At Crossings Community we spent the weekend talking about the family and what it means to own the responsibility of discipling our children. We also spent some time talking about how the church is desiring to equip, support, and resource the parents as the primary faith-trainers in their home.
We see in Deuteronomy 6:4 that the foundation of what we are to pass on to our children is doctrine. This scares so many people. I’ve talked with people who objected to this because they did not want to brainwash their children but wanted them to be able to think for themselves. I’ve talked to others who respond similarly but with a slight variation by expressing that they want their children to make good choices, but do not want to tell them what they have to believe. They want them to discover their own beliefs independently.
There are so many issues with this mindset. First, pardon my frankness, we are incredibly ignorant if we believe we are not going to teach our children what to believe. That being said, they may accept or reject it on their own in time, but it is completely unrealistic to think any one of us is going to raise our children in a belief-absent vacuum.
Next, teaching our children doctrine does not mean that we are teaching them to be mindless. Honestly, it is the extreme opposite. As we teach our children doctrinal truth we must welcome any and all of their questions. Sometimes there will be A LOT of questions. My son has been working through Revelation in his Sunday morning small group time and this has produced so many great conversations for us. He has asked me so many questions. Some of them are very purposeful and valuable, while others have no basis in any sort of reality. However, with great patience I talk with him about every single question and make sure that he knows that I welcome them and enjoy talking about them with him.
The truth is that he, at age 6, is learning how to think and work through difficult ideas much more than a child who is being raised by parents who are attempting to not teach anything regarding belief (as impossible as that may be). You are missing out on some really great joys (and laughs) by avoiding these conversations. Most importantly, you are neglecting the responsibility of teaching your children truth and then allowing them the space to process it in an age appropriate manner. That ‘processing’ might include doubt and questioning, but this is good because it means they are learning to think and believe for themselves.
Move beyond your fear and apprehension and begin teaching your children the core beliefs handed to us in the Bible. Then, watch and see how right belief begins to turn into right action in their own unique ways. Most important, welcome all of their questions, regardless of how crazy they might sound. Never be scared to admit that you do not know the answer. This is a great opportunity for you to model honesty, authenticity, and how to learn and process truth in your own way.
There are many people who are good and moral people, and yet will be eternally separated from our God. Let’s engage the journey and walk in the joys of teaching our children doctrine and commit to praying that God will make those truths real in their hearts.