Not comprehensive but handy: A Cheat Sheet Of All The Presidential Candidates’ Family-Specific Policies
The Persuasion Podcast at Christ and Pop Culture discusses how Christians can navigate the minefield of this year’s election and breaks down the perceived strengths and disadvantages of the two major candidates in a fairly even-handed way. Not a rigorous political guide or analysis, but an overall reflection on how to empathize across the spectrum.
In case you missed it: Malcolm Gladwell does three podcasts on inequalities in higher education
The invisibility of smart poor kids:
The trade-offs colleges face in accepting lots of smart poor kids:
A critique of huge philanthropic contributions to elite private universities:
A good discussion over Gladwell’s analogy of soccer and basketball as weak-link vs strong-link networks in that third episode:
At NewCity Church, we encourage parents to disciple their children and suggest the Westminster Shorter Catechism as a useful structure to do so. We also endorse Training Hearts Teaching Minds, a family devotional based on the Shorter Catechism, by Starr Meade.
The Children’s Church is currently finishing a two-year cycle of going through the entire Shorter Catechism — we talked about Q. 106 (“For what do we pray in the sixth request?”) this past Sunday and will tackle the last question (“What does the conclusion of the Lord’s prayer teach us?”) on September 25.
What does Children’s Church look like?
Children’s Church was developed to help younger children (under 10) get acclimated to a Sunday worship environment and understand basic practices and tenets of our faith. As such, we’ve developed a format meant to echo major elements of the general Sunday service.
We begin with a Call to Worship and singing. We then recite the Lord’s Prayer and rehearse a song tied to a monthly theme. We then discuss a question from the Westminster Shorter Catechism, read a relevant Bible passage, have a Prayer of Confession. We will then collect an offering and have a snack. During the snack, I will typically read a Bible passage related to our secondary curriculum and discuss it. Afterwards we will end the session with a craft, game, song, or video reinforcing this secondary curriculum.
Our current secondary curriculum is Teach Me to Worship where each month we consider one major element of Sunday: Call to Worship, Prayer, Praise, Tithes & Offerings, the Reading of the Word, and so on. We’ve also used in the past two years The Jesus Storybook Bible and The Biggest Story, both of which emphasize the gospel redemptive narrative arc of the whole Bible.
Occasionally I will post on this blog some reflections about topics covered or discussions had at the most recent Children’s Church. While these are personal reflections, I hope they are edifying to the parents of our church. I’m always delighted to receive comments, questions, or feedback; please post them below relevant blog posts, or email me, or post on our private Facebook page. Thanks!
Research tips from Stuff You Should Know (podcast): evaluating shadiness of studies
Q: For what do we pray in the fifth request?
A: In the fifth request (Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors), encouraged by God’s grace, which makes it possible for us sincerely to forgive others, we pray that for Christ’s sake God would freely pardon all our sins.
This month we are discussing Tithes and Offerings. Last week we considered how God, being the creator of all, is therefore the rightful owner of all. As a result, whatever we have can be said to be a gift from Him, including our “daily bread.”
We also discussed how an offering is a act of gratitude and, therefore, doesn’t have to be money. A few children bring in a regular tithe to Children’s Church, but that’s often more a gesture from the parents; most of our little congregation don’t receive an allowance to draw a tithe from. We discussed, however, what things we do get regularly: toys, food, books, time. There’s no reason why these things can’t be “tithed” in Children’s Church.
I strongly encourage you (that is, parents at NewCity) to talk to your child or children about whether they want to give a Sunday offering to God and what they have that they might offer. A snack perhaps? I can collect them and have them available at a later time. Books? Toys? These could be donated to the Nursery or to one of our partners in the Mercy Ministry. Time? Maybe your child just wants to make a piece of art or write a thank-you letter to our Lord. None of these things will go unappreciated.
What’s most important is that these come from a sincere desire to worship and thank God. Bring up the topic and help them think through possibilities, but don’t pressure them into action. We discussed in Children’s Church how we are able to give grace to others when we truly understand the grace given to us.
We revisited the story of Cain and Abel. Most of the children knew Cain killed Abel, and several remembered he did it out of envy. None of them knew, however, why God found favor with Abel’s offering and not with Cain’s and understandably so — no explicit reason is given in the text.
The context is filled in later, in covenants God makes with Israel and fulfills in Christ. Abel provided a blood sacrifice, a life for a life left unfulfilled in sin. We considered how this sheep, probably the first lamb Abel ever domesticated, was raised by him, nurtured, and protected by him, slept by his side, listened to his monologues and dreamy thoughts, and grew to be his most valuable possession in every possible way. For Abel to sacrifice this sheep was a profound recognition of the debt he owed and yet could still not pay.
Speaking to Pastor Paul’s sermon, Cain’s envy reflects a worldview missing an understanding of that love, its power and cost. When we see our relationships as fundamentally transactional, everything around us becomes flattened in value… including our own lives. Happiness becomes a matter of bargains, and justice is reduced to bookkeeping. And we are left hollow and bereft in the end, alone in a world of stuff, lashing out at a loss we cannot fathom.
This is why giving back must come from within. Only one gift ever mattered, and it has already been given. What matters for us is the heart that springs forth our own desire to give.
Michael Shannon reads Robert Leleux’s essay on how his mother’s Alzheimer’s turned out to be a blessing: