My Theology of Children in a Nutshell

Often people want to know a quick answer for why I believe in baptising infants and what my theology of parenting and children’s ministry is.

Here is my short answer I wrote for a friend some years ago:

In terms of biblical theology, the Old Covenant clearly had a discipling model for children – children of believers were born into and included at every level of spiritual activity (not an evangelistic model). If you read the whole New Testament in light of this model, there is no repudiation, only an assumption that it continues which is made explicit at several key points (Acts 2, Eph 6, 1 Cor 7).
This theology was accepted across the board by all Reformation traditions (excluding the Anabaptists who were fairly fringe).  It is only in the rise of Enlightenment individualism and the experientialism of the Great Awakening do you start to see the Baptistic exclusion of children drift into Protestant Evangelical culture – to where it has become the default cultural assumption amongst Western Christians today.

Tips on Family Worship and Bible Reading

Some thoughts I shared with a friend a while ago on reading the Bible with your primary aged kids:

  1. Start with a simpler translation he can use, such as the CEV, but try to get onto the standard NIV-1984 as soon as his reading becomes proficient.
  2. Read half or one chapter a night, and work consecutively through one book of the Bible. Take turns reading and help him learn how to pronounce names and learn any words that are difficult. (if you keep up the daily habit over years he will grow to become an excellent reader)
  3. Start with a gospel, then work through different parts of the New Testament. For a boy the book of Acts is exciting and also Revelation. In time get onto the Old Testament starting with Genesis, Psalms, Proverbs, Exodus. There is no need to read in order of the table of contents – though it helps enormously to know where each book is in the chronology of the Bible (some study bibles will have a chart to show this).
  4. Have a simple discussion about the meaning and questions like: What do we learn about God? What has Jesus done for us? What can we thank and praise him for?
  5. Always finish with a prayer together – take turns. Give him prompts like: “You say a prayer giving thanks to Jesus for dying for our sins”, “You thank God for three good things he has given you today”. Try and let the prayers flow out of something you have discussed from the Bible that night.
  6. It helps to make up a chart where you can tick off books you have finished. This gives a sense of achievement and progress.
  7. Don’t spend too long each day. It is better to do 10 minutes consistently every day than 30 minutes sporadically.

The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? | Wired Business |

A salutary warning to all work-idolatrous fathers from someone who worked closely with Steve Jobs:

“If you’re going to fail at building something,” he says, “fail at building the f***ing iPad. Don’t fail at building children.”

via The Story of Steve Jobs: An Inspiration or a Cautionary Tale? | Wired Business |

How Our Children Come to Faith (Paperback) By (author) Stephen Smallman

This is a helpful little booklet if you want a 5 minute theological introduction to Reformed parenting.

By (author) Stephen Smallman

How Our Children Come to Faith

via How Our Children Come to Faith (Paperback) By (author) Stephen Smallman ISBN 13: 9781596380530 at The Book Depository.

Cahill declines to coach Federer | Tennistalk

Coaching Federer would be the ultimate job for any tennis coach. Yet I think Cahill has made the right decision in rejecting Federer to be with his family.

There are lots of lonely broken men with successful careers out there. Not worth it.

“Roger is a guy who lives in Switzerland and trains in Dubai, and Darren has kind of set up a comfortable life in Vegas. And I think he realised that just being on the road 20-plus weeks would be too tough a go for him with his young family.”

via Cahill declines to coach Federer | Tennistalk.

Equip parents before the youth group | Mission-minded church |

I enjoyed this article and the comments discussion that follows. I’m wrestling hard to build a ministry to equip Christian parenting at Holy Trinity.

Children’s and youth ministry need to be seen as a complement to the family ministry than as a substitute for it.

via Equip parents before the youth group | Mission-minded church |

Craig’s Blog: Bringing your kids to faith

Craig comments on Christian parenting. I disagree with some of the things he says. But I humbly believe Craig is right and Piper is wrong on the following foundational point:

Firstly, I believe a child born to a Christian parent and raised in the church community is a member of the kingdom. This is the reason I really truly do believe in infant baptism. I know some folk (like John Piper) believe your children are born pagans and you have to convert them. I believe they were (effectively) born Christian, and need to be discipled. I think this can make a pretty big difference to how you raise them.

Craig’s Blog: Bringing your kids to faith.

Craig’s view is basically a Reformation view. I will post some more on this topic.

Are Children of Believers Members of the Christian Church?

On holiday we visited two great churches and were deeply encouraged by both.

But they had very different views concerning children of believers.

One church counted children of believers as being Christians themselves. They were part of the whole service and very little was changed for them, except for a kids talk. There was no Sunday school within the service (though there was one beforehand – it wasn’t obvious to us from the church sign whether we could just rock up).

The other church had a separate building and events for the kids – we parted ways even before any services started. From what we saw, the kids-side was essentially an evangelistic meeting with an invitation to “put your hand up if you want to make a decision” prayer at the end. In fact the adult end was a version of this as well.

Theologically I think the first church had the theology right. There is a continuation between the old and new covenant in terms of inclusion of children of believers in salvation. Children of believers are rightly addressed and treated as saints throughout New Testament letters.

But it kind of felt like neither church had the practice right. The second church was much more tailored at the kids level – there was lots of energy and creativity well used. But my kids didn’t need evangelising – they needed to worship/praise God, be taught his Word and get fellowship with other Christians. On the other hand we could have been a pagan family visiting and the second church would have been on the money.

5th October Prayer and Protest Rally, Parliament House, Melbourne

The whole family and a bunch of people from church went to the prayer and protest rally for the murderous proposed abortion bill. I reckon about 4000+ people there. There were more than you can see just on these photos, but it was quite big.

There were lots of kids and babies and prams. Josiah and Jemima were asking lots of questions. We tried to be as clear as we could – we were there to protest the government allowing and encouraging thousands of babies to be killed in their mother’s tummies. .

More photos on my flickr page.

Mem Fox blasts full time child care for babies | Herald Sun

It is heartbreaking.

“I don’t know why some people have children at all if they know that they can take only a few weeks off work.

“I know you want a child, and you have every right to want a child, but does the child want you if you are going to put it in child care at six weeks? I don’t think the child wants you, to tell the honest truth.

“I was talking to someone in child care in Queensland this year. She said that we’re going to look back on this time from the late ’90s onwards and wonder how we have allowed that child abuse to happen. It’s awful for the mothers as well. It’s completely heartbreaking.

Mem Fox blasts full time child care for babies | Herald Sun

Kids and Email

Josiah asked me today for his own gmail account. I told him not for a few years yet.

He has been watching me process my email. He has a fair idea of how to use it. And he will have an understanding of “inbox zero” from day one. I’m a bit scared to have another person in the house with an email addiction.

So I’m really not sure, what do people think, when is the right time for kids to get an email account?

The conversation ended like this:
Dad: “Why would you want an email account anyway, who are you going to email?”

Josiah: “My friends overseas” [occasionally Josiah writes a message to missionaries or other friends kids overseas]

Dad: “Why don’t you just write them in openoffice and then Mum or myself will email them?”

Josiah: “I have done that already”

So I look in Josiah’s folder in our home computer, lo and behold, he has already created a folder called “GMail” and drafted one email already!

A Horse and His Boy

Just finished reading Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe with the kids and began book 3 of Narnia last evening.

Every time I read book 2 I see beautiful new images of the gospel.

Why does book 2 have such rich Christian imagery and book 3 seem to be so sparse in the imagery? Am I just not seeing it?

Did Lewis plan the whole 7 books or was he making it up as he went along?

Filing Cabinet Productivity: Straight down the line

For some people they know stuff like this, but I’m a truck drivers son! I have to learn this from scratch.

This was a revelation to me: Straight-line filing. Implemented it this week. My files look much nicer on the eye and are more usable:

Keep it straight, keep it organized. A good example of the Straight-Line concept can be seen in the way that names are organized in the phone book. Finding a name is easy because they arranged in columns so your eyes scan them in a straight line. If you had to look back and forth, finding the name would be more difficult and time consuming.

File Management Makeover

Dexion Osborne Park recommends that you use folders with all of the tabs in the same position on the folder. This allows subject titles to line up in a straight line in the drawer or on the shelf. Since the eye sees in straight lines, the most efficient way to organise folders is to use the “straight line” filing method.

Office Ideals

Straight-line filing, with the tabs one behind the other, is not only easier on the eye but simpler to maintain than alternating tab positions.

Steps to Conquer Your Fear of Filing

Setting up files? Consider straight-line filing (all file labels in the same tab position) rather than staggered files (labels left, center, right). Your filing system won’t be disrupted by adding a new file, saving you lots of needless effort in re-arranging files. And it’s easier on your eyes – looking in a straight line is easier than looking back and forth. When I first read this suggestion from Julie Morgenstern, I implemented it on my own files – what a difference! Smead has some nice illustrations of straight-line filing; you don’t need to use their products or use color-coding (as they suggest) to use straight-line filing.

Organizing Tips – Jeri Dansky

Organize Your Work Day… in No Time – Google Book Search

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone | The New York Sun

Ask my wife, I told her this idea about 12 months ago. She didn’t like it, at all.

Anyway, for weeks my boy had been begging for me to please leave him somewhere, anywhere, and let him try to figure out how to get home on his own. So on that sunny Sunday I gave him a subway map, a MetroCard, a $20 bill, and several quarters, just in case he had to make a call.

Why I Let My 9-Year-Old Ride the Subway Alone | The New York Sun

Don’t force kids to grow up early – Opinion –

My observation of parents who have taken the “harm minimisation” strategy, exchanging setting moral boundaries for participating with their kids in “what everyone else is doing”, simply end up in scenarios an order of magnitude worse than if they were doing their job of “pushing back” their kids…

At the same time, many parents have absolved themselves of their responsibilities. It has always been the case that children try to push against the boundaries set by adults to see how far they can go. But what happens if no one pushes back? Rather than laying down the law, parents are increasingly becoming co-conspirators with their children in breaking them.

Don’t force kids to grow up early – Opinion –