Raising Children in the Faith / by David Flowers

Hello CMF,

We're in the middle of VBS right now! Please continue to pray for the workers and the children involved. We have a small group, but still we believe we're making a big impact.

Last Sunday I gave the message Let the Children Come to reveal the love Jesus has for children, and the responsibility we have to create strong families and relationships in the church that teach a biblical worldview and reflect lives of disciples to the little ones.

Here are a few more verses and thoughts to consider taken from The Woman's Study Bible. I follow up this excerpt with further thoughts of my own.

"The family, throughout Scripture, is considered to be the basic channel for the moral and practical teaching of children (Dt 6:6–7). Within the home, children are to learn the praises of the Lord and his strengths and works (Ps 78:1–4), daily self-discipline (Pr 13:24; 22:15; 29:15) and the history of God’s people (Dt 6:20–25). Historically, the instruction of children was to be in three basic areas:

  • Religious education. Children were expected to learn the Law in order to become a kingdom of priests and a holy people (Ex 19:6).
  • Occupational skills. Children learned trades in an apprentice environment and took on such responsibilities at an early age (1Sa 16:11).
  • Military strategy and skills. Agility and courage were emphasized in the OT (2Sa 22:34).

Oral instruction was prevalent, with an emphasis on recitation of historical exploits, proverbs and the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Instruction was to be daily—highly repetitive and behavior- oriented—so that lessons might be memorized and result in action (Dt 11:18–21; Pr 22:6; Isa 28:9–10).  

Women were a vital link in teaching their own children (2Ti 1:5) and mentoring younger women (Titus 2:3–5). They were also trained in professional skills such as midwifery (Ex 1:15–21), cooking (1Sa 8:13), professional mourning (Jer 9:17–19), singing in the royal court (Ecc 2:8), poetic expression and prophecy (Ex 15:20–21).

The first mention of education in a public setting is one in which the people of God are commanded to read the covenant publicly once every seven years in the presence of all the people (Dt 31:10–13). Parents are admonished to teach with love and responsibility (Eph 6:4–7) and children to learn with an attitude of respect (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3)."

As I said, I took this from a study bible for women. Men, particularly fathers, also have a critical role to play in raising children in the faith. I won't give you all of the statistics, but it is plain as day that the presence of the father in family life is vital for healthy child development. 

Unfortunately, the spirit of the age in our own culture has been waging war against what has been called the "nuclear" family for the last 50 years. I strongly believe that behind the scenes of human activity is a demonic force at work perpetuating this attack. We must remember our real enemy.

While we are Anabaptists, and historically abstain from violence, and are not teaching our children "military strategies" in the home, men should be teaching what it means to have courage like Christ and battle in prayer against these forces in the unseen realms (Eph 6:12). Fathers ought to be emulating the heavenly Father, as revealed by Jesus, helping our kids relate well to God.

While the Lord has plenty of grace to go around for marriages and families that have been rocked by divorce, or just have simply not been intentional in following Jesus together, the impact is felt for generations. In fact, we're now seeing the harmful effects of a culture that has been working to obliterate the traditional family, and has trivialized the role of a committed mother and father.

As followers of Christ, we must resist this aspect of culture in loving faithfulness to God's design.

So where do we begin? It begins in our homes. Strive for healthy marriages. Be intentional in your relationship as a couple, and as a family unit. Stay committed to Christ and the church. Teach the Scriptures in your house, and help your children to discern truth from error. Take charge of what God has entrusted to you. And he will give you the power to persevere in the darkest of times. 

Pastor David