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Developing Spiritual Champions for Christ Milton V. Uecker Ed.D. Columbia International University A Heart for Children “We will not conceal them from their children, but tell the generation to come the praises of the Lord” Psalm 78 Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

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developing spiritual champions for christ

Developing Spiritual Champions for Christ

Milton V. Uecker Ed.D.

Columbia International University

a heart for children

A Heart for Children

“We will not conceal them from their children, but tell the generation to come the praises of the Lord”

Psalm 78

who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven
Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?

And He (Jesus) called a child to Himself and set him before them.

Matthew 18:2

and the disciples rebuked them
…and the disciples rebuked them.
  • But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.
  • And after laying hands on them, He departed from there. Matthew 19:13-14
jesus focus precious in his sight roy zuck
Jesus’ FocusPrecious in His Sight (Roy Zuck)
  • Want to enter God’s kingdom? Become like little children
  • Want to be great in God’s eyes? Then become like little children
jesus focus
Jesus’ Focus
  • Want to let Jesus know you welcome and receive him? Then welcome little children
  • Want to avoid judgment at God’s hand? Then don’t lead little children astray
jesus focus7
Jesus’ Focus
  • Want to identify with God’s plans? Then don’t belittle or despise little children
  • Want to follow Jesus’ example? Then love, pray for, accept, be with and bless little children

Questions asked by Roy Zuck in Precious in His Sight, page 202

the foundation
The Foundation
  • …and appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should teach them to their children. That the generation to come might know even the children yet to be born.

Psalm 78: 5-6

And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.

Deut. 6:6-7

a father s instruction
A Father’s Instruction
  • Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
  • Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding. For I give you sound teaching; Do not abandon my instruction… Proverbs 4
the way of blessing
The way of blessing
  • My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your sight; keep them in the midst of your heart. For they are life to those who find them and health to all their body. Proverbs 4
as a result
As a result….

“No nation has ever set the child in the midst more deliberately than the Jews did.”

Wm. Barclay

“Our chief ambition is for the education of our children…we take most pains of all with the instruction of children, and esteem the observation of the laws, and the piety corresponding with them, the most important affair of our whole life.”


a strategic issue
A Strategic Issue
  • Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (2006)
    • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
    • Jason Mandryk, The State of the Gospel
    • 500 young leaders from 110 nations
unreached groups
Unreached Groups
  • Among many unreached groups, the majority are children under age 15
  • “If we cannot reach children we cannot reach the world with the Gospel”
  • The significance of the “4-14 window”
    • Time of greatest responsiveness
transforming children into spiritual champions george barna
Transforming Children into Spiritual ChampionsGeorge Barna

Why focus on this particular age group (ages 5 to 12, thirty-one million)?

“Because if you want to shape a person’s life---whether you are most concerned about his or her moral, spiritual, physical, intellectual, emotional or economic development---it is during this crucial eight years that lifelong habits, values, beliefs and attitudes are formed. (page 18)

“Given the trends indicating that your spiritual condition by the age of 13 is a strong predictor of your spiritual profile as an adult, it seems clear that a deep and robust spiritual life demands intentional and strategic spiritual nurturing during the early childhood and adolescent years.”

page 41

things have changed
Things have changed
  • Parents today, evangelical parents included, are more concerned with their child’s happiness and general education than in the spiritual development and well being of their children.
  • Parents are even unclear as to what spiritual growth should look like, in that most think they are doing an above-average job of facilitating spiritual growth in their children.
  • Even though only 5% of churched parents have a biblical worldview, two thirds (64%), think they are doing an excellent or good job of helping their children to develop a worldview based on the Bible. (Barna)
  • Reality, Truth, Man, Value, Future
Although fewer than 10 percent of all churched households spend any time at all during a typical week either reading the Bible or engaging in substantive prayer as a family unit, 72% believe they are doing well when it comes to providing a regular regimen of spiritual experiences and instruction to their children.
  • Consider the hidden curriculum
Even though fewer than one-twentieth of churched households ever worship God outside of a church service or have any type of regular Bible study or devotional time together during a typical week and two-thirds of their children are not born again, three-fourths of those parents claim they are doing a stellar job of nurturing their children’s relationship with God
are we missing the mark
Are we missing the mark?
  • Three-quarters of pastors claim their church is doing an excellent or good job of getting kids to adopt a biblical worldview. In spite of that, we know that fewer than five percent of churched kids who are born again have a biblical worldview by age 13.

George Barna

where is the focus
Where is the Focus?
  • Church leaders are generally uniformed as to the spiritual content and practices related to their children’s ministry.
  • Attendance and the curriculum purchased are all that is known
  • Almost no one has insight into whether children are maturing in their faith.

George Barna

the result
The Result
  • “…because most adults received “ministry leftovers” (limited funding, minimal instructional resources and teaching that was ill-focused) when they were young, they became exactly what we made them:

well intentioned, inadequately nurtured, minimally equipped secular people who dabble in religious thought and activity.”

page 48

the adolescent view of god
The Adolescent View of God
  • Soul Searching: The religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. Christian Smith
  • A look at teenage spirituality and beliefs
  • A comprehensive study of teens from every sector of our society
moralistic therapeutic deism
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
  • God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth
  • God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions
  • The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself
  • God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem
  • Good people go to heaven when they die.
what are they thinking
What are they thinking?
  • People’s discourse roughly reflects concerns and interests
  • Assessing orientations to religious and therapeutic concerns
  • Little reference to historically central religious and theological ideas.
what they said
What they said…
  • Being sinners 47
  • Repentance 12
  • Expressing love for God 9
  • Glorifying God 6
  • Salvation 6
  • God’s grace 3
  • Loving one’s neighbor 3
compared with
Compared with…
  • Being made happy 112
  • Feeling good about self 99
  • Feeling better about life 92
  • Personal satisfaction 26
  • Personal fulfillment 21
  • The phrase “feel happy” 2000 +
the role of the christian school
The role of the Christian School
  • A support, a third tier influencer
  • The importance of significant adults and peers as models for belief and practice
  • Evidence from the research
    • Private protestant schooling has a significant impact on an adolescent’s religiosity
education joseph wood krutch
Education?Joseph Wood Krutch

Education is that which experience has shown will lead (the student) to a true understanding of his own nature, his own needs and his own wants. We could say the ideal of education is not conformity, not acculturation, but the full development of human nature’s potentialities.

psalm 78 god s strategy for home and school
Psalm 78: God’s Strategyfor Home and School
  • “…tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,

And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done. (verse 4)

psalm 145
Psalm 145

“Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable . One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” verses 3-4

psalm 78
Psalm 78
  • This God gave us a “testimony” and a law
  • Commanded our fathers (us) to teach them to the children
  • That the next generation might know
  • And put their confidence (trust) in God
  • And keep His commandments
building foundations transforming children into spiritual champions barna
Building FoundationsTransforming Children into Spiritual Champions (Barna)
  • The Bible: Acceptance of and reliance upon Bible as a trustworthy source of direction and wisdom
  • Commanding Knowledge of Biblical Content: Teach in a way that connects the biblical principles with life circumstances
  • Identify Organizing Principles: Provide a comprehensive framework—the redemptive story
  • A “Burning Desire to Obey God”: Commitment to God’s standards as manifested in daily choices and actions
the alternative psalm 78
The AlternativePsalm 78
  • A generation that
    • Is stubborn
    • Is rebellious
    • Has an unprepared heart
    • Has a spirit that is not faithful to God
    • Refuses to walk in His law
    • Forgets God altogether and
    • Is on a path to destruction
personal evaluation
Personal Evaluation
  • My home
  • My church
  • My school
  • Am I prepared?
  • Are my churches efforts on behalf of children supported?
  • How is my school contributing to my child’s spiritual growth?