author of The God Puzzle
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.
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.
Q: Whom was The God Puzzle created for?
The God Puzzle was designed to equip any parent, regardless of background, to teach their children about God and the Christian faith in a way that combines deeply Biblical and ordered lessons with complete ease of use on behalf of the parents. It is a resource to bring quality Bible learning into ANY parents’ hands, even if they know nothing about the Bible or Christianity. In fact, a parent who knows very little can learn right along with their child. It also makes sure the longtime Christian parents actually teach what their children need to know to understand their faith.
It is my heart is to reach the Christian parents who are not satisfied with what they are teaching their kids at home or who bounce around from one devotional to the next, struggling with knowing everything their kids are supposed to understand and/or how to teach it. I hope to connect with both the new believers and the ones who’ve grown up in the church their whole life who want their kids to know God through Jesus Christ and the important aspects of the Christian faith.
Q: Why do parents need a Bible study program they can use within the home?
As a full-time children’s ministry director, I feel the church has invested too much into programs within the church doors and not enough into resources parents can use at home where most faith learning and observation takes place. Somehow throughout the past 200 years, faith-learning has been taken over almost entirely by church programs, leaving most parents feeling inadequate or without resources to teach their children. Well-meaning parents think their children are getting all the Bible education they need at Sunday school, and the truth is only about 10 percent of faith-learning happens in church programs.
While equipping their own programs, the church has made mostly weak devotionals available for parents to use within the home where kids spend most of their time. On the other hand, few parents have the time, knowledge or resources to use some of the good-quality materials available out there that are mostly utilized by homeschooling families. I find parents are hungry for something they will actually use and is easy, yet affordable.
Kids from Christian homes are scoring badly on Bible-college entrance exams because what we have been doing isn’t working. Not only that, but too many kids are walking away from the faith when they reach young adulthood.
Q: What encouragement do you give parents who are intimidated about teaching their kids about faith?
I see too many parents in the church frustrated at their time with their kids teaching them about God. It shouldn’t be that way. Teaching about God is not only for parents who are gifted teachers, or homeschoolers, or pastors’ kids — it is for EVERY parent even if he or she is very new to the faith. It is our job as a church to equip these parents with a book that is deep, yet simple, affordable and engaging, and requires no prep or background in the faith to get through. That is what I set out to do with The God Puzzle.
Q: How is The God Puzzle structured to be used?
Parents can work through The God Puzzle with their kids at whatever pace works for them. It’s something easy enough for a child, yet deep and structured as a theology textbook is. Faith should be able to be explained in terms a child can understand, and that’s what I have set out to do with this book. The workbook is interactive, and each lesson requires a personal response to the truths presented. No preparation is required, and only a Bible and pencil are needed.
About the author:
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 is the Director of Children’s Ministries at Parkway Community Church where she 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.