Catechism For Toddlers

For parents with toddler age children, here is a catechism set to help your children grow in their understanding and love for the Trinity, God's creation, other people and the Bible. 

Questions about God
1. Who is God? The Lord our God
2. What else is God? Nothing
3. How many persons is God? Three:
4. Who are they? Father, Son and Spirit
5. What is God like? Holy, loving, just and good
6. What is God? Creator

Questions about God’s creation
7. What did God make? Everyone and everything
8. Who made you? God made me
9. How did God make the world? By speaking words.
10. Why did God make the world? For his glory.
11. What did God say after making everything? Very good
12. What was God’s favorite creation? People

Questions about the Bible:
13. What is the Bible? The Word of God
14. What is the Bible like? True, beautiful and good
15. What do we do with the Bible? Read it and believe it

Questions about humanity
16. Who were the first people God made? Adam and Eve
17. Why did God make people? His glory and our joy
18. Who were the first people? Adam and Eve
19. What did God use make them? From the dust
20. How did God make them? Happy and holy

Questions about Jesus Christ
21. Who is Jesus Christ? Lord and Savior
22. Is Jesus God or a man? Both! God and man
23. Did Jesus sin? Never, not once
24. What is Jesus like? Holy, loving, just and good
25. Why did Jesus die? To save mankind
26. What did Jesus do for you? Died for my sins
27. How many sins did Jesus die for? All of them
28. Is Jesus still dead? No! He is alive!
29. Where is Jesus now? In Heaven, ruling the earth!
30. Is Jesus coming back to earth? Yes! Yes! Yes!

Questions about the Holy Spirit 
31. Who is the Holy Spirit? Our Comforter and Helper
32. Is the Holy Spirit God? Yes, equal to Father and Son
33. What does the Holy Spirit do? Keeps, convicts and guides us
34. How long will the Spirit keep, convict and guide us? Forever!

22 Practical Ways to Help Infants and Toddlers Profit From Corporate Worship

One of the great neglects currently and for the past few decades in the Evangelical tradition has been how we think about and minister to children and teenagers. Because Evangelicals believe in the necessity of regeneration for one’s salvation and thus for full membership in the local church, many current Baptist’s and Evangelicals will take a view of the children of believer’s that, although consistent, is nonetheless unhelpful and unhealthy. Reserving baptism and the Lord’s Supper only for those who come forward in profession of faith does not nor should it cause Evangelicals to put discipleship and formation of children into an either/or category of either too young for evangelism and formation or candidates for evangelism.

This attitude is unfortunate and goes against the long history of Evangelicals to raise children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. It should only propel us to see the place of the children of believer’s in an even higher regard and cause local churches to take ministry to them very seriously. How we consider our children leads to how we minister to them, therefore we should consider our children blessed members of the church community, who have been given the privilege of God to come under the shadow and care of God’s covenant and covenant people that they may hear the gospel from their parents and from the church each week as they gradually come to understand the gospel of Christ. This by no means replaces the work of the Holy Spirit to convert and regenerate, but is a tool by which the Spirit does His work. Neither does this mean children are counted as full members of the church. The children of believers are in the unique position of being under the watch care of their parents and the church. There are great privileges and high expectations given to them from God and His church, so we must be pressed to take their need for nurture and admonition very seriously and with great hope in our God. 

In order for Christian families to progress in training and teaching their children to love and worship God, we need to ask ourselves an important question: What is the purpose of your children being in the worship services? The answer is rather simple: the same purpose for you. All who come into the corporate worship of God are there to worship God and receive his grace, from the youngest to the oldest. All of us are broken people in need of healing, change and formation, which is one of the benefits and gifts of corporate worship. Here, God meets with his people to bring grace, healing, change and formation and children aren’t excluded from receiving these from God in corporate worship. It is to our benefit to believe that our children can actually receive and profit from corporate worship beyond learning to be still and quiet. On a personal level, this is what motivated my family to begin including our children in worship and what sustains us on the hard days. As a pastor and parent, I must remember this and keep it before myself and our congregation. Like all things, if we forget the most important truths, we often become despondent and irritable if our only goal is for our children to be still and quiet. If the only goal I have for my child while they are in public is stillness and quiet, then I am likely training my children in obedience and respect out of a desire to not to embarrass myself by them disturbing others. However, if my desires are for my children to receive from the Spirit and be formed by God Word in worship, then it would follow that I will have the same desire for others and thus work hard to keep my children from being a distraction to others. In other words, if I desire for my children to worship God, then I should want the same for all those gathered for worship.

Our hearts need to be prepared to meet with God and reflect upon the gift of God’s grace to us within our corporate worship. Keep this near your heart and ask for God’s grace to be given to your children when you enter into worship, no matter their age or yours. I pray that as you train your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, they will grow up believing the gospel of Christ and will love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.

One last thing: I want to acknowledge and give clarity that I am by no means condemning those churches and families that make use of a nursery for younger children. Convictions among God’s people differ on this particular issue and even differ within those that have the same convictions about the practicalities. Whatever your church and family situation or belief, I hope this will be helpful for those whose younger children participate in the worship service.

Here is a list of 22 ways you can help encourage your toddler age children to participate in and receive more from corporate worship.

  1. Encourage your kids to squeeze hand or something similar when the name of God, Christ or the Holy Spirit is mentioned.
  2.  If you know the sermon text before, encourage them to listen for certain things and to then squeeze your hand or something similar when they hear that mentioned. 
  3. Draw a picture of what is being talked about
  4. Encourage them to say a short prayer when there is a time of silence.
  5. If possible or profitable, encourage them to hold a bulletin during readings and singing.
  6. Be near them when there are corporate readings so they can hear you read.
  7. Have them say “AMEN” after each prayer and Scripture reading.
  8. Let them hold a Bible for Scripture readings to know that the Word of God is being read.
  9. Whisper to them that you are transitioning to a different part of the service. 
  10. Encourage them to raise their hands during the doxology.
  11. Encourage them to hold their hands open during the benediction.
  12. In a time of corporate prayer, where appropriate, tell them to say the name of a family member, church member, or friend as a prayer.
  13. Let them put the tithe check in the offering plate.
  14. Give them some change to put in each week during the offering.
  15. Only let them bring 1, no more than 2 items to church. More items allows for more distractions.
  16. Limit snacks and drinks during corporate worship
  17. Make bathroom visits before the service
  18. Sit closer to the front. Sitting further back can cause distractions to the children
  19. Limit Saturday activities and go to bed early to be rested for worship
  20. Remind the kids on Saturday night and Sunday morning they will be worshipping.
  21. Pray for the worship service every Saturday night or Sunday morning
  22. Read a Psalm about worship Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Liturgy For Little Ones: Building Habits of Family Devotions

Liturgy for Little Ones: Building Habits of Family Devotions.

There is a growing desire in many Christian families for family devotions, but when it comes time to actually having a devotion, we often end up doing nothing or not knowing what to do. This leads to our growing desire turning into regret and guilt and ends up with a lack of devotional time. What I hope to do here is help parents of little children grow in the grace of family devotions and move past regret to enjoyment in their family life. 

BEGINNING THOUGHTS
First thing first, what do we mean by the word liturgy? A liturgy is the pattern by which we organize a worship service. Every tradition and every church follows a liturgy, from very detailed to the very loose, but all have a liturgy. For the purposes of this writing, we are using the word liturgy to help those who need to develop patterns of reading, prayer and singing into their family life.

 I know that most parents have schedules they have to keep all day and often feel the last thing they want to do when they come home is have something else on the schedule, particularly something they may not feel they are equipped to do. Remember that you have been given the responsibility to raise your children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. God has chosen you to be these children's parents and as a servant of the Lord Most High, therefore we must fulfill our callings.

Secondly, remember that you aren’t planning a corporate worship service for your family, which means you don’t have to be a trained, ordained pastor. The goal in a family worship time is to fill your family with good things that keep the unity of the Spirit for the Christian family and build into family life an understood recognition that Jesus Christ is our Lord. This building in occurs in all forms, but the sit down time together can become part of the glue that keeps the unity of your family. As well, don’t feel obligated to complete each part of this family liturgy at every setting. The goal is to see how our Sunday liturgies can build routines into our family life, so they may occur in different ways, times, and places. To the fathers and mothers, as you begin thinking through these things, receive the grace of Jesus Christ to build your family upon the Rock, which is Christ. Here are the elements of a liturgy for families with young children.

READING WITH LITTLE ONES
John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word and the Word is Jesus Christ. He is the eternal Word of God. This title is important for us our discussion of family worship because we must remember what is the primary way in which God communicates with us: The written word. While other means of communication such as film and audio are gifts of God to be used and enjoyed, God communicates to us most clearly in the written word. He has made the written word an integral part of his creation, which makes the importance of reading in Christian family life natural and to be received with joy. Make reading a part of your family life and read from these types of sources.

The Bible
Reading and teaching younger children about the stories of the Scriptures will take up a large portion of your family reading time, but there needs to be consistent time in your home for your children to see their parents open up the Bible and read it to them. The other stories we read will change and go in and out, but it is important to keep Bible reading active in your home. Don’t fret over time and entertainment level when reading the Bible to younger children. Remember that you aren’t leading the gather congregation in corporate worship, you are spending time with your family. Here are a few ideas to consider


Take a selection of Scripture and read that to the children.
Rotate between books and stories of the Bible.
Read beyond the type of Scripture that you are acquainted with or most comfortable reading.
Read based on the church calendar
Throw away your calendar of reading and start the next day where you left off. 
Read for just a few minutes

Catechism
As your children reach the age where they can speak in short sentences, try reading catechism questions. Catechism is an old form of teaching that is built on question and answers to help children remember biblical teachings. These have proven very helpful for centuries so I encourage you to use them in your family. A word of caution of catechisms: they open a lot of doors  for parental frustration. Some children take to them quicker than others and some children are too young for the language of older catechisms. Look for some smaller catechisms for young children to be written soon. For now here are some suggestions.


Ask easy questions that have three to five words.
Catechize in the memory of short selections of Bible verses.
Read them yourself to become familiar with them.
Utilize the church calendar for types of questions

Bible story books
Because children love stories, Bible story books are wonderful gifts for children. The Bible is filled with narrative and history that is fascinating and enjoyable for children and adults. I highly encourage the use of these for children that haven’t begun school. You will be delighted at how well they will remember the stories and which stories they enjoy the most. Also, be prepared for how much more you will love the stories from God’s Word. If you find yourself understanding a story better from a children’s story book Bible, then chances are you have a good story book Bible. If you aren’t sure where to start, feel free to ask me, my wife, parents with older children for some ideas. Also ask other children which story book Bibles they enjoy the most. Remember these things too:


Use story book Bibles that are honest about God’s character
Use story book Bibles that show humanity’s sin and our being made in God’s image.
Use story book Bibles that either tell the gospel in the story or are building up to the coming of Christ.
Use story book Bibles with good artwork.
Use story book Bibles that have appropriate lengths.

Christian stories
We are part of the greatest heritage humanity has ever known: The people of God. It is important to read to your children about the people of the Bible and those beyond. There are many good biographies of people from church history for children that you can obtain at a low cost. This will also be a great help to parents in learning more about our people and heritage. Here are some other ideas.


Read to them about the first century church.
Read about the later years of church history.
Read about those of our tradition near and far.
Read about ordinary saints and those from countries far off.
Read stories about the people of God currently in other places.
Read stories of men and women from church history.

Other stories
There is a bounty of great literature in Western history and there are some fantastic new books being written for children today. Don’t forsake reading these to your kids. Let them learn about life and godly living from stories. Let them learn to read a story to ask themselves who they are in the stories. The world is often better understood in stories so read stories to your children.

While we may have a bounty of great fiction, we also currently have a bounty of stories with an ethical message, both good and bad. While stories that teach godly principles are valuable, it isn't wise to make this most of the reading our children get. Let them learn courage from a prince rescuing a princess, heroes and villains. These have more Christian truths and character in them than many want to believe. Some other points of advice.


Read funny stories
Slowly work towards stories that need to be read over a few nights.
Only give them books that you want them to read. This will make their selections much easier for you.
Feel free to remove a book from your collection that you don't approve after reading.

SINGNG WITH LITTLE ONES
Too often singing is placed on the back burner of family devotion times, but it needs to remain a key part of your family. Many today avoid singing due to no musical background or abilities to play music. Others feel awkward sitting in a group of five, singing a song together. While the parents may feel awkward about the singing, the children often don't. Remember again this doesn’t have to be at every setting, every time. If you have kids that love to sing, it will become more common in your home. Often the amount of singing follows from personal desires of the family and the ability or the ability of someone in the family to play an instrument. If you can’t play an instrument and your children seem to have an interest in music or singing then encourage them to play. Eventually they will be able to lead the family musically. No matter though, there should be some consistent times of singing in your family. Advice:


Sing songs from corporate worship
If possible, listen to songs from worship services in the car.
Sing songs besides worship type songs to encourage good music where its found.
Sing fun songs that they can laugh and play while singing.

PRAYER WITH LITTLE ONES
After some reading, singing and other things you might do, spend time praying together. Your kids will want to participate in prayer the more often you pray together. Be sure to pray before meals and before bed, because the routine of praying then will become normal for them and will build habits of prayer into their lives for years to come.

Take the time of prayer seriously. Your children are learning from you what it is like to pray to our Father in Heaven. It’s important you don’t rush through this time. Make sure when the adults pray that the children can understand what you are saying. When you are letting the children pray, teach them to pray in sentences that are precise and clear for them to understand. The real fun will begin when you let them begin to pray without your help. This is where you as a parent will learn that God cares for all of our requests, both great and small, which means that you must believe that God cares about the health of your dog and even more, He cares about your child’s desire to take everything to Him in prayer. Parents, become like little children as you enter the kingdom of Heaven.

As you enter into prayer, ask them three questions about prayer: “What are you thankful for?” “What do you need to ask God for?” and “Who do you want to pray for?” After a few moments of talking about the requests, pray for them and/or allow your kids to pray for their requests. Finally, always have a time where the kids hear you praying for them. Here are some other things to consider.


Fee free to only ask one of the three questions.
Teach your kids early to pray the Lord’s Prayer.
When they have a request for themselves, help them understand what they are asking of God.

BLESSING LITTLE ONES
When the kids are going to bed or are gathered around together, it is important for parents and particularly fathers to speak a word of blessing over the group and, as much as possible, pray a blessing over each individual child. Our Father in heaven blesses us countless times in Scripture and speaks a direct word of blessing in nearly every book of the Bible. Your prayer of blessing is teaching your children of your love for them, that you  want the absolute best God would have for them, that you desire them to know God intimately, and by giving them the blessing of God, your children learn from their earliest days to hear and believe the Words of God. The first place to start would be in Numbers 6:24-27 and then to read the opening and closing of the New Testament Epistles, as well as numerous Psalms or selected verses from the Psalms.

FINAL QUESTIONS
How long should devotions be? As little as five minutes to as long you think your children can stay focused. 

What if we have never done this? Start for five minutes and look to build up longer. Spend one minute on each part if your children aren’t accustomed to sitting still and listening. Within a couple of days, you should be able to go longer.

Is it possible to only do one part of the liturgy? Absolutely. Remember this isn’t congregational worship. The word liturgy is used only to give clarity to having a plan and a routine, so feel free to only pray or sing, etc. The goal is a Christian household where these types of things are normal.

What if I have age wide age differences in children? As much as possible, teach to the oldest child there. It is better for the younger kids to try and catch up than for the older children  to fall behind.

What if I have no children in the home? May a husband and a wife use this liturgy? Of course. This pattern is simple enough for children and may easily be profitable for adults.

What do I do if my children don’t want to participate but would rather sit and observe? Do not force them to pray if they don’t want to. Some children do not like to be put on the spot, so take things slow. Two, three and four year olds often change their demeanor and level of shyness as they get older so be patient.

Should parents have a separate devotional time together than with the children? It is wise for parents to pray together separately from the children on a frequent basis. Parents need time to discuss and be alone, regroup and prepare for the work the next day or days. They must take time to stop and pray together or read a passage of Scripture as their time of prayer.

Is it ok for the mother to participate in leading? Yes. While the father should be leading the time together, it is never wrong the mother to lead in parts.

CONCLUSION

One single time of family devotion will accomplish very little, but frequency will yield fruit for many years to come. As little ones move to older ages, you will see this fruit come to bear. Be patient parents. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labor, labor in vain." Remember that the Lord your God builds your home and these are some of his tools. Don’t depend on the tools, but the foundation, the Chief Cornerstone. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.