LESSON TEXT: Matthew 19:14-15; Proverbs 8:17; Acts 2:39; John 21:15; II Timothy 3:15.
“And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 31:13).
LESSON AIM: To teach the value of winning children to the Lord.
Teaching Material: Magni-Vu Pictures Z, AA and BB.
Without question, yellow perch are one of the most popular and important food fishes of North America. They are taken in staggering numbers by anglers and commercial fishermen alike. This colorful little fish takes a baited hook eagerly and provides a table delicacy no other species can hardly surpass.
Because they abound in such vast numbers, there are no limits placed on the amount you can catch. The yellow perch lives in a wide variety of habitats and are widely distributed over the continent.
EASY TO CATCH
No experience is necessary to catch yellow perch. Even a child can fill a stringer with these tasty little fish. They offer little or no
resistance to the fisherman and anxiously nibble on the bait offered them. You never have to worry about trying to outsmart a perch. They are ready and willing to be caught.
This fish gives enjoyment to people of all ages. This is what you might call a “family fish,” for even the little tots will be breathless with excitement as they pull in their big eight-ounce catch.
Because of the comparative ease in catching perch, the expert angler scoffs at catching these little fellows. They go for the fish that give a run for their money.
The most inexpensive fishing gear imaginable is quite capable or catching scores of yellow perch. In fact, you wouldn’t even have to invest in a cane pole. They could be caught with a long stick and a string with a hook tied on the end. The bait is the least expensive of all bait. Worms or small minnows are all you will need. Forget the fancy lures while fishing for perch. In fact, you can fish right off the bank. There is little cost involved in a platter of fried perch cooked over a camp fire on the banks of a pond.
(Place Magni-Vu Picture Z on board).
In most regions yellow perch are enormously abundant. Without a continued harvest, they will soon be overpopulated. When few perch are harvested, most of the fish will die before they reach seven or eight inches because of a lack of food. When there are too many fish and not enough food, there is also a stunted population.
The yellow perch provides food for larger sport fishes, such as walleye, northern pike, muskellunge and lake trout. The perch-trout relationship is an especially important one in many waters for the trout eat the perch, which keeps them from becoming overabundant. Meanwhile, the trout become plentiful because of the abundance of perch.
Nature has worked out a cycle that works well when in proper balance. Commercial fertilizers aid the growth of plankton, which is microscopic plant and animal life. Plankton serves as food for crustaceans, such as crawfish and other small fish and minnows. Perch eat the crustaceans and in turn are eaten by larger fish such as walleye, northern pike and lake trout. Fishermen complete the cycle by catching the larger fish.
If there were no perch and other small fishes, there would be no food for the big fish to eat. For these reasons, the yellow perch is one of America ‘s most important sport fishes.
(Place Magni-Vu Picture AA on board).
Without question, a child is one of the most important souls we could ever catch. They can be brought into our churches in staggering numbers, if we are not too proud to go after them. Over half the population of the world is now under the age of 21. This means that by far the greater majority of the inhabitants of the world will soon be in the age bracket of about 5 to 14, which is just the right age.
If you have ever fished for children, you know that they are the easiest to bring to church between 5 and 14. Some parents will allow their children to go with you to Sunday School before the age of 5, however, they generally keep them at home unless there are older brothers and sisters going. After the age of 14, it is very difficult to attract teenagers to the church. They have already begun to go in the ways of the world and it is much harder to entice them to come.
When Jesus aid, “….Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14), He speaks as though the infants were ready and eager to come to Him-if they were not prevented.
Again we are reminded, “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). No age, no matter how young and tender, is too early to seek after the Lord. The entire foundation of our doctrinal truths can be taught in the Nursery class at the age of two.
There are simply no limits on the amount of children that can be brought to the House of God. They are eagerly waiting to be asked. If you want to find a fish that is delicious to the taste, find some children. If you want to experience a spine-tingling adventure, load your car with youngsters and bring them to the House of God. After church is over, listen to their excitement as they thank you for letting them come to church!
Recently a bus driver from a neighboring church called to find some new ideas about loading his vehicle with new children to bring to Sunday School. It was so refreshing to hear this man bubbling over with excitement as he talked on the telephone. He had found his place in the church. Without a doubt, no officer or teacher in his church had a greater burden for the work of God than he did. And no one was reaping a greater reward then he was!
SIMPLE TO FIND
We had an entire lesson on how to find fish. It is difficult to find the kind of fish the expert soul-winners go after-but not the little fish! They can be found on practically every street in your city.
Small fish are so easy to win to the Lord, even our children can bring them in. You won’t see an 8 or 10 year old boy out fishing for bass or marlin. They don’t have the strength or wit to tackle them. But just look around the banks of a lake or pond and you will see lots of kids fishing-and bringing them in, too!
The Lord has made a way that every one of us can be soulwinners, from the least to the greatest. Even our Primary and Junior age boys and girls can fish for souls and catch lots of them, if they go after little fish.
On the day of Pentecost when that heaven-inspired sermon was preached, the Apostle Peter was careful to remember the children. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children,….” (Acts 2:39). Provisions have always been made for the youngsters to be a part of God’s Kingdom. Jesus didn’t forget them and told Simon Peter to “….feed my lambs” (John 21:15).
The wonderful part about fishing for children is the cost. It would be a rare thing to have an all-night prayer meeting or go on a three-day fast to see a child saved. Their hearts are so tender and so quick to believe the Word of God, they can be prayed through by the scores. You won’t see any “chronic” seekers among the children, either. If you tell them to say “Jesus” and believe that He will fill you with the Holy Ghost, you can expect them to quickly have stammering lips and then begin speaking with other tongues.
And it costs so little to entice them to come to church. We spend thousands of dollars to attract the big fish. If you want to catch the lunkers, you have to build a beautiful structure, buy cushioned pews, carpet, an expensive organ and piano, air conditioning and central heat and all kinds of high-priced lures. But not so for kids! They would be just as happy coming to church under a tent (and maybe more so) as the gorgeous sanctuaries we gladly become indebted for that we may reach their parents.
Bass fishermen will spend hundreds of dollars on lures for their tacklebox without giving it a second thought. But do you know what you catch perch with? Worms! The cheapest bait available. We will do all sorts of kind, (expensive) deeds to win adults to the Lord. If a fishing trip or a meal or buying groceries or clothes for someone will help win them to the Lord, we gladly would spend $15 or $20 or more to catch just one soul. Yet the promise of a nickel candy bar will bring in children by the droves!
Some adults have the mistaken idea that we are “bribing” children to come to church when we advertise a “free money hunt” or a “flying saucer” or “lucky bucks.” This is not a bribe any more than the extremes we will go to attract a man or woman to the Lord. And it is so much cheaper!
During the past few years we have seen literally thousands of boys and girls attracted to the church by means of simple Sunday School promotions. Only the Lord knows how many of them are still attending and are now filled with the Holy Ghost. Those who have dropped out will carry an indelible impression upon their hearts the rest of their lives about that Sunday they went to a “free money hunt” and heard a teacher tell the most wonderful story about a man called Jesus and something you could receive in your heart called the Holy Ghost.
Perhaps their parents prevented them from returning. Or maybe the saints failed to estimate the value of their soul and never tried to bring them back again. But who knows? As they grow older, someday they may look up a church that preaches the same thing “that” church told about. And then, maybe the expert soul-winners will be interested in spending lots of money, time and effort to bring them into the church because they look more valuable when they have a good job and can offer financial support. But wouldn’t it have been better to have kept them in the church all those years and brought them up in the ways of truth?
CHILDREN ARE BAIT
(Place Magni-Vu Picture BB on board.)
It is true that we can become “over-populated” with children in our Sunday Schools. It would not be logical to throw the cycle off balance by bringing in more than we could adequately handle. Our purpose is defeated when we try to operate a church strictly with boys and girls. When we do so, there are too many little fish and not enough food to feed them. This will produce a stunted population and many of the fish will die.
There is a cycle in our churches the same as there are among fish. Sunday School teachers play an important role in this fish cultivation. They aid the spiritual growth of infants in the Nursery Department. As our own children grow, they complete the cycle by reaching adulthood. As the neighborhood children we bring in grow from the Beginner, Primary and Junior Departments, they attract older brothers and sisters in the Youth Department and parents in the Adult class. The pastor, evangelists and personal workers catch the parents and the process begins again with the new adults producing more little ones or bringing in their friends and relatives. The Nursery and Cradle Roll teachers play an important role in furnishing bait for the Adult class, since toddlers cannot come by themselves. They must be brought by the parents. When we learn to cultivate our Sunday Schools by encouraging small fish to be used as bait for larger fish, we will never be overstocked on any one age group.
The most successful method of reaching into a home is to first parent’s heart. Every advertising agency in the country knows this and is continually developing their strategy. Why do all the all cereal manufacturers appeal to the youngsters? Because they know the mothers and dads can’t resist their pleas for buying a certain brand that has a model car or yoyo inside the box.
If the little fish never did our churches any more good than growing up in the ways of the Lord and being saved themselves, it would be well worth the effort. But that is only half the story. The most successful method you will ever find for reaching into a home to catch the large fish is to work through the small ones. Use the kids as bait. Mothers and fathers will think you are the grandest person in the world-because their kids love you.
The best way to use your little fish as bait is to get the kids helping you work on their parents. They can be given prizes to see who can bring the most adults. We have seen parents receive the Holy Ghost as the result of a little “give-away” contest among the Juniors called the Lucky Bucks program. Call it bribery or anything you wish, but the end result was souls born into the Kingdom of God!
When you casually drop by a home on Saturday evening to “see if the kids are coming to Sunday School with me tomorrow,” you will have one of the best opportunities in the world to make friends with their parents. In fact, you needn’t mention anything about the adults coming for a few weeks. Just show a sincere interest in their children. Should a tragedy occur in that home or a problem arise requiring divine assistance, guess which church they will run to for help-YOURS!
If you have several junior age or teenagers coming on your bus routes, go by on Sunday night and ask permission for them to go to church with you. One church in Oklahoma has had tremendous results doing this. The Youth teacher has taken a personal interest in her students and many of them are now living for God, even though their parents don’t attend.
THE VALUE OF LITTLE FISH
The majority of leaders in the early Church were taught the ways of God from a child. The Apostle Paul reminded Timothy, “….that from a child thou has known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15). No doubt Paul himself knew the Scriptures from a child. It is likely that many of Jesus’ disciples had been taught the Word of God in their childhood. David was chosen by God to be king of Israel when only a lad.
However, everyone has not had this privilege. What about the “children, which have not known any thing?” (Deuteronomy 31:13). Shall they be given an opportunity to hear so that they may learn to fear the Lord our God? Who knows what precious jewels God might have His hand upon that are now ragged kids running the streets.
We do have some outstanding ministers of the Gospel who were not fed the Word in their childhood; but they are few and far between. They will quickly admit what a great disadvantage it is to come to God in the adult years with no knowledge of the Bible. The way will be much harder because they will have to start from the very beginning. It would be similar to an adult having to learn his ABC’s.
The flaming evangels of tomorrow could be sleeping in cribs right now. Or they could be playing hop-skotch beside the crowded streets on Sunday mornings….or they could be living next door to you!
This is the time to encourage every student to make a sincere effort to reach out for children. This endeavor could be aided by a promotion being launched for your whole Sunday School. If you would like more information about how to win children, send for the “Attendance Builder” from Search for Truth. It includes two filmstrips and a record with complete details.
Ask for a show of hands to see how many of your students have gone to church from childhood. If time permits, give them an opportunity to express their feelings about winning little children.
(The above material appeared in Fearless Fishermen, Search for Truth Publications, Houston, TX.)
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