Children In Church
I thought this was a great article from Core Christianity and wanted to share with you. It is by Starr Meade an author on parenting with young children.
Piety is "devotion to religious duties." The faithful observance of duty in a culture as feeling-oriented as ours sounds less than interesting. Yet devotion to duty ensures that what is right and important gets done, however, we feel about it at the moment. Devotion to duty is a part of good character, and devotion to religious duty-piety-is an essential part of godly character. Several commonly held misconceptions about what is best for children threaten to derail the training of our children in this kind of piety if we should thoughtlessly embrace them.
Misconception 1: "Good parenting is child-centered."
Child-centered parenting fails on two counts. First, it fails to prepare a child for life in the real world. As children grow, they will find that playmates, teachers, bosses, and spouses do not base all of their decisions on their preferences. If children have come to expect the constant fulfillment of their desires by others, then they will be prepared only for disappointment. Second, and more important, child-centered parenting fails to train a child in piety. Parents must model that God and his will are supreme. The godly parent makes God’s will central, not the child’s.
Misconception 2: “The most important element of spiritual teaching for children is the child’s enjoyment.”
Piety must begin with the knowledge of the one true God, which means God as he has revealed himself in the Bible. Yet there is an anti-intellectual sentiment in many evangelical circles that makes a virtue of loving and doing, while actually despising learning and knowing. Doctrine and academic knowledge are contrasted with heartfelt love for Jesus, as though we may have one or the other but not both. Although one can know about God without loving him, one cannot love the true God without knowing him. And since the true God has chosen to reveal himself to us in the pages of the Bible, we cannot know him without study. Engaging children when we teach is important and we want our children to enjoy learning; yet we should never make our children's enjoyment the top priority in our worship services, Sunday school classes, Vacation Bible Schools, or family devotions. Solid, intellectual substance pulled from the propositions God gives us in Scripture must be our top priority as we lay the foundations on which our children will build lives of piety before God.
Misconception 3: "The goal of education is a fulfilling or lucrative career."
Whatever kind of education we choose for our children, we must realize that they spend a large portion (perhaps the largest portion) of their everyday lives absorbing what we have chosen for them. So have we asked ourselves whether they are being adequately trained to see the glory of God in every academic discipline they encounter? Are we teaching them to work diligently, not only to acquire those skills they may someday use in a job, but also at those tasks that require intellectual rigor that can enrich their lives and make them more fully human? Are we faithfully reminding our children, by our words and deeds, that we are requiring these things so that they may see more fully God’s glory and show it to their generation?
Misconception 4: “A family’s top priority should be involvement in its children’s activities.”
Considering the tremendous importance, the New Testament places upon the Church of Christ, true family piety-devotion to religious duties-must include a family's commitment to a local church body. When a family is so busy with children's activities that it must take Sunday as a day to stay at home together as a family and rest, or when those activities take place on Sunday and must be attended, precluding church attendance, a family is not seeing as God sees or loving what Christ loves. Children can learn very early that a church body is their family and that God's people are their people. They can learn that worship and meeting with the people of God are top priorities-indeed, duties given by God-that are not to be set aside. Faithful parents can set the example of involvement in a local church and be sure that their children, however young, have some way to serve there themselves.
Misconception 5: "Church is for adults."
We must keep in mind that the children among us are part of the Church of today. We should work hard to include them now so that they will still want to be here later. Parents can teach their children that God requires their involvement with a church. They can set the example by faithfully bringing their children to worship each week. But it is only the Church itself-the people of God whom the children see each Sunday-who can make those children feel that they belong, who can help them want to be there, devoted to this particular religious duty of Church involvement. Faithful participation in the Church is so important to our Lord Jesus Christ. The diligence of both parents and congregation are needed in this most vital part of a child's training in piety.
What would we most want our children to take from our families when they are grown? Do we want our children to know God, as he has revealed himself in his Word, and to love him with a love that moves them to glorify and serve him all their days? Do we want Christian piety in our children? Then let us examine our priorities and our practices. Center our parenting around God rather than around our children.