Myth #6: The church is providing my child’s spiritual education so I can focus on other things at home.
Observation: Some parents put all their “eggs” in the proverbial “church basket”. They reason that it is the church’s job to provide a spiritual education for their children.
Problem: The problem with this reasoning is manifold. First, the Scriptures are clear that “parents are to bring up their children in the nurture and instruction of the Lord”. It is the calling of parents to pass on the faith to their children. It is their primary role. Now that is not to say that the church has no role in educating children. I firmly believe that God has given gifts to the church, and that we need to expose our children to all of those gifts including the teaching gifts of others.
A second problem is the usual result of this approach. I have found that the children least equipped to handle the pressures of our ungodly world system are the children whose only input comes from the church, who do not hear or see the faith evidenced at home. The next step up are those who are educated at home. Those most equipped are those who have parents who are diligent about both teaching at home and the church.
A third problem is that the church may not be teaching your children well. Now there are many variables that go into an excellent children or youth ministry, but one that is essential is the curriculum. Every church needs a curriculum that is God-exalting and Christ-centered. Jesus said in His high priestly prayer that “this is eternal life, that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” If children are going to grow up and know life they are going to have to be nurtured on a substantive curriculum, but this is not easy to come by.
Early in my ministry I examined a fairly popular curriculum. One lesson in particular focused on that event when John introduced Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” to two of his disciples. When these two disciples followed Jesus and Jesus invited them to come with him, the curriculum focused on this friendly overture and developed the lesson theme: Jesus is friendly so we should be friendly, too. They turned a marvelous lesson on the redemption of Christ into a moralistic lesson. Children who grow up on a diet of this kind of teaching never do hear the “good news”.
Even today there is a very popular curriculum that focuses on character traits. In one lesson they take the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 to teach their character trait of “initiative”. The curriculum states that the focus of the lesson is on the initiative the disciples showed by gathering the two fish and five loaves. Again children growing up on a diet of this kind of moralistic teaching never really learn that the gospel is a call to repent from being your own Lord, to enshrine Christ as Lord, and then to live the rest of your days for His mission not yours.
Parents, it is not an either / or proposition. When the church and home work together children thrive most. I believe that is the way God intended it!