8Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
9for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9
The church must not replace the privilege of the Christian parent to be the primary voice of the gospel to their children. If this happens, as it so often does, it teaches the child to compartmentalize their faith, to be Chrisian at church but something different at home or at school or in the ballgame. While this would never be a Christian parents desire, the message rings loud and clear to their child.
This is not to discount the importance of the pastor to students of all ages. He is vital to the kingdom and is set apart by God to make the gospel known to our kids. But never is it God’s intention that he would become the spiritual, surrogate parent for the children of the church. Instead of our children hearing the gospel only in church, pastors should be merely reinforcing a message already preached at home.
Here are a few things to consider in raising our children in the truth of the gospel:
1) Our children need to hear us pray.
Many of us pray with our children before a meal. This might be the only time our children here us prayer, a quick word asking God to bless the food. Often we have our kids pray at this time. We love to hear them pray. If this is the case they may never hear us pray. They must go to church to hear an adult pray. How much do our children need to hear us speak to the Father? How will they see God as someone worth knowing outside of the church walls if that is the only time they hear anyone talk to Him?
2) Let the word come alive in your home.
The Bible can’t be a book that is only opened in the church. Take it in the home. Let your kids see the word is important enough to be opened at home. Read it with them. Let them read it to you. Be creative. We used the Action Bible with our kids. They really like it and learn the stories of the Bible. If your children only hear their pastor open the word and delight in it, then it becomes a book for the church and not for their life. Teach them that the word is life. It is what guides us. It is worthy of our time and attention in the home.
3) Don’t let anything else take precedent over following God in your family
Compromise is the word of our day. Push the moral boundaries; do what feels good; holy living is for the radical. Parents put sports, school, and other activities above church. And let’s be honest here, above God. Christianity is good for our kids when it’s convenient. Is that what we want to teach them? No wonder so many are walking away from the church and God when they leave the home as a young adult. There is nothing of substance to hold on to. Parents we are preaching a message to our kids everyday. Question is what is that message? What are we telling them should be priority?
4) Take time to ask your kids what they are learning in church.
Reinforcing what their pastor is teaching them will go a long away in their Christian development. Ask them questions about the lesson. Offer insight. Encourage them. We challenge our children to answer questions in their classes. To ask the teachers questions. We help them engage by talking of these things at home. We don’t want them to just punch a clock for their Sunday obligation. We want Sunday to be a part of their ongoing fellowship with God. It always starts at home.
5) Don’t teach your kids that living for themselves is their greatest calling.
Pastors will preach the gospel. They will teach children to deny themselves, live for others in the name of Christ. They will teach them to be like Jesus. That serving is real success. Parents please don’t teach another gospel to your kids. Don’t make it all about good grades, talent, and popularity. Don’t teach them a way contrary to what Jesus would have them know. If you do then you tell your children that church may be ok to attend but the message is not worth listening too. If you teach a false gospel of success and money and fame, then don’t be surprised when your kids follow it to their own demise.
A godly mother and father are more to a child than any gifted minister, with all resources and knowledge can ever bring. It is not too late to begin to teach your children that the most important thing in their lives is knowing Jesus. Don’t let them find Him in spite of you.