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Posted on April 11, 2017 11:12 AM by Josh Carter
Categories: Leadership
Leadership Catalyst CABA Report – April, 2017
Dr. Josh Carter
 
Ronnie Floyd, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention seems to advocate that our churches don’t necessarily suffer from bad leadership as much as they do from lack of forward leadership. Floyd says that forward leaders are those “who can cast a vision for a better future, inspire you to want to go there, and then lead you to experience it” Sadly, Floyd states, when it comes to the church today, forward leaders are missing in action. If we know this to be true, then what we do next is absolutely critical.
 
As the Leadership Catalyst for our association, my goal is first and foremost to continue to grow as a leader myself. One of my former pastors told me that a pastor can never lead anyone, or any congregation, further than he is himself. I believe forward leaders are growing leaders. And this has been my focus and our focus as an association as we have entered into 2017.
 
One of the ways that we have hoped to foster this growing of leaders has been through our “Why Preach Conference” on April 10-11. This conference brought in noted speakers, including Dr. Ken Weathersby and Dr. Herschael York to discuss and inspire the role of preaching in congregational life. This conference included worship led by a group of worship leaders within the association on Monday and Tuesday, as well as special breakouts for discussion around key pastoral leadership and preaching topics.
 
Another exciting leadership initiative has been to spark and foster new pastor networks through our association. We often say to our church members that we are better together than we are apart but then fail to apply this practice in our own lives. We believe pastors need a place to grow, share ideas, and even failures with one another. The next pastor leadership network meeting will be Tuesday, April 25 at 7:00 pm and will be hosted at Clough Pike Baptist. Dr. Mark Caner, who is president of a business unit for a fortune 500 company in Cincinnati, will be speaking to us about engaging Millennials in the church. Brent Cunningham, pastor of Bridgeway Baptist Church will be leading the pastor’s network on the East Side of Cincinnati and we are looking for other pastors to step-up to start or share about other similar groups around Cincinnati.
 
In addition to focusing on pastoral leadership growth in Cincinnati our association desires to see sparks in leadership in the areas of youth ministry, collegiate ministry, and women’s ministry. Our associational youth ministry leadership team is led by Steve Siekbert, pastor of First Baptist Church Felicity. Our associational collegiate ministry is led by Ken Dillard and our associational women’s ministry is led by Joanne Hopkins. 
 
As we look around our city and our association, what we know is that God is still raising up leaders, in our churches, our youth groups, on our college campuses, and even behind our pulpits. Wherever we are, in our city and in the lifespan of our ministry, whether we are full-time, bi-vocational, church planters, or other, leadership is waiting on us. The question is, are we ready to move forward?
Posted on April 11, 2017 11:04 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Leadership
Have you ever noticed that when Jesus taught, He enjoyed using powerful questions to get His audience to think more deeply?  Jesus never asked questions to get information.  He is the omniscient God in human flesh, after all.  Jesus used questions to influence people and to probe deeper into unexamined areas of the heart.  Jesus used questions to cause people to re-evaluate their lives and to help lead people in the right decision.  While attending a conference recently, I have been challenged with some probing questions related to the work of the church.
 
How is the church to govern itself and make decisions?  Should the church be managed like a business or corporation?  Should we be directed like a school?  Should the church operate on a political system where people try to influence people to endorse their point of view?  Should we make decisions like lawyers who argue their case in court?  Early in my ministry, I actually had a fellow suggest that the church should operate more like the military with a clear chain of command with the pastor as the commander-in-chief.  Frankly, I’ve seen pastors attempt to lead that way to the great peril of the church and their ministry.
 
It seems to me that the Bible teaches and implies a different kind of system than a business or political structure, although some principles may carry over to the church setting.  The Bible emphasizes a church working together like a family.  Some of the highest qualifications for pastoral leadership in the Bible are related to the pastor’s family.  The same is true for deacons. 

When the Apostle Paul gives instructions on how church members should interact and encourage one another he says, “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity” (1 Timothy 5:1-2).  We can learn a lot from business models and various governing structures, but at the end of the day, we are a spiritual family, demonstrating mutual respect and love for one another as we seek the Lord’s will together with a strong desire to please Him.
 
Does the church structure itself for control or for growth?  When we structure for control, we feel safe.  All of our doctrinal “t’s” are crossed and “i’s” are dotted.  Like the farmer, we like our growth to be controlled in nice neat rows.  It makes our jobs easier.  In the church, we like our formulas for what percentage of the budget goes to missions and what percentage goes to ministry.  We like our classrooms to be a certain size and our teacher to pupil ratio to follow a certain formula.  We look at square-footage charts to determine parking lot size and ohm meters to determine how to set the volume on the speakers.  But too much control can stifle growth.
 
Certainly, we need to be on the same page with the fundamental teachings of the Bible.  Of course, we need to plan budgets and have a strategy for building size and classrooms.  The vineyard owner knows he needs to prune some branches and tie up the vines that get too close to the ground.  There needs to be some oversight, but when God blesses and moves in a church, it isn’t one-size-fits-all.  In fact, as we read through the Bible, we seldom see God use a cookie-cutter approach to His work.  He uses one approach to defeat Jericho and another to defeat Ai.  Jesus approached Nicodemus in a different way than He approached the Woman at the Well.  He healed one man with a spoken word and another by putting mud on his eyes.  Church growth is messy at times.  It doesn’t always follow a predictable pattern.  In the Book of Acts, the church had to continually adapt itself to what God was doing.  It is much the same today.
 
David Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh.
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:16 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Direction
Direction Catalyst Report – CABA Semi-Annual Meeting 2017
Mark Snowden, Director of Missional Leadership
 
Mines run in seams. If gold were discovered in your church’s parking lot, it wouldn’t be a single chunk under a couple of parking spaces. It would run beyond your church’s property lines into the community beyond.
 
Andrew Fuller, a British pastor, once said, “There is a gold mine in India, but it seems as deep as the center of the earth. Who will venture to explore it?” A cobbler named William Carey answered Fuller’s godly challenge. In 1793 Carey became the first modern-day missionary. He left the relative comfort of England to take the Good News to India. And so must the Gospel spread beyond our church property lines!
 
April marks one year for me serving as CABA’s Director of Missional Leadership. Over the past year, I have viewed the Cincinnati Area as a godly gold mine! I have loved working with our leaders, attending church gatherings, and getting the sense that the Lord is at work in the lives of God’s people living in the Cincinnati Area.
 
Here are five areas addressed in the “WIGtake: What’s It Going to Take” study that are being worked out across nine counties in southwest Ohio:
1.      The 10 ministry teams were folded into five catalytic, fully cooperating task forces based on Ephesians 4:11: Catalytic Direction, Acts 1:8 Missions (go tell), Evangelism (tell), Leadership, and Disciple-making. The Catalysts now plan, collaborate, share resources, and mobilize those in our Cincinnati Area and outside it. Praise God for Tennessee Baptists engaging in a two-year partnership.
2.     Special attention was given to financial processes to foster trust and generosity. We have changed to a business management model. We are engaging in an associational Week of Prayer scheduled for May 14-20, 2017 that includes prayer guides and raising $4,900 for the Dunn/Hopkins Offering.
3.     Networks of pastors have begun starting with one group. We look forward this to spreading across the association as a way to create and fuel fellowship, leadership, and missions. The Preaching Conference on April 10-11 will be important in networking among pastors.
4.     A very simple church diagnostic tool was developed for CABA churches. It is available online free to churches to use as an evaluation tool. The Biblical Justice Study Group will help shine a light on church responsibilities, too.
5.     Communications has become clear and consistent. We have now have a revised monthly newsletter (CABA Focus), weekly leader briefings, an updated website with TRESS—Trailer Reservation System, improved signage, promotional tools for mission fairs, and an active Facebook page (like CincinnnatiBaptist).
 
Be sure to read the other reports in this Book of Reports. God is clearly at work in our Collegiate Ministry, Block Party Ministry, Disaster Relief, Youth, Prayer, Evangelism, Missions, Disciple-making, Women, Youth, and other ministry opportunities.
 
God is already at work in the gold mines that we call the Cincinnati Area. God wants us to mine those gold seams full of people who are far from the Lord. We must join God in His mission by cooperating to experience great things that bring glory to Him and fill the Great Commission.
                                                            
 
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:11 AM by Tom Pendergrass
Categories: Evangelism
2017 Evangelism Catalyst CABA Report
Tom Pendergrass
 
It has been a joy to serve again this year in Evangelism, this time as the Evangelism Catalyst for CABA. It has been a year of transition in understanding the new role for each Catalyst and my role in particular. It has been an honor to serve alongside the men who serve as Catalyst Leaders and alongside Mark Snowden. His friendship, encouragement, exhortation, and passion are several reasons why we brought him on board. To hear and see his vision and missional heart has been an inspiration.
 
I have focused the last few months on our Evangelistic Strategy, leading out in County-by-County meetings. We met in eight different counties and were graciously hosted by pastors in CABA who did a remarkable job! We had 26 churches participate. We followed up that training with our Evangelism Roundtable hosted by Clough Pike. We had eleven churches participate in which Jack Helton, Mark, and I led sessions. We also viewed “The Case for Christ” movie excerpts. This evangelistic movie is out for a special showing in theaters on April 7.
 
I wanted to give a special shout out to Jack Helton, our State Evangelism director and to NAMB who provided our Three Circles Evangelism Kits for free. Jack’s leadership and passion for souls is a resource I highly encourage our pastors to use.
 
Disaster Relief has fallen under my umbrella and I so look forward to getting to sit down with all our leaders as we plan toward the future and expand our borders. CABA can take great thanks for the tremendous job out Mud-Out unit does every year, working alongside our NAMB partners. We will announce soon a couple of dates to meet and network together to see Disaster Relief expanded in CABA.
 
The Block Party Ministry is underway! A special thanks to Patti and all the she does to set this up. Registration is now online as the TRESS, the Trailer Reservation System at www.cincinnatibaptist.com. Please remember that this ministry is used virtually non-stop once the weather breaks and the sun begins to shine again in Ohio—160 times in 2016. Make every effort to leave the equipment better than when you receive it. We also stress that you need to be trained before you can use the trailer. These help meet insurance requirements.  Please check the CABA website for the next training you can attend. The team at Lakota Hills do an awesome job of hosting and training our church leaders.
 
One final thought that I would like to leave you with is what I stressed at all our Evangelism Training events, “NEVER DO MINISTRY ALONE!” We exist to make disciples and train up the next generation of CABA and Kingdom leaders.
 
See you at the Evangelism Expo April 29 that we’re hosting at Urbancrest!
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:09 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
Disciple-making Catalyst CABA Report—April 2017
David Frasure, Disciple-making Catalyst
 
A healthy church is a church that is making disciples who can make disciples.  From the bed-babies to the senior adults, our task is to move people toward the goal of winning and making disciples for Christ that He may be glorified and pleased.
 
All of us can see and value the larger group ministry of the church.  The morning worship gathering creates a wonderful place for worship and edification.  Yet, as we study the life of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostles, we cannot help but notice the value of using smaller groups for interactive discipleship.  Discipleship happens best in the context of relationships that are developed in small groups.
 
Because healthy small groups are so effective, that has been a key emphasis in our strategy for making disciples in the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.  According to our ACP reports, CABA churches averaged about 8,500 people in worship last year, yet only had 5,400 people in Sunday School and Small Group Ministry.  That means about 42 % (3,100) of our morning attendees are not being discipled and, in all likelihood, about 2500 will no longer be active church members five years from now (research shows that 80 % of those who attend worship only will drop out of church in five years).  Our churches need to reach 500 people a year, just to break even!
 
To keep more people in discipleship last year, we offered special training for pastors and Sunday School directors.  David Francis, the Sunday School specialist from LifeWay Christian Resources, came to our Association, offering rich insights into Sunday School and Small Group Ministry.
 
We have also been emphasizing Vacation Bible School training in our Association.  Last year we had one of the largest VBS clinics in Ohio, in our area.  Nearly half of all Christians come to faith in Christ before they turn 13, with two-thirds receiving Christ before their 18th birthday.  Obviously, our ministry to children is important to the kingdom and it is strategic for the success of the church. In addition, we are providing resources for churches to host Backyard Bible Clubs in an effort to reach and disciple more children and their families for Christ.
 
As we look forward to the days ahead, I am excited to announce that we will have a VBS Clinic on Tuesday, April 25 at 7:00 PM at Fellowship Baptist Church in Maineville, a Children’s Ministry Conference on Saturday, September 9 at FBC South Lebanon, and we are planning a Sunday School Workshop on Saturday, October 7 with Allan Taylor, who formerly served with Pastor Johnny Hunt at FBC Woodstock as the Minister of Education, and currently serves on staff at LifeWay.  We also are developing a Discipleship Team and free resources that can aid churches in worship, children’s ministry and small groups.
 
Posted on April 10, 2017 8:06 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Missions
2017 CABA Missions Report for Book of Reports
 
Fran Trascritti served six months as Missions Catalyst for CABA. He has resigned to take a position with LifeWay Resources and will be missed. In the six months that Dr. Trascritti served CABA, he worked with the CABA director to develop an association-wide Acts 1:8 missions strategy.
 
JERUSALEM:
a.     Hunger Funds: CABA changed its reporting forms in the first quarter 2017 to track God’s activity. Praise God for the 20 evangelistic encounters, six professions of faith and two baptisms. Two churches had 14 volunteers who served 424 hot meals just in the first quarter 2017. Let the CABA office know if your church has an evangelistic feeding opportunity. This project allows CABA to reimburse expenses through giving to the State Convention of Baptists in Ohio and the North American Mission Board to the glory of God! 100% of giving to Hunger goes to meals. SBC Hunger Funds go to provide hot meals.
b.     Global Impact Conference: CABA joined in with Urbancrest to help support their GIC with more than 800 attending from five CABA churches. Mission education came in the form of booths, displays, testimonies, and a “Taste and See” night with foods from around the world.
c.     Plans are underway to begin Unfunded Church Planting. Travis Smalley, Oliver Hawkins, Fran Trascritti, and Mark Snowden met to begin planning for (unfunded) church planting by lay and bi-vocational approaches.
 
JUDEA:
a.     Mission Trips to Cincinnati are encouraged by every church. God has placed us in nine counties. A Mapping Project is planned to identify peoples in our communities, focus prayer, and then connect with them here, there, and everywhere.
b.     The Cincinnati Area has agreed to a partnership with the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board through 2019. Whenever a church visits Cincinnati, then we should respond with missions back in their community.
c.     P2 Missions and World Changers are planned this July. Volunteer to help with meals and prayer.
 
SAMARIA:
NEW! Boston: CABA has been approved to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have ongoing partnerships with New England. Mark Jones, SCBO partnership coordinator has requested CABA work in Boston. How you doin’?
 
ENDS OF THE EARTH:
NEW! Refugees of Southern Italy: CABA’s leaders have accepted the strategic opportunity to join in with other Ohio Baptists who have an ongoing partnership with southern Italy – from Naples to the refugees of Italy’s “heel.” Steve Long, SCBO partnership coordinator, requested that we coordinate work with Steve Brown, IMB missionary serving in Naples, Italy. Ciao!
Posted on March 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
There is an old story of two lumberjacks who had a competition to see who could saw the most wood in a day. The first man was young and strong and no doubt had the greatest endurance. The second was not as young and not as strong, but had years of wisdom on his side. As the two began at the break of day, it was obvious that both were intent on winning the competition. The only real surprise was that the older lumberjack would stop and while he rested, he would casually sharpen his saw blade.
 
At the end of the day, the young man had done an impressive amount of work, but the older lumberjack had clearly won the contest. The loser had worked harder, but had not worked smarter. By keeping his blade sharp, the experienced man was much more effective.
 
Many businesses spend a great deal of money providing "in service training" for their employees. Why? They know it is worth the extra effort and finances to make this investment in their people. Wouldn't you rather go to a doctor that stays abreast of the latest medical breakthroughs? Ask school teachers about what it takes to keep their teaching certificates. They are required to continue learning in order to hold onto their classrooms.
 
It also makes a lot of sense to stay sharp as a Bible teacher. Let's freely admit that none of us have "arrived" as master teachers. We all have room for improvement. That's why a wise teacher continues to intentionally grow, developing skills and character.
 
There are at least five areas in which Bible teachers need to keep growing:
1.Spiritual character. We need to study and develop deeper character, becoming more like the real Master Teacher, Jesus.
2.Bible knowledge. We need to understand Bible doctrines and biblical principles. There is no shortcut here.
3.Communication skills. It is possible to have great Bible knowledge and yet have great difficulty communicating it.
4.People skills. Poor people skills can actually drive out more people than the best outreach program can bring in.
5.Responsibility recognition. As we understand our responsibilities and accept the assignment the Lord has entrusted to us, we will be the team players the church needs to be most effective.
 
So how do we grow in these areas? Obviously, we need to commit to remain lifelong learners. Even the Apostle Paul requested that parchments and books be brought to him while he was imprisoned so he could learn and grow. We also need to read books to help us develop our craft. We must listen to other teachers and learn how they prepare and become more efficient. We should attend conferences and seminars that allow us to get better. We can listen to podcasts and read magazines on the topic of teaching.
 
David Frasure is the Disciple-making Catalyst for CABA and pastors FBC So. Lebanon.
 
It is so true: You can chop more wood with a sharp axe than a dull one.
Posted on February 10, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
The argument could be made that our lives are made up of that to which we commit ourselves.  The most important decisions of life require commitment and these commitments powerfully shape our lives.  Today we continue to learn the 10 commitments of a healthy disciple.
 
6.  The commitment to discern and follow God’s will for my life.  Discerning God’s will is usually as easy as reading the Bible.  God has shown us His will in Scripture.  We don’t even need to pray about whether or not to attend church, pray, witness or tithe—the Bible already tells us the will of God on such things.  The principles of the Bible guide us to avoid relationships that will corrupt our behavior and those things that would stir up sinful desires in us.  Through the principles of the Bible we know we should not be unequally yoked in a covenant partnership or to do that which will harm our bodies, God’s temple.  As we surrender ourselves to God’s agenda, He even promises to put His desires in our hearts (Phil. 2:13) so we can know His will for our lives.
 
7.  The commitment to be an active part of my church family.  God established the local church to worship God, build believers and share Christ with the world.    A Christian without a local church is like a football player without a team or a soldier without a platoon.  The idea of a Christian not plugged into a local congregation is foreign to the Word of God.  Each of us have a responsibility to protect the unity of the church, to serve the people of the church and support the work of the church.  That requires that we are active and involved.
 
8.  The commitment to minister to others.  First Peter 4:10 reminds us that every Christian is gifted by God to minister to the church.  A healthy disciple is involved in a ministry.  It is a stewardship of our gifts, talents and experiences.  Jesus served His disciples to help us understand the priority of serving others.  We will need to develop humility and learn to put the needs of others ahead of our own needs at times, but that is what it means to be His servant.  Jesus taught us that we descend into greatness.  Disciples lead by serving.
 
9.  The commitment to share Christ with the lost.  Disciples are called “fishers of men.”  It isn’t the job of the preacher or a chosen few.  It’s the mission of all of God’s people to be His witnesses.  Surely, we will have to overcome our timidity, but ignoring the Great Commission is not an option.  As we rely on the Holy Spirit and share what Christ has done for us, each of us can be used to lead people to Jesus.  As we take the initiative to build relationship bridges with the unsaved and “test the waters” for a gospel conversation, we grow in our walk with Christ, and sometimes, have the joy of leading another to know Jesus as Lord.
 
10.  The commitment to mentor others to become disciples.  By making disciples who can make disciples, we multiply rather than just add people to the kingdom of God.  Second Timothy 2:2 gives us the example of Paul discipling Timothy, who discipled “faithful men” who discipled “others also.”  Jesus discipled 12 who discipled others and the church has continued the process even today.  The church is only one generation away from becoming extinct if we fail to disciple others.  Whether it is at home or at church, we each know someone we can disciple for Christ.
 
When Moses died, Joshua was able to take up the mantle of leadership.  But the Bible tells us that after Joshua died there arose a generation who did not know God.  That’s what is at stake.  Our commitment to being Jesus’ disciples will have eternal significance.
Posted on February 1, 2017 10:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
It is no coincidence that the word “disciple” and the word “discipline” come from the same root word.  The Latin word carries the meaning of “pupil.”  The New Testament Greek word carries the idea further to include the idea of “becoming an apprentice” or “one who adheres to the teachings of a master teacher.”  As I study what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, I see at least 10 key commitments emerging from the Scripture.  These commitments are not intended to be a legalistic way to measure what it means to be a disciple, but rather a guide to help us keep moving in the right direction as followers of Jesus.
 
1. The commitment to meet regularly with God.  I put this first because I believe it to be the most important commitment.  This is how we abide with Christ and make Christ “feel at home” in our lives.  Meeting with Christ through time in the Word and in prayer makes it possible for Him to speak clearly into our lives as we grow to greater maturity.  This commitment brings us a greater sensitivity to His Spirit’s conviction and guidance in our lives.
 
2. The commitment to learn basic teachings about God and His Word.  Disciples should know the basics of the character and nature of God.  We also need to know the basic doctrines of the Bible lest we be tossed about by every wind of doctrine.  Disciples need to know the Bible!  As we grow deeper in our understanding and application of the Word, Christ is seen more clearly in our lives.
 
3. The commitment to discover who I am “in Christ” and allow that to change my thinking and my actions.  Knowing our new identity as Christ-followers is critical to our understanding of the Christian life.  In Christ, we are redeemed, reconciled, accepted, justified, etc. people, and that changes everything.  It changes our sense of worth and allows us to have real security in our walk with God.
 
4. The commitment to a biblical family life.  So many of the New Testament writers emphasized the need for a biblical family life.  So often, people come to marriage with the mind-set of getting their needs met rather than meeting the needs of others.  As children are added to the family, God’s plan is for parents to become disciple-makers for their children.  The love and harmony of a Christian home, enabled by the filling of God’s Spirit, is a powerful testimony to the world.
 
5. The commitment to a holy lifestyle.  The chief character trait of God is holiness.  God is love, but His love is holy love.  He is patient, but His is a holy patience.  When the seraphim fly around the throne of God, they cry out “Holy, holy, holy,” not “Grace, grace, grace.”  All God’s attributes are consistent with His holiness.  The disciple’s commitment is to be holy as He is holy, becoming separated from sinful thoughts, words, motives, attitudes and actions as we grow in Christ-likeness.  Many will say, “Nobody is perfect” and “We sin every day,” but a real disciple sees that as no excuse for avoiding the commitment to grow in personal holiness.
 
Becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ is not accidental, but intentional.  Spiritual growth, like any kind of growth, is not automatic.  It requires steady effort and reliance on Christ.  It requires discipline.  He is the only One to live the Christian life without fault, and it is Christ in us who will enable us to mature in our faith as we teach others to mature in their faith.
 
David Frasure is CABA's Disciple-making Catalyst and pastors FBC So. Lebanon, Oh. 
Posted on January 15, 2017 8:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
In our first church, my wife was involved in the outreach ministry.  On occasion, she would send a hand-written letter on church stationary and a gospel tract to absentees and prospects.  One day, she got such a letter marked “return to sender.”  One of our sons went with her to the mailbox that day.  He wondered if there was any mail for him, so Terri gave him the return to sender letter.  He was old enough to read most of the words, so he sat down and started reading the Eternal Life tract.  My son then wanted to know more about becoming a Christian.  A few hours later, Isaiah called me to tell me he had received Jesus and accepted the gift of eternal life.  Today, Isaiah has a family of his own and he teaches Sunday School and plays piano in our church.
 
I for one, want my children and grandchildren to know Christ as Savior.  I do not try to coerce or manipulate them, but I have and I will share the gospel with them as God gives me the opportunity and I will teach them the Bible.  Our world is very deliberate about influencing our children at school and through the media.  Satan is very active in some of the ways our society impacts children.  Some public-school leaders desire to teach their version of sex education at younger and younger ages.  I remember when Heather has Two Mommies was released in 1989 and since then the market has been flooded with homo-sexual themed children’s literature.  In addition, many children’s books propagate a message of intolerance toward the idea that the world was created by Intelligent Design and belief in the Bible.  When a child begins to have a relationship with Christ, it becomes a shield against the anti-God, anti-Bible messages of our day. 
 
Throughout the Bible we read of people having a relationship with God early in life.  Samuel heard God speaking to him at a very young age.  Josiah became a strong spiritually-minded king at eight years old!  David and others were quite young when they encountered and served the Lord.  No doubt these children knew God and their relationship with God guided them throughout their lives.  Jesus Himself was very open towards children and accessible to them.  For us to ignore or minimize the spiritual lives of children would be foolish as well as unbiblical.
The Bible reminds us that the Holy Spirit convicts of sin, judgement and righteousness.  When the Holy Spirit begins convicting the heart of a child in such a way, God wants that child to be saved.  Who are we to argue?  That is when parents and church leaders need to be able to step in and help the child come to faith in Christ.  In Matthew 19:14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”  He reminded us that children do not need to become like adults in order to be saved, but adults do need to become like children to be saved.
 
I heard about a young couple who argued about getting their children involved in church.  The father wanted them to be exposed to the Bible and have the opportunity to trust Christ.  The mother wanted to wait until the kids were teenagers before they learned about God and “religion.”  She reasoned that they needed to be old enough to decide for themselves.  The dad dropped the subject and went next-door to borrow the neighbor’s roto-tiller.  He plowed up a 10 x 10 section of the back yard and came into the house.  The wife was thrilled that he was finally going to plant her flower garden.  She asked, “What are you going to plant?”  The husband replied, “Oh, I think I’ll just let the garden decide what it wants to grow.”  The point was made and the next Sunday the family began to attend church more faithfully.  No body wants spiritual weeds in their child’s life.