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Year 3-6: Belonging to God's Family

Year 3-6 Introduction

At this age belonging is of paramount importance, which means faith development is by association with family, friends, church, school or teachers (“I am what I belong to”).  Read More

Belonging to God and His people (friendship focus)

Jesus, our best friend

We can have a loving relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Christianity is not simply or primarily a life-style, or a set of beliefs and it is certainly is not a set of rules to follow. Though it has elements of all these, Christianity is Jesus, knowing him, walking in by faith in him, living with and in him. Everything else flows from this relationship and only has value because of Jesus. In John 17, on the night Jesus was arrested, he prayed for his disciples and for all those who would believe through them. As part of this prayer he set out the oneness which is the goal of God’s plan of redemption. In the beginning we were created to be in fellowship with God, and each other, and in Jesus that fellowship is restored. The role of the Holy Spirit is central here. On this same night Jesus said that it was good that he was going away because then the Holy Spirit would come and would be in them. It is through the Holy Spirit indwelling Christians that the goal of this fellowship is achieved with the Father and the Son.

Bible Friendships

Enjoying one of God’s greatest gifts - Fellowship with God and with others. 
Friendship lies at the heart of God’s purpose for his creation. In Genesis 1-3 we were created to have fellowship with God and with each other. In Isaiah 41:8 God gives Abraham the very highest compliment possible when he says that Abraham was his friend. In a similar way, Jesus in John 15:15 calls his disciples his friends, and with the coming of the Holy Spirit intends the same for all of us. Further, God’s plan was that we would be one as the Father and Jesus were one. Students learn in many ways, but by looking at examples of friendships in the Bible they can see in action how God intends us to live and how things can also go wrong.

Qualities of true friendship

God has called us to be one as the Father and the Son are one, John 13:34,35 and 17:20,21. These relationships correspond to the second of the great commandments and are perhaps the greatest testimony to the truth of the Gospel.
In Isaiah 41:8 God gives Abraham the very highest compliment possible when he says that Abraham was his friend. In a similar way, Jesus in John 15:15 calls his disciples his friends, and with the coming of the Holy Spirit intends the same for all of us. Further, God’s plan was that we would be one as the Father and Jesus were one. Students learn in many ways, one way is by looking at the direct instruction given in the Bible. Two key areas are the Book of Proverbs which has a great deal to say about our relationships, and the letters of Paul in the New Testament which spend a lot of time dealing with relationship issues in the early Church.

In depth study of a Biblical character

In depth character study of a Biblical character. (E.g. David, Joseph or Moses)
Jesus is our model of what it means to be a human being living in full relationship with God. In Hebrews 4:14-16 it says that Jesus was tempted just as we are tempted, yet without sin and so he is able to sympathize with us. In addition to Jesus, though, God has given us the stories of very many who, though they sinned, are examples of those who trusted and obeyed God There are also those who failed to trust and so lost what God wanted to do. These all are given for our instruction, Romans 15:4, so might have hope and know how we should live. In them we are able to see our own battles, victories and defeat and learn from their example how to live as God intended.

 

Belonging to God’s world

Being a light in the World: Fitting in or Standing Out?

Being a light in the World: Fitting in or Standing Out?
God has called us to be his people in the world.
In Matthew 5:13-16 Jesus specifies our role in the world in terms of salt and light. We were created to be like him, Genesis 1:27, and as his people in the middle of a world which has turned away from him, we are called to represent him in such a way that through us the world will both hear his words and see his reality in our lives. In the Bible we have many tremendous examples of those who, against great opposition, fulfilled this calling. For example, Elijah stands out as one who showed what it means to truly follow and trust God because in his time he stood alone it seems against the King and the whole nation as he called them to turn back to God. This calling now belongs to every Christian, no matter how old or in what situation they find themselves.   

Warriors & Wars

The fundamentals of our spiritual warfare in Christ against the devil, Ephesians 6:10-20, as illustrated by the great heroes of faith in the Old Testament
In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul describes our walk with Christ in terms of a spiritual war which we have to fight. We have an enemy and we are given weapons which we must learn to use, which themselves are ways in which Christ himself meets our needs. This warfare is a not a literal one, but against the spiritual powers of evil. In the Old Testament this spiritual warfare is no less real, but it is acted out in the context of literal battles. In these battles, we are presented with a great array of heroes of faith who illustrate the path of faith and obedience we are all called to walk down. They are models for us to follow, and the mistakes they made are also there for us to learn from and avoid. Further, in these enemies that attacked God’s people we see the devil and his attack on Christians. We fight a spiritual war, but it is a war nevertheless.

Loving my neighbour: Compassion for others less privileged

Expressing our faith in and our love for God by loving others, in particular those who are less privileged.
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments, from which all the others came, were to love God with all our being and to love others as we loved ourselves. To be a disciple of Jesus is to love others as an expression of our love for God. We cannot claim to love God if we do not love others. Loving others has a range of dimensions that correspond to our relationships. The Old Testament focuses very much on the home and larger social issues like the mistreatment of the poor and so on. The New Testament focuses more on our personal relationships. God wants us to express love to our neighbours in all these dimensions, from how we treat our parents, through to how we treat refugees, through to the question of war.

How to live in God’s world: The fruits of the spirit

Through the Holy Spirit God’s character is created in us.
In the beginning God created us to be like him, Gn 1:26, 27, and in Jesus we are again created new in the image of God, Col 3:10. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to create this character in us, 2 Corinthians 3:12-18. Hence these character traits are the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:16-25, and they are different aspects of God’s character being created in us by the Spirit which is a fulfilment of God’s plan in the beginning that we would be like him. To see these in action Jesus is our prime example. Students at this age are still focused largely on their immediate relationships, and so how the fruit of the Spirit is to be expressed in our lives should start there and work outward to give them a wider perspective on life.

 

Belonging to God’s family

What do Christians believe?

What is the overarching story line of the Bible?
The Bible is made up of 66 books written over a period of some 1500 years by over 40 different authors and contains within it a wide range of genres. Nevertheless there is a central theme that unites all these books, which gives direction and context to the Bible as a whole and, since it is God’s revelation of himself, gives direction and context for all of life. Understanding this overarching narrative is essential to understanding the Bible and to understanding life.

What is it like to be a Christian?

What is the Church and what is its purpose in the world? What does the Church look like?
From the beginning God did not intend for us to live as individuals, but as those who are in fellowship with others. So, he created us in his image so that we might know him, he established marriage and hence families as the foundation of society and he called out a people for himself, Israel in the OT, and the Church in the NT, as those who together would worship and love the Lord. To be a Christian then is to live in fellowship with God and with fellow believers, so beginning to fulfill the prayer of Jesus in John 17 that we would be one and the Father and Son are one, and fulfilling the command that we love each other as Jesus loved us, John 15:12.

The family book – the Bible

What is the Bible? How did it become what we see today? How do we know it is true? How do we understand it?
Between ourselves and God there is an infinite gap. He is not like us. He is beyond us and left to ourselves we have no means of reaching him. If we are to know God then he must reveal himself and this is what the Bible is, the record of that revelation by God through history, and pre-eminently through his Son Jesus Christ.

History of Christianity

Introduction to the idea of the History of Christianity 
Jesus commanded his disciples, and through them us, to make disciples of all the nations. The history of the Christianity is the history of the spread of this work across the entire planet. Acts 1 presents this history as the continuation of all that Jesus began to do and teach, through the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church. The Church history is very complicated and is intertwined with the history of the world over the past 2 000 years. At this age the focus should be on key groups and key people who made significant contributions in order to give a flavor to the kind of things God has been doing.

Belonging to God and His people (Heroes focus)

Biblical heroes

A study of those in the Bible who are set as examples for us to follow.
Students learn in many ways, and so God in the Bible has spoken to us in many ways. One particularly powerful way is through the life stories of key people in the Bible. In both their successes and failures we see ourselves and learn how we too might walk the walk of faith.

Christian Heroes through the Ages

A study of male and female Christian heroes, such as William Wilberforce, David Livingston, Eric Liddle, John Flynn, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu, Bethany Hamilton, Bear Grylls, Bono, etc.
In the same way that the Bible is full of people from whose lives we can learn to walk in faith, so Church history is full of many great people who have lived in faith and left behind them a great legacy for the Church. In them we see ourselves and see how we too might walk with God. The focus here is on historical heroes of faith.

Modern day Heroes, Anti-Heroes and simply Famous

What makes someone a hero? Are they perfect in every way, like Superman? Or, are they flawed like the rest of us? And what about the anti-hero, those who have deep flaws and yet at times display great courage and make a stand for what is right? Where do we see these people around us, and what can we learn from them? And, what about those who are famous and lost of people follow them but are not heroes at all?

Who do I choose to belong to/associate with?

We were not created to be alone. We were created in the image of God so we would have fellowship with him, the God ordained marriage and with it families, and then the Church. God wants us to be one even as he is one, John 17:20,21. Relationships is central to how God created us, but the not all relationships are good. So, the question is, who will choose to belong to/associate with?