This is a guest post by Joshua Earl. Joshua is the lead pastor of Higher Ground Church of God in Pineola, North Carolina, a Pentecostal church family. Joshua is the husband of Michelle and father of Kaeyln, Connor, and Malacai. You can read his blog here.
The church I am now serving is a Pentecostal congregation. We are a small, rural, Western North Carolina mountain church, averaging about 30-40 adults in attendance each Sunday morning and approximately 15-20 children, all under the age of 14. As a pastor, my number one desire is to lead God’s people, both young and old, in the truth of the Gospel. I began to preach a Gospel-centric message after personally coming to better understand and cherish God’s grace about a year ago. I started to see that the Gospel was good news not only for the lost sinner but also for the redeemed sinner. Slowly, little by little, I have reminded my church family of the life-changing wonder of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
However, because we are not (yet) a family integrated church, I was concerned that the children were not hearing the Christ-centric message that is so needful for the times we are living in. Previous curriculums we have used were good and accurately presented the stories of the Bible but were seemingly man-centered in their approach to the Scriptures. So, after having purchased a sample pack of The Gospel Project curriculum at the 2013 Gospel Coalition Conference, I was excited to introduce it to our leaders.
We began teaching the curriculum in October 2013, and the results have been amazing. We regularly hear testimonies from the teachers, the kids, and their parents about how the Gospel has come alive to them. Many of our kids (who come from church backgrounds) never even knew what the Gospel was before we introduced the curriculum. Now, children even as young as three have a firm grasp on how bad our sin is, how necessary repentance is, and how great God’s love is toward sinners. One little girl, Callie (who is three), explained to her dad that sin separates us from God and that we need a Savior to forgive us of our sins. Her sister, Bella (six years old), sat with her parents at dinner and showed them using salt and pepper shakers how sin separates us from God. Even our teachers have come to truly understand the greatness of Christ’s Gospel in a new way.
When the Holy Spirit fell on the believers on the day of Pentecost, He came to empower them to be witnesses to Christ unto the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Today, more than ever, we need the Spirit’s power to boldly proclaim Christ to a lost and broken world. We as a church, then, had better realize the power of the Gospel if we would ever hope to endure to the end and fearlessly proclaim Christ as the answer to humankind’s desperate condition. For this reason, I thank God for The Gospel Project. Because of it, both children and adults in our corner of the world are being taught and strengthened in the cross-centered, Christ-glorifying, life-changing Gospel and are better equipped to make a defense to anyone who asks us for a reason for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15).