I love music. I always have. Something inside of me swells when I hear a gorgeous song, sung by a choir, or even an intricate chord wrought with beauty. I've participated in musically based programs for nearly my whole life: children's choirs, school choirs, honors choirs in high school, all while learning instruments on my own time outside of organized programming.
Music is important to me, so obviously I hope that it will be important to my kids.
Perhaps music isn't your thing, though. But maybe art? Dancing? Cooking? Reading? There are things which we enjoy in our lives, that we want our children to learn to appreciate and be adept in, so we often go out of our way to nurture their existing skills, and to impart what wisdom we've garnered in our years of study.
Our interest in these matters compels us to actively teach our children about them. And since we desire our children to be well-rounded individuals, there are a number of other activities we want them to have exposure to; we put our kids in swimming lessons, or dance classes - we sit down with our spouses when the Community Activities books come in the mail and go over what skills we want our kids to develop, knowing that without active, intentional pursuit, many of those skills will not be grasped.
As our children enter school the curriculum states more things which society has deemed deserving of constant effort to ensure comprehension: math, science, languages, health...
There is nothing wrong with this approach. It is, in fact, wise and admirable to plan for who we want our children to become, and to set out intentionally to help them achieve that goal. We want them to be able to swim, so they go into those swimming lessons. We want them to be able to play piano, so we set aside time each week to teach them the notes. We want them to understand how the world functions so that they can find employment and eventually become self-sufficient, so we place them in school.
And above all, we should desire our children to love God, wholeheartedly, and to be equipped to serve God in whatever capacity He has called them to. But is this something we are being intentional about?
Back in October a representative from Great Commission Publishing came to City Chapel to do a training session with parents and teachers regarding the new curriculum, but the wisdom in his session reached beyond just the Sunday School setting. If we want our children to learn something, we need to be intentional about teaching it to them. Are we placing a higher priority on swimming, horseback riding and even reading than we are on our children knowing God's love and the truths in His word?
Scripture tells us, "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) It doesn't say, "hope a child comes to love God," or, "pray for the best, and stand back to see what happens." It tells us to train them, like you would an athlete. Using repetition, method, order and hard work.
Deuteronomy 6:7 says, "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." Diligently. In earnest. Intentionally. At every opportunity, but also making opportunities.
Sunday School programs work to teach our children how to understand God's word, to know foundational truths about God, His character, and His promises, and to prepare them to receive teaching in a sermon format. But this is only one hour a week. We can't hope that our children will become proficient in scripture memorization when they only focus on that in Sunday School for 10 minutes (maybe) of the one-hour, once-a-week class. If we want our children to know God, to arm themselves with the, "Sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God," (Eph. 6:17) and to build their lives upon Him, then let us intentionally help them in that cause by setting aside time, and making the effort to teach them about their Heavenly Father.
I will be working to compile a list of practical ways we can teach our children in our homes. If you have any ideas, please put them in the comment section so they can be added in the next blog post!
To God be the Glory, forever and ever, Amen!