Children sat in class are requested to accept that there is no difference between male and female, that gender is subjective and self-determined. In church, they learn that God made mankind male and female. Constantly pressured to compromise or fear being shunned, our children are placed on the cutting edge of modern dilemmas in this world. Sectors of society are trying to redefine tolerance – no longer do they want it to mean that I can disagree with someone’s opinion but still live with them. Now you are considered intolerant simply if you disagree. When the Bible is no longer the basis for our moral code, the potential for eroding Biblical values is endless. The self-appointed thought police take jurisdiction over any area of life they choose, even if it changes centuries of established wisdom and practice. In this context, are we raising a generation who will be able to continue to stand for God, with love, but without compromise?
Every New Doctrine?
Many children raised in church are finding themselves tossed backwards and forwards by every new doctrine that comes their way (Ephesians 4:14). In our attempts to make the program fun and engaging for the children we have deprived them of adequate nutrition. The Bible not only contains our moral framework, but our very reason for moral living, a relationship with the living God. If our children only feed on spiritual candy, we should not be surprised when they suffer from spiritual cavities. We should be encouraging our children to be still and meditate on God’s word instead we have fed them a spiritual diet that causes them to become hyperactive and gloss over truth. Some will argue that this is inevitable in a fast-moving culture, where attention spans of children are decreasing. I disagree. We shouldn’t give up in the battle before we have even started. Indeed, the more of God’s manifest presence the children experience, the more of God’s peace I have seen them manifest. At times, we have seen the Holy Spirit hold the attention of even very young children for far beyond their natural attention span. I am saddened travelling around the Western nations to see how weak our teaching has generally become to this next generation. At a time when Christian values are under attack we should be ensuring that our children are stronger to face the fight. Instead many children in the church are spiritually weak, unable to stand against the pull of the world.
Not Yet Teachers?
There is a famine in our land. It is not a famine for food (the obesity epidemic in Western nations makes that clear). Instead it is a famine for hearing God’s word. To rectify this we need to stir our children’s faith, a faith that comes by hearing God’s word.
This is not a new thing. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 Paul speaks of his frustration that the believers in Corinth are still sold out to the world and so are not yet prepared for meat.
The writer in Hebrews felt the same frustration: he wanted to feed solid food to the church, but he was having to feed them milk again. He writes in Hebrews 5:12 “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.”
There are members in our churches who have been attending for a decade and yet still need to be fed milk teaching. Is this what is happening in our children’s ministries? Instead of children being released as teachers to impart all God has deposited in them over their years of ministry in the church, we are having to spoon-feed the basics to them again.
When you read the list of milk teachings in Hebrews 6, it provides a challenge for us all to step up to as we expect our children to grow in the kingdom.
The milk teachings in Hebrews are:
Repentance from dead words
Faith in God
The doctrine of baptisms
Laying on of hands
Resurrection of the dead
So how can we make sure we are feeding our children spiritual meat and not just sharing sweet stories?
Teach doctrines, not just stories. When you tell a story, use it to bring out doctrine (teaching) on the nature of God and our relationship with Him.
Delight yourself in God’s word. Let your children see you enjoying the word as you teach them with your Bible open. Share the revelations that God has given you from his word.
Teach children to read the Bible for themselves, pulling the meat off the bone and chewing it over. This means they need to read God’s word regularly, study it (with skills we can help them with) meditate on it and live by it in their everyday lives. As an aside, while Bible reading notes can be helpful, they can also distract children from engaging directly with the Bible. Speaking with children, I have found that just because they read their Bible study notes, it does not meant that they are reading the Bible!
Encourage families to read the Bible together.
Encourage them to memorize scriptures, hiding God’s word in their hearts (Psalm 119:11).
Encourage children to share testimonies. It may be a testimony of them learning a principle of God’s kingdom from the Bible and putting it into practice or of standing up for righteousness in school. This will encourage other children in the group to do the same.