Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Piecing together the big picture of God
Children’s Ministry director Valerie Ackermann
equips parents to grow their child’s faith at home
The most important thing parents can do for their child is to pass on the greatness of who God is and what the Christian faith is about. However, parents often feel ill-equipped and unprepared to do so. As a director of children’s ministries, Valerie Ackermann has observed that most churches focus on developing their own programs but direct very little attention to helping parents talk about faith to their children at home where they spend the majority of their time. To address the missing pieces in a child’s faith development, Ackermann has written The God Puzzle: How the Bible Fits Together to Reveal God as Your Treasure (Higher Life Publishing / October 15, 2013 / ISBN: 978-1-939183-19-4 / $19.95), an easy-to use workbook that parents and children can explore together.
Some parents may believe their children are learning everything they need to know about God and faith in their Sunday school and church programs. However, children are only in a Bible-class setting an hour or two each week. A majority of a child’s life is spent at home where they have the greatest opportunity to see examples of the Christian life put into practice. In fact, the Bible tells parents of the importance of study with their children: “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NIV).
“Kids from Christian homes are scoring badly on Bible-college entrance exams because what we have been doing isn’t working,” explains Ackermann. “Not only that, but too many kids are walking away from the faith when they reach young adulthood because they can’t put the pieces they’ve been given together. They have too many disconnections and don’t see Jesus, His perfect plan and love for us at the center of every part. They also don’t see how all that really connects to every part of their life.”
The God Puzzle is composed of 36 lessons that cover the Bible from beginning to end, showing how the entire Bible fits together as one seamless story. Each lesson points to Christ and what it means to have a personal relationship with Him. Although written in simple language a child can understand, parents can benefit from the lessons as well, whether they know very little about the Bible themselves or are longtime Christians who simply need help putting together everything they need to teach their children. The full-color lessons are easy to present, structured, and ordered in a way that the lessons build on one another, yet have the depth and structure of a theology textbook.
A family can choose to do a portion of a lesson daily, to complete a whole lesson in a longer session once a week, or whatever pace fits their family best. The lessons are designed for children ages 7-12, and the entire family can participate together, as long as the child has his or her own copy of the book. Each lesson is interactive and requires personal responses from the children, including matching, fill-in-the-blank, puzzle completion and answering questions in their own words. No preparation is needed beforehand, and the only other supplies needed are a pencil and a Bible. The God Puzzle can not only be used in a family devotional setting, but as a great resource for daily use in a homeschooling setting.
Valerie Ackermann has a desire to see parents equipped to teach their children about God at home because there is simply not enough time in Sunday school alone. Seeing the need for a resource that was both theologically deep, yet written in language that speaks to a child and explains the Bible and God in a step-by-step process, she wrote The God Puzzle.
Ackermann was born and raised in a small prairie town in Saskatchewan, Canada. She graduated with a BA in Theology from Briercrest Bible College where she met her husband, Chris. After living in Saskatoon for a year, they went to work at Hume Lake Christian Camps in California. The Ackermanns later moved to Fairfield, CA where they started attending Parkway Community Church where Val would eventually join the staff as Director of Children’s Ministries. She has held that position for almost 10 years.
As the Director of Children’s Ministries, Ackermann is involved with overseeing volunteers, planning and developing programs, and facilitating the classes for Sunday school. She also teaches her own class every Sunday and loves staying in the classroom and on the front line with the kids.
The Ackermanns are parents of two active young men who their mom describes as operating at 100% boy plus some. When not working, Val loves to paint pictures and walls, drink lots of coffee, feed the backyard chickens, grow vegetables and basil everywhere she can, drive to Canada in the minivan, spend time with her husband and boys, family and friends, and be in the wide open outdoors of God’s creation.