence in the leadership of the ministry
    • Time
    • Trust
    • Low status
  • How do we mobilize men?
    • Pray
    • Call men to pursue a great challenge
    • Call men to pursue a great cause
    • Impress on men their unique qualifications
    • Invite them
    • Invest in male leadership
    • Feed them

Timothy Paul Jones: Equipping Families to do Discipleship

  • The call of scripture
    • God has called parents to serve as primary disciple makers of their children.
    • The church is responsible to look after “spiritual orphans” while passionately seeking to disciple their parents.
    • Where God’s kingdom is present, generations are drawn together, not driven apart.
    • What you do for God beyond your home will typically never be greater than what you practice with God within your home
  • The present predicament
    • Parents, and especially fathers have become disengaged from the practice fo actively discipling children. 85% of parents recognize they bear primary responsibility, but most think all they need to do is take their children to church.
    • Most churches have not consistently expected or prepared their parents to disciple their children.
    • In God’s creation order, the basic context for human development is the family and the basic distinction between human beings is male and female.  In contemporary culture, the primary context for development has become age-clustered groups.
    • We don’t know how to be with our families.
  • What do families need to do?
    • Be together
    • Serve and play together
    • Learn together
  • What do churches need to do?
    • BE – It must be at the core of the church
    • ACKNOWLEDGE – Work it into the church’s proclamation and new member training
    • SYNCHRONIZE – resource, train and involve parents
    • EQUIP – parents to disciple their children

Kempton Turner – 5 Foundations of a Truth Drenched Youth Ministruy

  • Be a truth-drenched example. (1 Timothy 4:16)
  • Have a truth-drenched marriage and family life (1 Timothy 3:4-5)
  • Cultivate a truth-drenched staff (Acts 13:2-3)
  • Preach and teach truth-drenched messages and lessons. (Hebrews 13:7)
  • Develop and implement a truth-drenched vision and philosophy of youth ministry. (Proverbs 29:18)

Blogs from

Blogs from Desiring God


  1. Rachel Menke |

    FYI – As a staff member of Children Desiring God I can tell you that in two weeks or so (Lord Willing) all audio of the 2009 Children Desiring God Conference as well as PDFs of the handouts from the seminars will be available at

    • Wayne Stocks |


      Thanks for the update. I can’t wait to listen to the audio after working my way through all the blog posts. Will the audio just be available online or podcast as well? Just curious! I will make sure to post a link to the audio and handouts for everyone to enjoy. I wish I could have been there!

  2. Wayne,
    Great summary. I was going to compile the same stuff, but you’ve saved me the work. I’ll definitely link you on this one!

  3. Great summary. I didn’t get it all up as fast as you. I’ll tell you, the pre-conference was worth the price of the whole thing. David and Sally just pull you straight into the world of CDG/Bethlehem Baptist children’s training. Really great conference! God willing, we’ll be back with a bigger group in two years.