The other day in conversation the name “Moses” came up. I asked Matthew (my 5 year old) if he knew who Moses was and unfortunately, rather than sharing a Bible story with me, he shook his head no. He honestly had no reference where he had heard the name before or who Moses was. Now, I could start pointing fingers and tell you it surely is not our fault as we have spoken of the things of God with him from early on, that we have taken him to church on a consistent basis and we pray all throughout the day. I could blame myself, surely it is not the churches sole responsibility to create Biblical literate children, this knowledge must also come from the home. While all of the above is true playing the shame/blame game is not going to solve anything, other than make the enemy happy that we are pointing fingers rather than solving the problem.
It is of note that children, as young as 3 and 4, in the Jewish culture start to learn the Torah (first 5 books of the Bible) where many Christian teenagers struggle to recite John 3:16 correctly. We have Sunday schools full of flannel board lessons and fun games, we send children home with a color page but are we paying attention to what they are actually taking in? Are we cognizant of the lessons our own children are learning through their time in our home or are we only hoping and praying that by the time they reach 18 we will see a harvest of the work we did in pouring Jesus into their hearts?
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
This section of Scripture shows us as believers how we are to go about leading our children in the Way. God was very clear with how we are to go about teaching our children about Him and His nature. It’s not enough to attend church on Sunday, say a few short prayers throughout the week and hope that a child builds a strong relationship with the Lord. The very principles our faith stands on must be taught from an early age in a way that is loving and Christ like. Surely not in a way that turns children away being steeped in legalism – love and relationship with Christ must be at the center of our homes.
I want my children and your children to know the name of Jesus and mommas … they’re not going to learn it out in the world today. In fact not only will they not hear the name of God used respectfully, they will hear the opposite. They will quickly be told Christian ideals are old fashioned at best and that Christians have no place in the advancing world. It is our job to hold the line, to teach our littles (and bigs!) of His Holy name and the wonders He has accomplished down through the ages.
Psalm 96:3 Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.
God gave us our own individual “puzzle” (as Sally Clarkson says) we each have a unique family and children with varying personalities and abilities, no one has the exact same family structure. So then, you may ask yourself how we are to go about raising up a generation of kids that love the Lord and have more than a Sunday relationship with Him?
It has to start with our own personal relationship with the Lord. We simply cannot give our children what we do not have. If we have a strong relationship with God that will be modeled to our children and hopefully (this of course is not a guarantee) our children will want to know the very Jesus we know and love. We must as the section of Scripture in Deuteronomy says, teach our children as we go about our daily living.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.
This can (and will) look a thousand different ways. The following are just a few examples of how we have done it in our home with preschoolers:
* Point out things in nature (such as the sunset or stars) and talk to your children about a God who paints the sky for us each night.
* Pray with your children when an emergency vehicles passes, when you encounter a grumpy cashier, when mommy is not patient, when a family member or loved one is sick … pray at all times without ceasing.
* Sponsor a child in a foreign country, volunteer at a local soup kitchen, make cookies to bless a friend who is walking through a difficult time – show your children that you love and bless others because of the love that God has given you.
* Listen to worship music. Children pick up on music before they do conversational speech. God wants our babies singing His praises!
Psalm 8:2 You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength, silencing your enemies and all who oppose you.
Of course, these are just a few ideas and are very simple as I have younger kids. You will find what works in your family. If you do have older kids I think it is very important to start memorizing scripture together. God tells us to hide His word in our hearts, and there may come a time where that is the only Bible we have.
Attend church as a family (regardless if right now that means virtually) don’t allow other things to be scheduled during church time. Teach your children the importance of the sabbath – even if you are not following it to the full extent rest and gathering with your church family will go a long ways.
It is my prayer that this post was encouraging to you, and that you can see that even as someone who works in ministry I need to do a better job of working with my children when it comes to teaching the Bible. It’s a journey, it wont happen overnight but I can promise you it’s eternally important! I want to one day walk the streets of gold with you and your children!
Soli deo gloria.