Saturday, August 27, 2016

Dare to Go Deeper...Our Kids Need Us!

Assuming your kid has grown up in church, would it surprise you if your child didn't know the difference between an apostle and a prophet? Seems kind of basic, but you might be surprised. I heard a Christian school parent say, "oh, like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John" to a comment about our kids studying the minor prophets in Bible class. So, yeah...

Let's talk about what growing up in church means for kids these days. First of all, my oldest baby girl was born 20 years ago, at the beginning of the push for big programs to replace the traditional Sunday School snore fest. I remember the "Sunday School" of yesterday...mainly because my family were the "every time the church doors are open" church-goers. So, I memorized the kings of the Old Testament, which ones over Israel in its entirety (Saul, David, and Solomon), then which kings were Southern and Lower Kingdom kings. I remember memorizing the books of the Bible (Old and New Testament) every single year. I sat in a wooden chair or at a desk and learned about the Bible, God, Angels, Jesus, the Tabernacle, the Fruit of the Spirit, the Beatitudes, the 12 Apostles (more if you count Paul and the one who replaced Judas), and I learned about Biblical prophets, judges, priests...and the difference between them. My kids didn't get that. They got flashes of the miracles of Jesus...they got Creation and the Flood (with great interactive graphics because their imaginations probably wouldn't picture the Tree of Life or the Ark's cubits correctly). My kids didn't learn the "book work" of the Bible; they got the fun stuff. 

No wonder my oldest child barely knew anything about Solomon (she knows more now)...but seriously guys, we rarely expect our kids to know much at all about the Bible beyond the (incorrect) application of Jeremiah 29:11. Oh wait...for all you parents with child athletes, there's also the Ephesians 4:13 nugget for success. I mean, what do kids these day really need to know beyond John 3:16 in order to tell their friend about Jesus anyway...

I'm not saying the children's programs aren't "better" than they used to be. They are better in a lot of ways, but having a "video game" type of children's program doesn't mean it has to be vague in application, always happy, or benign in conviction. I'm sure there are still a few places out there that teach the meat of the scripture every week, but let's be honest about the quantity of these hypothetical places. Seems like we've replaced the quality of Biblical knowledge our kiddos get at church with top quality multi-media programing. At least we don't have bored kids. Right? 

At least there's that.

Last month, my youngest daughter at the ripe old age of 11 wept because she thought she didn't understand the Bible. I asked what she was reading and stopped panicking when she said "Revelations." She was worried that if she didn't understand what she was reading that it meant that she really didn't believe in God, or Jesus, or a multi-eyed, six-winged angels of terror guarding a throne. We talked for a while, and I told her to start with John or Matthew because those books, in my opinion, give a good overview of the life of Jesus. She's currently reading the last chapter of John (several verses have been highlighted in bright yellow)...The main thing is that she's excited about reading and learning...and she's even using a regular old paper copy of the Bible and totally managing without any fanfare. I mean...she's not even using an digital or online version of the Bible!!! 

Parents...we cannot blame the church when our kids don't know the difference between a prophet and an apostle...I mean, we could blame the church, but we're the ones "serving our time" in the classes on Sundays. Some of us are even the ones choosing the curriculum and regulating the Sunday children's programs. We have no choice but to blame ourselves; after all, we are the ones God entrusted to bring up our own precious children. Us. We. The buck stops with the parents. We are the ones who can speak up and change things in the churches...and, we can get serious about teaching Biblical principles and knowledge at home. Some of us leave the Bible education to a Christian school. Usually the subjects are sifted through the lens of Christianity, but,'s a school, and they also teach Math, Science, PE, Art, Music, History, Spelling, Reading, Grammar, Spanish, etc.! So don't bank all your money on a school that's main focus is to  provide a regular education in a Christian setting to also be the main (and sometimes only) influx of Biblical teaching for your child. 

When children have a grasp of who God is to them: their creator, their good Father, their friend, etc., they want to follow Him and believe in Him and dwell with Him. Once a child learns about God, he often opens his heart to Him. But, kids need to know who God is, and we must be the ones to stand in this gap and teach them. I need to stand in the chasm of spiritual ignorance for my own children; it's the huge gap I've ignored because I created my own false security when I dropped them off for an hour and fifteen minutes in a classroom at church (once a week) and expected someone else to give them the meat of the Gospel. 

See...the Sunday School of my day eased the load of Biblical instruction that was always supposed to the parents' responsibility. The thing is the "old way" of doing Sunday School (and having children sit in the main service) made me more knowledgable about God, BUT my parents reinforced Biblical principles and knowledge at home. My dad read to me every night from a huge book of Bible stories, and my mom prayed with us. I noticed my mom's Bible open on the kitchen table a lot of mornings, and my Dad served others in the church and led his family by example. My kids may have seen or heard this from me, but not enough. 

Let me spell it out: The command to bring kids up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord was given to parents. God gave children to parents (not schools and churches), and we need to take the command to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord seriously. Most of us are failing to teach our kids about the Bible...about Biblical characters and their timeline...about spiritual gifts...about actually submitting to and following Jesus. We excel at helping kids feel good about Jesus. We teach them about love and do a good job with grace and compassion as well. But, do our kids know how to hear God's voice? Do they know who wrote Ephesians? Do they know the things you learned in Sunday School?

Dare to go deeper. 
Dare to lead your kids deeper. 
Dare to dig deeper yourself. 
Dare to dig deep enough to uncover the belief.
Dare to believe God for the relationship He longs to have with you. 

p.s. Good idea alert...Last year, one of my kids read the book of Proverbs by looking at the calendar date. If it was the 10th of the month, she read Proverbs 10; it works out nicely because Proverbs has 31 chapters. She got this idea from a remarkable teacher who encouraged her students to start reading the Bible this way. The main thing is to start reading...begin learning...take the dare!

p.p.s. Part of what prompted this post was the lack of resource material out there if you wanted to start going deeper. The Bible should be the text, of course, but many of us want/need to follow an outline or have supplemental guidance. The material I did find for middle school aged students is, I suggest spending time in study on your own then sharing that with your kids. I'm doing that...starting with Judges. If I can do it, you can too.

p.p.p.s. I feel a need to write that we currently attend a church without a bunch of hoopla in the children's department (or the youth either)...the children's ministry servants and pastors and small group leaders are excited to share with our kids personally each week, and this is one of the many reasons we love our church. :)


  1. Awesome - thank you Kari :o) I know I have failed my kids so far in this regard. I have only read the actual bible while in catholic grade school. I have many in my house, just never open them. Grace and Avery were on your porch last night getting so excited about reading the bible with Emi. Crazy (and sad), I never think to do this with them. So, do you have any suggestions for a reading outline for myself and kids? I think you are an amazing person and momma!!

  2. want to start this, so that's a win!! I'd start with Psalms, Proverbs, John, or Matthew. Genesis is also a good place to start...a lot of those stories will be familiar. I just keep thinking that giving the kids a love to study on their own is just as important as teaching them. Emi reads the Bible more than I do...she's teaching me a lot of things too, just about the genuine love of reading the Bible.

  3. Kari--Thanks for this! As a pastor's wife in a small church where a children's wing with an indoor playground and a theater with a snack bar are no more realistic for us than personally landing a man on the moon, this is an encouragement. We have tried really hard to give meat to the kids in our church. It's not flashy (although we hope it is engaging and memorable), but it is earnest. I trust that God will use our efforts and, more importantly, the faithfulness of parental instruction to lay an solid, firm foundation for the children the Lord has brought into our lives.