Babies, Toddlers, and the Gospel
Remember road maps? You know, those paper maps that you could never quite fold up again unless you were an origami master. Do you remember how difficult it was to use one of those maps to figure out where you were going while you were driving? Road maps were surely the grandparent of distracted driving.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a paper map. Somewhere there are probably phone booths full of them, pagers, and Betamax players. Paper maps simply aren’t needed any longer in the age of the smartphone. Instead, you can plug your destination into a phone App and be guided turn-by-turn to your destination. It’s a wonderful replacement for paper maps, except when the App has a hiccup and doesn’t direct you to turn until the last second (or after you have already passed the street). When you are driving you need the directions ahead of time. That way you can prepare for the turn and make it every time.
That simple illustration is a way to explain the heart of The Gospel Project® for Kids team when it comes to parents and church leaders sharing the gospel with children. We believe that it is essential to pour the Word of God into the ears of children from birth so that when they are ready, it will seep naturally into their minds and hearts.
Don’t worry, we don’t base this approach on a road map, but instead on Deuteronomy 6:4-9. In this classic passage, parents are instructed to keep God’s Word in front of their children at all times – as a way of life. Notice that there is no exception clause. God doesn’t give a starting point. It seems best to understand that He doesn’t give one because His intention is for parents to begin this process at the birth of a child. The image is of a mother rocking her baby to sleep as she recounts God’s faithfulness to His people or of a father telling his toddler that his disobedience is ultimately against God.
Being proactive, not reactive, is the key. We teach and train in advance so that as the child grows and matures, he or she will be able to respond to the gospel when prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so.
It is through this proactive lens that we are developing a brand new component of The Gospel Project® for Kids to be released in Fall 2015: a Babies and Toddlers Leader Guide. We are committed to providing resources for the church to use in support of parents discipling children in the home. Our desire is that the new Babies and Toddlers Leader Guide compliments the existing ministry rhythms of babies and toddlers leaders in churches and provides age-appropriate stories, nuggets, and activities that fit within the greater scope and sequence of The Gospel Project®. Leaders can use the content of the Babies and Toddlers Leader Guide to help them teach the youngest of children about Jesus as they play with them, snuggle together, and even put them to sleep.
So what ideas and suggestions do you have for us as we develop this new component of The Gospel Project® for Kids? We’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.