An elder preceded the minister into the pulpit and then came to the front and addressed the congregation. “Last week…a child was bored in the service.” A gasp went through the congregation. Men looked at their feet, women cried quietly, and children went white. “The church officers are meeting with the minister during the week and will announce our conclusions next Sunday. In the meantime we want to apologise to that child and his parents and all the other children,” the elder concluded before leaving the pulpit. The ashen-faced preacher came to the pulpit, and in a trembling voice began the service…
Back in July, I posted about my daughter’s endeavor to schedule not only play dates for her children but also Bible lesson dates. Here is an update from her about how things are going. Hopefully, it will serve as an encouragement for other moms to give this idea a try.
If you were to sit and observe us, you would see two mothers juggling babies and doing their best to get two very active toddlers to listen to Bible stories and remember important themes. After 15 years of Sunday school classroom experience, being mommy-as-teacher has proven to be my hardest role yet. The first week of our Bible school, all went well, because all was new. The second week—during the story of the Fall—unruly students were given a prolonged definition of sin using real life illustrations and Ephesians 6:1. Our two wigglers calmed down in the third week, but only after Cain murdered Abel. In the end, we have resorted to promising cookies after the lesson in exchange for listening ears. So far, it has worked.
After the story, we sing a few children’s praise songs using the drums, bells, and shakers we have at home. Then we go to the dining room table to color the workbook page and repeat and apply the lesson story and themes. A week’s worth of preparation comes down to 30 minutes of intensive teaching and discussion. Sometimes it’s tempting to wonder if the result is worth the effort.
But then consider this: After a hard lesson on Cain and Abel, I took David and Elizabeth for a walk to the local gas station for ice cream. While we admired cars and trucks along the way, I started asking David questions about the Bible story. To my surprise, he was able to correctly identify both brothers and what they did. From there, we were able to talk about sin, loving God, and the consequences of both. It wasn’t in-depth by any means, but it was the basic things that a three-year-old heart in the throes of rebellion needed to hear and understand.
Bringing the curriculum home has helped us to grow as parents and believers in at least four ways:
We believe that God sent Jesus into the world to save us.
We trust Jesus, and He has forgiven us for all our sins.
We love Jesus and want to do what He commands.
When we die, we will go to heaven and live with Jesus forever.
"Worshipping God" means different things at different ages. Younger children, who may not know God yet, may still participate enthusiastically in various external forms of worshipping God. However, we want their worship to be from the heart, and not simply a matter of conforming. They need a clear knowledge of who God is and what He has done. That includes His nature, His attributes, and His works, especially our redemption through Christ. As the Holy Spirit enables them, they will become increasingly aware of their sinfulness before God, accept His gracious gift of forgiveness through the Gospel, and be included among those who will forever be growing in their love for and worship of God. In the mean time, our job is to help them be "dazzled" by the glory of Jesus Christ (quoting Paul Tripp). For one thing that means using more songs that tell us about God than how we feel about Him.
The salvation of our children is priceless; their spiritual needs far outweigh their physical needs. They need our prayers—our earnest prayers with hearts aflame, both for their initial repentance and coming to Christ by faith, and for their life of ongoing growth in faith. Matthew Henry rightly declared that it is of far more value for parents who die to leave behind a treasury of prayers for their children than it is to leave behind a treasury of silver and gold.¹