Christian Education Begins At Home
Christian Education Begins At Home
Sonja Ely tells of watching her 5-year-old granddaughter, Christy, play with her dolls. At one point, she “staged” a wedding. First the little girl played the role of the bride’s mother who assigned specific duties, then suddenly became the bride with her “teddy bear” groom. She picked him up and said to the “minister” presiding over the wedding, “Now you can read us our rights”.
Without missing a beat, Christy became the Minister who said, “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say may be held against you, you have the right to have an attorney present. You may kiss the bride.”
One thing for sure: She did not learn this in Sunday school. Or at least I hope not!
God has entrusted us with the overwhelming task of teaching our children about Him and about life. What does He want us to teach them? How are we to go about it?
I call you to listen with me to God’s instructions to all of us who are parents and grandparents. Listen to what God wants to say to us concerning how He wants us to teach our children and grandchildren.
Read Deuteronomy 11:18-21
18 “So commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 20 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 so that as long as the sky remains above the earth, you and your children may flourish in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors.
There are several key observations that we need to note.
1. This is addressed to parents: not preachers.
It is God’s will that the primary Christian educators be parents.
For children who attend church regularly, only 1% of that child’s life is spent in Sunday school. We can make a big difference but we cannot be the primary educators of your children. It is not God’s plan that we should be the primary educators of your children.
2. We are to adopt God’s Word as our own value system before we teach it to our children. Verse 18: “Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine.”
3. We are to develop a lifestyle that constantly and consistently teaches God’s Word. Verse 19 “Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” In other words, in every aspect of our life we are to look for ways to teach our children God’s Word.
James Baldwin once observed “Children have never been good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
If we say, “Okay, let’s all gather around so I can teach you” and then we go about the rest of the family business as though it were a totally separate matter – totally unrelated – we have missed the message that God is seeking to communicate. We are to constantly look for ways to model, illustrate and promote God’s Word – namely the 10 Commandments and the Beatitudes.
We are to consistently treat our spouse, our parents and our children in ways that teach God’s Word.
We are to teach forgiveness, by forgiving.
We are to teach kindness by being kind.
We are to teach compassion by being compassionate.
We are to teach honesty by being honest.
We are to teach generosity by being generous.
We are to teach tenderness by being tender.
We are to teach God’s Word by illustrating it in our lives. In other words, we are to teach God’s Word by example.
If someone secretly placed a camcorder in your home, would there be enough evidence to convince a stranger that you are a Christian? Now that’s a scary thought, isn’t it? We teach, not so much by what we say we believe as by what we do.
There is an old saying that is rather trite but none the less true. We are the only Bible that most people read. It really does matter what we do and what we don’t do while we are teaching our children and grandchildren by our examples.
4. The fourth observation about this Scripture passage that needs to be noted is we are teachers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
“When we are at home…on the road … going to bed… and getting up.”
God taught the Hebrews to make religion an integral part of life. The reason for their success when they followed his instructions was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented. They use the context of daily life to teach their families about God.
The key to teaching your children to love God is stated simply and clearly in our Scripture lesson. If you want your children and grandchildren to follow God, you must make God a part of your everyday experiences. You must teach your children diligently to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.
How we behave on the way home from church is as crucial as how we act in church.
How we act on the job is just as important as how we act in Sunday
How we act in front of the TV is just as important as how we act in
front of our Bible study group.
How we act in front of the TV when someone else wants to watch a
different program – well, you get the picture.
Someone has said, “Children are natural mimics who act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners.”
If we have the responsibility of teaching our children, what are we to teach them?
I. First, we are to teach them the Word of God – the Bible.
We are now known as the age of information and instant communication. How ironic that we have also become the age of ignorance regarding God’s Word. We are one of the most illiterate generations when it comes to knowledge of God’s Word.
There is no technology or new methodology that will substitute for the basic need of teaching God’s Word to our children one on one, day by day, in every way we live. We can not delegate this to a computer or a program or a Christian school or a public school or a Sunday school or anyone else. We are to teach this and make it our highest priority.
We are to give our children a solution to their problems that cannot be gotten any other place in the world. If we are not doing that, we are failing them.
The good news is we have something to say that is worth saying. We have solutions to life’s deepest problems. In fact, so significant is the message that we have to share with our children that it is not even our word. It is God’s Word.
As the old prophet put it:
“All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers
of the field;
the grass withers, and the flowers fall,
but the Word of the Lord stands forever.” (1Peter 1:24-25)
The beautiful thing about God’s Word is that it is authoritative and dependable. On the authority of the Bible we can say with confidence, “The Lord says…”
Parents and teachers, don’t ever lower yourselves to giving your students and your children any other message no matter how popular or impressive it may be. Please do not cheat them out of the Word of the Lord.
Don’t ever cheat your children out of the greatest message ever proclaimed. I would say the same thing to you Sunday school teachers both children, teen and adult teachers. Let the foundation of your message be the Word of the Lord. Immerse yourself in His Word. Let it be the primary thing you are giving your students. They can get the other during the week. We cannot give anything else other than the Word of God.
No one knew the significance of this more than the first century Christians. They were so excited about God’s message that we are told in the book of Acts: “Day after day, in the Temple court and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.”
Perhaps you are asking, “But what should I teach them from the Bible? How in the world do I begin?” Let me suggest that you begin with the 10 Commandments, the Beatitudes of Jesus and the Lord’s Prayer. Then work your way through the 4 Gospels.
Teach these to your children over and over again. Explain them, model them, illustrate them. I can promise you that you will never exhaust their meaning and their relevance. Make them the reference point of all your actions and decisions. Go back to them over and over again.
Let’s be honest. There are many of you parents who truly want to teach your children the Word of God but you need help. You need resources and useful techniques. You need someone to guide you and resource you. Right?
We have talked a lot about this as a staff and we have come up with a plan that is rather bold and ambitious. Your children’s pastor and I shared our concern with the church board and asked for their permission to try an experiment. They have graciously agreed.
Beginning next Sunday, and on the first Sunday of each month, we will dismiss the parents and their children to go to Kid City to worship together. During that time the parents will receive some wonderful resources that they will be encouraged to use throughout the week to reinforce what they learned as a family in the special worship service.
These resources are based on the Scripture I read to you earlier from Deuteronomy 6:7. These resources are designed to help equip parents with easy to use tools to make the most of everyday moments together. They are based on the biblical model that teaches that the home should be the primary place where a child learns about God.
“Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV)
The first resource is a FamilyTimes Virtue Pack that provides activities to be used once a week during each of these four family times – MealTime, DriveTime, BedTime, and MorningTime. All of this is designed to give parents simple ways to help their kids grow in faith and character.
For instance, there is a CD that parents and kids can play while they are in the car that has great songs that teach the virtue that they are studying that month.
There is a sheet to hang on the refrigerator door reminds you of the virtue of the month plus key Scripture verses.
We wanted to “test drive” this material before we introduced it to the whole church. So we have asked 5 families to use it with their kids to see what they thought. I would like to have on of the those families share with you their experience. Tyler and Cheri Martin
- What are the ages of you kids?
- How are they responding to this material?
- What has you most excited about this?
- Both of you are school teachers. Respond to the material from the perspective of a professional educator.
Not only are we to teach our children the Bible but we are to:
II. Teach them Christ.
Martin Luther once described the Bible as “The swaddling clothes and the crib in which Christ lies.”
That is his unusual way of saying that whenever we discover Christ, we have indeed discovered God’s true Word.
As the apostle John so beautifully put it: “The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. As Jesus put it, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
No wonder we are to teach Christ. Whenever we leave Christ out, we have nothing left but swaddling clothes and an empty cradle, but when we have Christ, we have God Himself.
We live in a world that desperately needs to hear that message. Ours is a generation of people who are isolated and alienated from God and from each other and even from ourselves. We are a generation of lonely people. That is the issue of our day.
We hold the answer to that issue. His name is Jesus Christ. Jesus said it best Himself: “I am the way.” He did not say “I’ll lead you to the way or I’ am one of the ways.” But rather He said, “I am the way.”
It is our privilege to teach this glorious truth to our children. We have the honor of sharing with them that through repentance, they can find “The way.” Even in a world of chaos and confusion.
Parents, we have your children only a few minutes each week. You have them several hours each day. I would urge you to hear God’s Word and accept your responsibility as the primary Christian educator of your children. It is our job to support you and equip you and encourage you in that role. We are committed to doing that.
History has shown us that it is easiest to lead a child from 5 to 10 years of age to a definite acceptance of Christ. That is the age span where they are most receptive. I cannot imagine a parent who calls themselves a Christian not making it the highest of priorities to have their child in Sunday school and any other children’s ministry that the church offers that will help them teach their child about Christ.
Why do I make such a statement? The overwhelming majority of people who are Christians today are converted before they were the age 21. I’d like to prove it to you. (Take a survey of the crowd.)
You have heard it before, but please hear it again. Parents, your children will be grown and gone before you know it. You need to make your children and their spiritual welfare your primary concern now.
I am reminded of a group of Kindergarten children who visited the local Police station and viewed the pictures of the 10 most wanted men. One child pointed to a picture and asked if it really was a photograph of the wanted person. The policeman replied that it was the photograph of the wanted person. The youngster inquired, “Well, why didn’t you just keep him when you took his picture?”
Parents, why don’t you just take advantage of the time you have with your son or daughter now? Don’t let them get away? Now is the day of your child’s salvation. Now is the day of your opportunity.
Perhaps there is a parent here who says, “Pastor, I don’t know Jesus myself. How can I introduce my children to Him if I don’t know Him?”
I would be honored to meet with you personally and to personally lead you in a prayer of repentance and help you invite Jesus Christ into your life. And then you could do the same thing with your own children. In your own way, at your convenience, would you contact me and let me enjoy this privilege with you?
Listen again to what God is calling us to do. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 “Commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these words of mine. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.”
Listen to what God promises if we take these instructions seriously.
26 “Look, today I am giving you the choice between a blessing and a curse! 27 You will be blessed if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today. 28 But you will be cursed if you reject the commands of the Lord your God and turn away from him and worship gods you have not known before.
The Lord’s Supper is the most vivid example of God’s blessing. What an example He is for all families. He could have simple written us off and cursed us when we sinned against Him. Instead he made a deliberate choice to extend grace to us and to bless us when we in effect, cursed him.
As you come to receive the His blessing, come with a humble heart and a commitment to follow His example as you deal with your family.
Instructions regarding Intinction and open communion.
Have them raise hand if unable to come forward.
Dianne Mann will sing.