Young, Reading, & Reformed (Fred G. Zaspel)
Pardon me for a moment if I seem boastful, but I am proud of the ladies in our church who have launched a wonderful new initiative to reach the church’s children for Christ.
I have long appreciated the potential of good Christian reading – there are few other means of discipleship, when carefully focused, that are so effective. What the church offers is a message – that’s it. Just a message. A message from God about Christ that is powerful in proclamation and in reading. And our church elders wanted to promote solid, gospel-informed reading to capture the minds and hearts of our children and youth. We explained our thoughts to a few of the ladies of our church, and they took the idea and ran with it. I could not have hoped for a better result.
The “Young, Reading, and Reformed” ministry – cleverly named by the ladies who organized this effort for us, lovers of sovereign grace all – cleared our church library shelves of all but the best, making room for new YRR section, and the church gave generously to spend (initially $3,000) to stock the shelves with new materials for the children and youth.
What’s important here is that we determined not to accept any books in this program except what was really good. No fluff. Children’s books, yes, but only those whose authors know how to emphasize what is central and what is important. Thankfully, there is a growing supply of solid children’s literature becoming available today, and only the best of books (and some videos also), hand-picked and approved, count for credit in this program.
Our stated goal
“To disciple the children and youth of the church via the reading of quality Christian literature.” The books range in age-orientation from preschool through teens, and they include Christian biography, Bible story, doctrinal studies, family devotionals, the Bible itself (of course!), and the whole range that constitutes good Christian reading.
Of course built into the program are appropriate recognitions at certain levels, and our YRR team keeps the pastors apprised weekly of the children’s progress so we can lend private – and occasionally public – encouragement also.
Introducing the YRR Program
Here’s the summary the YRR team used to introduce all this to the congregation:
Young, Reading and Reformed Book Club
Goal: To disciple the children and youth of the church via the reading of quality Christian literature
Ages: Preschool through High school
Reading Material: Church library materials including books, audio books, DVD’s, and select online sermons (See link on church website.)
- Choose a book or CD/DVD from the club section of the church library.
- Take a bookmark from the bulletin board and fill it out.
- Keep track of every 5 minutes you read/watch/listen.
- When you’re finished the book, return it to the “Return Book Basket” in the library. Keep your bookmark IN the book!
- For every 15 minutes you read, you earn one point.
- At the end of each quarter (12 weeks), stars will be placed on your library card on the bulletin board.
Gold star = 60 points or more
Silver star = 30-59 points
Blue star = 1 – 29 points
- Everyone who earns a gold star in quarter will receive a small reward for their extra hard work.
- At the end of the year, anyone earning 240 points or more will receive a book and a gift card. Other participants will be recognized as well.
- Club bonus points (5) can be earned for writing a recommendation for a book you’ve read and posting it on the bulletin board. Write a few sentences on the provided form to inspire other kids to read the book! If you use a recommendation and read the book, you will also receive 5 bonus points.
Checkout Procedures: See the guidelines in the library.
Why this is important
Understand, our church is not big on activity for activity’s sake. We are by no means an overly-“programmed” church, and we don’t want to be. What thrills us about this ministry is that it is so thoroughly content-oriented in a decidedly gospel centered, robustly biblical way, aiming intentionally at leading our children, in God’s grace, to become disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, the parents in our church had these same goals already in place, and they have worked toward it on their own. This effort is designed to help further that process, and we are excited to see it in place and working. The minds and hearts of our children are being influenced by the gospel daily – what else could we want?
In all honesty, our church is full of willing and gifted workers. We mention it often in praise to the Lord that the lavishness of his provision to our church body is evident in so many ways – the many talented volunteer musicians, our many children’s workers and teachers including the amazing VBS crew (dozens of them each year) that works so well each year, our (I don’t mind saying it) superior youth staff, our deacons who work like few I’ve seen, the many service ministries, and so on. We are blessed. This YRR team is the latest of God’s gifts to our richly-blessed assembly. We are thrilled with the quality of work they have done, we are thrilled with the eager family involvement that we have seen already in this program, and we are thrilled with the prospect of reaching our children for Christ through this wonderful ministry. May God have it so!
Fred Zaspel (Ph.D., Free University of Amsterdam) is pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA, and is the executive editor of Books At a Glance. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel.