Our Children’s Ministry Director (Janet) and I have been reading and discussing “Show Them Jesus” for a number of weeks now. I believe this wonderful book should be read by anyone who is leading, teaching, or raising kids. It’s just that good! My greatest desire for the children and youth of New Life is to see them grow up and love Jesus Christ more than anything, or anyone else. This book will help give you ideas on how to make that happen. “Show Them Jesus” is loaded with references to God’s Word and it is thoroughly gospel centered.
You can find Jack’s website here. (You will find lots of great articles and resources.)
Here are just a few quotes from the book that I wanted to share with you.
When kids go to college and stop following Jesus
Today, a frightening number of kids are growing up in churches and Christian homes without ever being captured by the gospel of Jesus. As children and teenagers they may seem to be believers, but then they reach their college and young-adult years and quit. They quit church-and any growing commitment to Jesus.
These kids actually have good reasons to quit. They look back and realize that they learned much about Christian behavior and churchy experiences, but whatever they learned about Jesus didn’t really change them. They never saw him so strikingly that he became their one, overriding hope and their greatest love. They were never convinced that Jesus s better-a zillion times better-than anything and everything else. p. 3-4
The way to handle every sin
It means that the most powerful way to handle every sin in the life of the church is to apply a deeper understanding of the cross of Christ. p. 15
Raising little Pharisees
No how-to-live lesson can wake the spiritually dead. You might as well be teaching corpses. If a kid is still dead in self-love, such a lesson will, at best, only get him to work harder at a selfish, manipulative sort of religion. But new life springs up where the good news is proclaimed. It hatches loving wonder at Jesus and true gratitude to God. “For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). p. 46
How do kids grow spiritually?
We make a mistake if we think kids are saved by hearing the good news and trusting Jesus, but then grow as Christians some other way. p. 49
Jesus is always better
If kids are leaving the church, it’s because we’ve failed to give them a view of Jesus and his cross that’s compelling enough to satisfy their spiritual hunger and to give them the zeal they crave. They haven’t seen that Jesus himself is better than any “Jesus program.” He’s better than the music used to worship him. He’s better than a missions trip. He’s better than their favorite youth leader. He’s also better than money. Better than video games. Better than romantic teen movies. Better than sex. Better than popularity or power.
We’ve failed too many kids. We’ve fee them things to do. We’ve feed them “worshipful” experiences. But we’ve failed to feed them more than a spoonful of the good news. Now they’re starving and they’ll eat anything. They’re trying to feed their souls with something-maybe even a churchy thing-that feels like it fits them, when what they need is someone utterly better than themselves. p. 52
My favorite quote from the book
The good news takes us daily from despair to astonished laughter. With relief in our eyes we look at the man who’s done all this for us. And who do we see? We see the strongest, yet gentlest, most regal, and yet most humble person imaginable. Most of all, we see the kind of lover we’ve never known before. Jesus’s love for us is pure love. It has nothing to do with us being the least bit lovely. If it did, we’d feel pressure to keep up whatever earned his love. But no, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful” (2 Timothy 2:13). He loves us forever. No payback needed. No conditions. No guilt trips. We are loved, period.
And where that is believed, the heart is won. p. 69
The Bible is one epic story
The Bible is one epic story about God saving his people. We can’t rightly understand any part of it unless we understand the context. This epic story centers on the person and work of Jesus. If we cut individual stories off from the Bible’s central story arc about Jesus, we miss the main thing the Bible wants to say-and fashion Bible stories that aren’t biblical. p. 86
Teachers need to think through the lesson carefully ahead of time
If you teach Bible lessons, you do need to come up with your own lesson content. Even if you use published lessons-even if they’re good, Jesus-centered lessons-you still need to set them down for a time. You need to go through the process of studying, thinking, and finding wonder in Jesus yourself. p. 102
Teaching the good news to kids from the Old Testament
Years ago someone told me to never mention Jesus when teaching the Old Testament. That way, the theory went, my students would feel the full brunt of the old ache-the weight of sin and the hunger for salvation. When I get around to teaching Jesus, the good news would feel that much better.
Well, I can’t do that. Never mind that it’s bad theology-the good news is just too good! I’m not able to keep such a secret. How could I possibly know the full song begun in the Old Testament and not sing it out every time I teach? It’s too explosive. If I tried to hold it in, I would burst. p. 120-121
Making all of this very practical for teachers
The next week I came to class with a plan. I had a sign that I taped to the wall. It read:
Jesus is better than anything else because…
“Here’s what we’re going to do, ” I told the kids. “Every week, when we’re done with our lesson, well write out at least one thing we learned about Jesus that completes this sentence. Some weeks we may learn two or three things, or even 5 to ten things. But whatever we learn about Jesus we’ll write down on a card and tape to this wall. We’re making a list. This way I’ll have to teach you about Jesus every week, and you’ll learn lots of ways he’s the best.”
I laid out the rules: “Every card needs to be different-something new every week. And it has to be something amazing enough to go on the wall. We’re going to do this all year.”
One kid was looking at the wall, imagining. “That’s going to be a long list,” he said. “The longest list in the church.” Exactly. p. 128
Teaching Jesus to kids the wrong way
The first point of studying the person of Jesus must always be to wonder at him, not to copy him. There are teachers who show kids how astounding Jesus is only to tell them, “You should be like that.” Ouch! Those kids quickly get to where the last thing they want is to hear another way that Jesus is better. They learn to resent Jesus. Then our chance to wow them with Jesus is lost.
Yes, Jesus is our example. As kids come to love him, they will want to be like him. When that happens regularly, wanting to be like him will follow naturally enough. p. 133