Proverbs 22:6 (NIV84) reads, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”
It seems clear to me that we are called to teach our children the things of faith. As parents, youth workers, Sunday School teachers, pastors, the church, etc; we all share in the responsibility of raising up children. In part, this is why the church exists; to continue the process of spiritual education in matters of faith and God. This, in part, is why the methodology of Sunday School was introduced; to teach the people the Word of God. Small Groups, Bible Studies, Quiet Time Devotions, Books; these are all ways to continue the teaching process. But I am becoming more and more convinced the we are missing something when it comes to spiritual development and maturity of our children.
As a youth pastor, I see the what and how our students learn when in the context of spiritual education. While we may have a wonderful Sunday school program for children, youth and adults, I sometimes wonder if we are teaching what’s really important? Are we teaching in such a way as to prepare our children, our youth to stand on their own two feet; meaning, are they able to articulate their faith, to explain the gospel message, and to verbalize the theology behind what they say they believe?
We teach the “stories” on the Bible. With cute pictures of boats and animal, we talk about the flood and how God saved Noah and his family, but we do stop and ask, “Why did God flood the earth in the first place?”
As a parent and a pastor, I want my children to know more than just the “stories” about God. I want them to know the stories of God. I want them to know and experience the, “Uh-ha” moments; those moments when we see the character of God, when we see the purpose behind the story, when we make the connection between Old Testament and New TEstament.
And I believe that we as parents still play an important role in the spiritual development of our children. Our natural response to the idea of teaching faith and theology to our children is to let the “professionals” do it. That would be the pastors, youth workers, Sunday school teachers, and bible study leaders at the church who serve in those positions. But have you ever thought about who those people are? With the exceptions of the paid pastor and youth worker, chances are those who teach are volunteers with little to no formal theological training. In many cases, these people are handed a curriculum and told to do and say whatever the book tells you to do and say. Whether this is right or wrong isn’t my issue. The point I want to make is that these people are more like you than you realize. To leave it to the “professionals” doesn’t apply here.
Parents, we have the awesome privilege and responsibility to teach our children. We are the ones tasked by God to “impress them [the things of God] on your children.” And if a volunteer Sunday school teacher can do it, so can you!
I want to challenge parents to rethink their roles as parents. To realize the opportunities we have to speak the truth about God into the lives of or children. The church is a support net. It’s here to help and encourage. It’s to stand with you as your family grows. But’s not to take the place of the parent.
I know, you’re thinking… “But how? How do I teach things like theology, matters of faith, and why we believe what we believe?” I think the best way to teach your children the things of God, is to live a life that reflects the truths of God. Tomorrow I’ll share some simple, practical ideas that you as a parent can use to help teach your children as well as some ideas on how you can beef up your own theology and spiritual maturity.
What do you think? When it comes to matters of faith and theology, where do you think the bulk of the teaching responsibilities falls on? And, do you think the church is doing a good job at preparing your children for a life outside the walls of their Sunday school classroom? Does theology even matter or is a simple faith something we should be content with?
Share your ideas, thoughts and comments below!
Thanks for reading!