I was asked to speak at our MOMs (Mothers of Many Seasons) group at church and this is what came out... My topic was supposed to be "age appropriate Bible teaching for children." It morphed into "Discipling your children." Sort of the same thing, isn't it?
In the book, Sacred Parenting, Gary L. Thomas states “the best reason for having children is so simple that it may not seem very profound: God commanded us to have children (Genesis 1:28). It’s his desire that we ‘be fruitful and increase in number,’ and this fruitfulness includes raising spiritually sensitive children who will serve God and work for the glory of His kingdom on earth.”
God’s first commission to man was to “be fruitful and multiply”. Jesus last commission to His followers was to “Go and make disciples”. Think about the commonality of those. Side by side, the Old Testament command of be fruitful and multiply and the New Testament command to make disciples almost have the same ring to them. Dr. Leiderback, a professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, teaches in his Ethics of Marriage and Family course, that parents have a calling to fulfill these commandments and to raise up worshippers for His Name.
How is that working for you?
Teaching the Bible to children has been the calling of my life since I was 28 years old, when on April 1 1982 – unbeknownst to me-- the Lord called me into preschool ministry. I thought I was just doing something because no one else would take on the recently vacated “nursery coordinator” position in our little church, and my best friend looked at me and said -- “I’ll do it, if you’ll do it!” So we started down an incredible path 28 years ago sort of clueless like the disciples who left everything to follow Him when Jesus said, "Follow me and I will make you to become…" Would they have done it if they fully understood the cost, or the path He called them to? They had no idea at the time, what following Jesus meant—but still began an interesting journey.
I can draw a parallel there. Especially the clueless part.
Not long after that, the Lord gave me Romans 11:29 –" the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." And in the days when I have been more than ready to pack it up and leave it behind, (and there have been many), this Truth has literally riveted me to His calling…and I cannot go. After all, what could be more important than teaching the Bible to children on their level of development? What could be more important than introducing them to their Creator and Savior?
So not long after THAT, the Lord gave me the purpose statement of preschool ministry - -Isaiah 54:13 ..."and all your children will be taught of the Lord, and great will be the peace of your children." But enough about me.
Voddie Baucham, a local pastor, revealed a startling statistic a few years ago when he stated that by the end of their freshman year in college, 77% of church kids have deserted their faith. If that is true, i submit to you that something is broken.
We are all over age- appropriate Bible teaching at church. We do a good job. But one hour a week on Sunday morning obviously just doesn’t get the job done. Church was not meant to take on the spiritual training of children, but to supplement the spiritual teaching of the home.
Because for children, the home is at the very center of biblical instruction. There is very little scriptural evidence of children being taught primarily in the tabernacle, synagogue or temple. The home was the school of faith. The churches of those times supported the work of the home, not the other way around. No amount of Christian school, Sunday School, or church influenced childcare and weekday education can replace the primary impact of the home on a child’s spiritual development.
I have begun to see that this is where the system is broken. Because many parents either do not understand their responsibility, or have given it over to the church. I, in fact, did the same thing.
One day when my girls were little, I was driving to a Bible Study at church, or maybe it was a hand bell or ensemble practice, or maybe a preschool committee meeting or a fellowship. (We were always in the car on the way to church, it seemed.) The girls were working on learning our street address at the time, so I asked, “Where do you live?” Kari, about 4 at the time, replied point blank, in her little four year old voice, “At chuch.” I laughed and tickled her tummy and called her silly, but the truth of what she just said pierced me.
Never again in all my life would I have the opportunity to disciple someone like I had the opportunity to disciple those two little lives buckled into the back seat. Never in my life would I again have the time to invest in another person like these two little ones God had put in my own backyard. Was I spending so much time away from them for MY OWN spiritual growth or connection or other events that I was squandering/neglecting the very ministry (motherhood) that the Lord had called me to? Was I depending on the teachers at church to raise them “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Was I really leaving their learning to someone else so much so that my daughter would think she lived “at chuch”? I immediately made some lifestyle changes for my family and my children.
I was an education major, and teaching was natural for me. I was always leaning towards using the child development i studied in college and thinking up developmentally appropriate activities for us to do at home. (My kids told their friends that they knew how to scrub a bathroom before they were 7, and it probably was true!) Some things required radical adjustments on our part, though.
I was influenced and intrigued greatly at that time by Anne Ortlund’s book, Children are Wet Cement – the first book I had ever come across that advocated discipling your children. And more recently by Raising Kids for True Greatness by Dr. Tim Kimmel, and Teaching Kids Authentic Worship by Kathleen Chapman.
That's all for now. But stay tuned for part 2.