QUESTION: I have
heard you say that the most important responsibility for Christian parents is to teach
their children about Jesus Christ. We are new Christians and new parents. How do we go
about introducing our little girl to what we believe?
best approach is found in the instruction given to the children of Israel by Moses more
than 3,000 years ago. He wrote, "Impress (these commandments) on your children. Talk
about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and
when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write
them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates" (Deuteronomy 6:7-9).
This commandment provides the key to effective spiritual training at home. It
isnt enough to pray with your children each night, although family devotions are
important. We must live the principles of faith throughout the day. References to the Lord
and our beliefs should permeate our conversation and our interactions with our kids. Our
love for Jesus should be understood to be the first priority in our lives. We must miss no
opportunities to teach the components of our theology and the passion that is behind it.
I believe this teaching task is the most important assignment God has given us as
parents. The reason this is such a critical responsibility is that the world will be
giving your children very different messages in the days ahead. It will take them to hell
if not counter-balanced by a firm spiritual foundation at home. This is one task about
which we cant afford to be lackadaisical.
What is the most important period in the spiritual training of children?
Each is important, but I believe the fifth year is often the most critical.
Up to that time, a child believes in God because his or her parents say it is the right
thing to do. She accepts the reality of Christ as she would a story about Santa Claus or
the Easter Bunnyuncritically and innocently. At about 5 or 6 years of age, however,
she begins to think more about what she is told. Some kids come to a fork in the road
about that time. Either they begin to internalize what theyve been taught and make
it their own or else the Bible stories become like fables.
I certainly dont mean to imply that parents should wait until the child is 5 or 6
to begin spiritual training. Nor are subsequent years insignificant. But I am convinced
that our most diligent efforts within the family and our best teachers in Sunday school
ought to be assigned to the child of 5 or 6 years. There will be crucial crossroads after
that, but this one is vital.