The Children Desiring God conference is right around the corner. I hope you can join John Piper and me in Minneapolis on March 10-12 to discuss a cross-shaped approach to ministering to children. This year’s conference theme is Holding Fast to the Word of Truth and focuses on how the Christ-exalting authority of Scripture should shape our parenting and children’s ministries. Here’s what I’ll be talking about there, if the Lord wills.
In the plenary address, I’ll talk about how the authority of Scripture in central in shaping a distinctively Christian vision of ministry to kids. We’ll look at the role of the imagination and story in setting the foundation for our children seeing the world. And we’ll talk about what it means to take seriously the truth that we’re raising up the next generation in a demon-haunted cosmos. What then does spiritual warfare have to do with Sunday school?
Then, in the two breakout sessions I hope to address two thorny problems: gender and discipline. In the gender breakout, we will examine particular aspects of confusion addressed by Scripture as specifically faced by boys (pugilism or passivity) or toward girls (aggression or sexual objectification). The discussion will seek to equip parents to recognize problem areas, to encourage patterns of growth, and to break free from cultural stereotypes of masculinity and femininity, which in the end subvert a Christian concept of the glories of manhood and womanhood.
In the discipline breakout session, I’ll talk about how church leaders can train parents to discipline with the end in view (and by “end” I mean the “end” of the world, not the rear end of children). When we think of Christian eschatology, we tend to think first of prophecy charts or apocalyptic novels, but nothing is more eschatological than parenting.
This breakout session will discuss ways discipline communicates a decidedly counter-Christian vision of the end of all things. We will be reminded of the importance of calling parents away from mere behavior modification and toward a discipline that images the Fatherhood of God. In discussing ways to crucify our own anger, wrath, and passivity, the session will show how to communicate discipline as gospel announcement by portraying God as both just and justifier. We learn ways to cultivate a healthy love of hierarchy, authority, order, and the rhythm of cause and effect while also calling forth a love of grace, mercy, and belonging.