Share our most recent updates with your church, small group, Sunday school class, or youth group! Just click here.
I was thrilled with both the turn out, which included a number of return guests, and the participation in New Morning Church’s first “5th Sunday Prayer and Communion Service”! For those that couldn’t make it, or who simply want to “continue in prayer” (Colossians 4:2) this week, here are the prompts used during the service with the corresponding verses that were read:
- Pray that the Holy Spirit would convict the hearts of your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers of their need for Jesus (cf. John 16:8).
- Pray that the collective Church in Provo will be faithful to present the Gospel, clearly, creatively, and compassionately (cf. Mark 9:38-40).
- Pray that New Morning, the other local churches in our area, and you will become burdened about the lost in our community (cf. Romans 9:1-5).
- Pray that you will be the one God sends and uses in reaching the lost with the Gospel (cf. Matthew 28:18-20).
Join us for out next “5th Sunday Prayer and Communion Service” on Sunday, June 29, 2014!
After my review of New Tribes Mission’s Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ, I was asked to do the same for their Christian Education Edition for fifth and sixth graders. Shortly thereafter I received part one of the Teacher’s Guide, Student Guide, and Home School Adaptation in the mail. This first part covers Creation to the Ten Commandments and is to be taught over eighty-eight days. (Part two covers the Tabernacle through the ascension of Jesus and is also meant to be taught over eighty-eight days.) I’m impressed with this material and would recommend it not only to Christian andhomeschool teachers but also, with some adaption, to youth ministers and Sunday school teachers. Here’s why.
First, this curriculum does not water down the Bible. And I didn’t expect it to seeing that it is based tightly on the adult version. In Lesson 1, Day 1 the Bible is held up as the perfect, complete message of God for mankind. There isn’t a Bible for children and another for adults; the truths I preach and teach on Sunday morning are the same ones presented here for fifth and sixth graders. As such, this material exposes them to doctrines like the eternality of God and the Trinity, complex ideas that would be easy to shy away from in a setting of only adults. In reading through each lesson, I was reminded of Mark 10 where Jesus says, “Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein” (v. 15). Children are more apt to trust God, rather than filtering His Word through their own ideas and experiences the way adults tend to. There’s no reason why they should not engage the Bible at a deep, meaningful level—I appreciate the author’s providing that opportunity.
Second, this curriculum is designed to be both interactive and engaging in and out of the classroom. As the teacher works through each lesson, he or she will spend time reviewing what has already been covered and will ask questions and lead new discussions based on verses the students have read out loud. In addition, the Teacher’s Guide includes suggestions for in-class demonstrations and out-of-class field trips, which I’m considering using as I teach adults. Each week the students themselves will be working through their Student Guide (mostly fill in the blank), memorizing Bible verses and vocabulary words, completing homework assignments, writing journal entries, and learning songs. In that this is a school curriculum, all of this is building toward a test given at the end of each lesson (e.g. Lesson 1 “In the Beginning” is covered in fourteen days with the test given on the fifteenth.) Those tests are included in Teacher’s Guide.
Third, this curriculum allows students to draw conclusions based on the Bible. This is paramount. As verses are read, students are asked to interact with them, talking about what they mean and what they teach us about God. All conversation, and subsequent application, is then based on the biblical text. For example, as students study Creation they learn that God is omnipresent and omniscient. Over the course of each day, they are making applications from this truth—namely that nothing is kept secret from God. So now the student has come to a powerful conclusion with significant personal application based not on what Mr. X or Mrs. Y has said, but what the Bible teaches.
For all its merits, there are a couple of weak points. For example, on page d of the Teacher’s Guide you’re directed to some supplemental material on page 191. However, it’s not on page 191 but a couple pages over on 193. Also, though the vocabulary words are a part of each day’s discussion, it’s not until page 17 (Day 9) of the Teacher’s Guide that it is explicitly explained that the teacher should instruct students to write down the definitions of those words. Does it seem like I’m being nitpicky? I am, and the reason is I can’t find any major weaknesses with New Tribes Mission’s materials. In fact, in showing this particular curriculum to some friends, the only consistent negative comment was that the camel on the cover looks creepy. Granted. But if that’s your only reason for not wanting to use Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ (Christian Education Edition) you’re robbing you and others of valuable Bible teaching.
Have you used materials produced by New Tribes Mission? What has been your experience?
A recap of my message “Stewardship and Its Alternatives” (from the series “Stewarding Life”) in 140 characters or less.
- Like an airplane coming in for a landing, success in life is determined by your approach. #NewMorningProvo
- If you are living life for anything less than for what it was designed (cf. Revelation 4:11), you are squandering it. #NewMorningProvo
- Come to grips with the fact there is always going to be more to do and then take a break (cf. Mark 6:30-32). #NewMorningProvo
- What impact will the choices you’re making today have on eternity? #NewMorningProvo
- To squander life is tragic and to spend it is unwise. To steward life, however, is to live with purpose and meaning. #NewMorningProvo
Be sure to follow @NewMorningFWBC on Twitter!
“And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel” (Mark 5:18-20).
As one who grew up in church and has been in ministry for much of my adult life, I’ve had the good fortune to see many people come to new life through faith in Christ. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some of these same new believers languish and ultimately give up on their church family and their faith. Sadly, we gave a good number of them ample reason to do so.
One of my great frustrations with “seasoned” believers is the attitude that many (but certainly not all) take with new believers. Let’s just be honest—even the most mature believer struggles with sin. The nature of the old man is still there, so why would it be any different for a person who just left a life of sin and made a fresh commitment of their life to Christ. Yet time and time again I have seen unreal expectations placed on new believers that have saddled them with an unmanageable burden leading the new convert to believe that they simply can’t cut it as a follower of Jesus.
Not only is this unfair to the new believer, but I believe we may be missing out on another significant opportunity. Studies repeatedly tell us that a great many Christians came to faith because a family member, associate, or friend influenced them. The gospel is an unstoppable force, but we sometimes try to stop it with our methodology. I’ve seen too many examples of a person coming to faith in Christ and their new church family immediately attempting to extract them from their circle of influence. We want them to come to our meetings and come into our circles. We want them to leave the relationships of the past and embrace new, more beneficial relationships. I know that we mean well, but in our zeal I think we sometimes place insurmountable barriers between the new convert and their unsaved circle of influence. Their friends and family can’t jump those hurdles. The new believer is looked down on and gets pressure from his or her old circle. He or she may begin to distrust the new circle. Walls go up and an opportunity is lost.
God has wired us to be relational creatures. Each person lives in a pocket of people that are relationally connected to one another, and to other people. The ancient Greek word for this is Oikos. An Oikos is a circle of influence composed of family, neighbors, co-workers, and friends. God’s natural method for sharing the supernatural message of Christ is the Oikos—life-to-life, person-to-person. Every person who comes to faith in Christ represents 25, 30, 50, or even 100 or more people in their circle of influence who need Jesus. If they see transformation in the life of the new believer, there’s a good chance they will desire that transformation as well. God has built bridges for the gospel and we try to bomb them when we expect new believers to immediately cut ties with not yet believing friends who may potentially drag them away from life in Christ. Instead, let’s give God a chance to work through his Holy Spirit in the life of the new believer and use the relational opportunity he’s provided to possibly see a whole group of people come to new life in Christ. Don’t bomb the bridges. (For further study on the subject, see John 1:40-45; 4:53; Luke 19:9; and Acts 10.)
Scott Warren is the founding pastor of CrossPoint Church in Salt Lake City, Utah. He and his wife, Staci, have been in ministry in Utah for almost 10 years. Their vision is to see CrossPoint become a strong, healthy church that will launch other Gospel-centered churches and make a lasting difference in the culture of Utah.