Confessions of a Children's Core Training Teacher

If you had asked me--going into day one of teaching first and second graders in Core Training--how I thought it was going to go, I would have answered: "Probably not well." Never having been trained as a teacher, and not possessing a lot of creativity when it comes to filling long periods of time with children, I had little faith in my ability to connect with them and hold their attention.

I didn't have a lot of tools in my belt for handling this type of setting, but I did have God's promise that his word was profitable for teaching and that it would equip me for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So if I had nothing else at least I had God's word and that, I knew, was ultimately sufficient.

Speaking of God's word, I also knew we were beginning with a new curriculum that walks children through the entire Bible over the course of three years. So I fully expected that we would be beginning this journey in the garden.

Imagine my surprise, in the days leading up to that first Sunday, when I opened to the first scheduled lesson and found...Dagon. That's right. I thought I was going to get to start out with the easy stuff...creation, Adam and Eve, the apple...Nope. I was about to walk into my first experience teaching kids in almost a decade to share a story about an idol who falls down in the presence of the ark of God and loses some limbs.

When that first Sunday came, I arrived and greeted Jan Watson (who has been a joy to teach alongside). "I'm afraid I'm not much of a teacher," I told her.

"Me either," she responded.

"And kids aren't really my thing," I continued.

"Me either!" she laughed. And that's when we knew things were about to get really interesting.

And, guess what. They did.

The kids really dug Dagon. They got excited when we threw stones at Goliath. And when we used every toy instrument we could find to celebrate the return of the ark of God.

We waited to see if some magical powers of the universe would send down fire to ignite our sacrifice. (Spoiler alert: Never happened.) We confettied our classroom repeatedly to represent how God's people had continued to fall into sin and destroy the temple. And then we held our own Passover celebration when it was rebuilt.

We went on a desperate search for Jesus when his parents left him in the temple. We dressed like John the Baptist and ate locusts. (They were raisins.) We tried, and failed, to recreate Jesus's first miracle. And we may have been a bit startled when he turned the tables and sent the moneychangers' coins a-flyin'.

We were visited by Nicodemus as he was sneaking back from his late-night chat with Jesus. We tried to help him decipher Jesus's instructions about being born again. We also learned how to shine our lights into the darkest corners of our classroom, and our world.

Thanks to a solid Gospel-centered curriculum with plenty of activities and illustrations, we haven't had a single dull moment this year. These kids have amazed us with their knowledge of God's word, their ability to memorize scripture, their recall of past lessons, and their precious tender hearts as they requested prayer for everything from sick kitties to flood victims and refugees.

This year has been a success, not because Jan or I had any talents to bring to the table, but because the Lord's grace was sufficient in our areas of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). Because he is able to equip us with everything good that we may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight (Hebrews 13:21).  

We are God's plan for building up the body of Christ into maturity, "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Each of our children's Core Training teachers is one of those joints with which the Lord has equipped our body. And they are crucial to its growth and health. Please pray about whether God is calling you to serve the body in this important role. I promise you won't regret it.

Where We've Been...Where We're Headed

One of the primary goals over the past couple of years at PBC has been to establish a foundation for the future. A foundation, based firmly in the Word of God, that clearly says who we are and what we are going to be about. And, while it may be overreaching to say we have accomplished that goal, we have at least laid some groundwork and charted the course.

We believe we are a body created by the gospel, called to submit to the Word, commanded to follow Christ, and commissioned to make disciples--all for the glory of God. That last part is key. We believe we exist ultimately for the glory of God. We believe all things exist for the glory of God. All things exist and are being worked out according to His passion, His pleasure, His plan, and for His name’s sake.

God creates, calls, rescues, redeems, saves, restores, judges, destroys, and restrains--all so that that He might be praised. Everything God does is for His own glory. Therefore we want everything we do to be to that same end. And at PBC we endeavor to do that through gospel-centered worship, training, community, and mission. Our ultimate strategy in glorifying God is to be a church of disciple makers who worship God, get trained, live in community, and serve on mission. We want to echo and live out these words from an unknown missionary…

"If the glory of God is our supreme passion, this will redefine both the goal of our task and the manner in which we pursue that task. The goal of our task is that the earth be filled with the knowledge of His glory as the waters cover the sea. Our passion is to see Him receive the glory that is due His Name from every tribe, tongue, people and nation. Everything else is simply a means to that end. We are not seeking to add numbers that we can report to the organization; we are seeking to add worshippers to the choir of heaven, who will live every area of their lives to the praise of His glory. This focus invests a new, holy seriousness to discipleship and the life of the church. We are not content unless His glory is proclaimed, reflected, upheld and adored among the people to whom He has called us. The task is not about us, and it’s not even ultimately about the nations. The focus is on Him."

By the grace of God, we have done a lot in the past couple of years to move the needle toward this goal. We have walked humbly through a shoring up of what it means to be a member of His church, which is the gospel made visible. We have worked to align how we steward the financial resources that God has entrusted to us with the mission he created us for. We have been able to give substantially more towards urgent spiritual and physical needs around the world. We have had the privilege to send teams globally to work among the unreached and to begin developing strong partnerships for the purpose of long-term disciple making. We have seen the Lord add to our number and show His kindness to us at every turn.

There is much to give God glory for at PBC, and we should and must give Him glory for it all. However, instead of resting in what God has done, let us press forward in asking Him to do abundantly more. Let us not discount what God can accomplish in and through us. We, the church, are God’s plan to make Himself known, in Cahaba Heights and among all nations.

You would think God would have devised a better plan to make much of Himself, but in His infinite and perfect wisdom he created the church for this. The church is at the very heart of God’s purpose. We are not simply a people who have received God’s favor; we are to be reproducers of God’s favor. We were created, blessed, and commissioned to be a blessing to others.

With that in mind, let us rejoice in what God has done among us, but let us also press forward in endeavoring--through the strength He provides--to do abundantly more for the sake of His name in the church, in our community, and among all nations.