Wednesday, June 20, 2007

On the Religious Education of Children

In keeping with the Father's Day theme, here are some thoughts about the religious education of children. This is taken from our church's Children's Ministry Handbook.


Where is it to be done?
Tradition: At the church building
Scripture: In the home and everywhere

When is it to be done?
Tradition: Once a week during the Sunday School hour
Scripture: All day every day, and at specific times of family worship

"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. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, ESV)

Who is responsible for it?
Tradition: Sunday School Teachers
Scripture: The Parents

Who has oversight?
Tradition: Sunday superintendent/teacher, pastor, elder/deacon board
Scripture: The father

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)

Who is to "blame" if the children grow up rebels?
Tradition: The Sunday school, church, pastor
Scripture: The parents

Then the Lord said to Samuel, "Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever. (1 Samuel 3:11-14, ESV)

(A quick note here: I think a case could be made that the individual himself is responsible, based on a number of verses, including Deuteronomy 24:16. There are some issues that I don't wish to pursue at this time; suffice it to say, wherever you draw the line, it isn't the church who is primarily responsible for a failure to raise children correctly--precisely the point being made here.)

What will be taught?
Tradition: Bible stories & lessons
Scripture: The whole counsel of God


Ray said...

Amen Gummby! As a former(and ongoing) Youth Pastor, I am shocked that parents will bring a child into my youth at 14 and tell me that they 'need education'.

My first response in the past has been -- well, what happened the first 14 years? Christians can be a funny lot -- they homeschool their children, and then want the church to provide their religious upbringing! (caveat -- not ALL homeschool parents are like that, but I have run into more than my share.)

Sadly, many of these parents cannot teach their children, as they have had no training from THEIR father. We are several generations deep in this!

Daniel said...

This is a very nice summary of what ought to be obvious. Thanks.