I – Who controls the family agenda? The Word of God places man as the head of the family, but also places the wife as a helper. The father must be the spiritual leader of the home, but he counts on the indispensable and graceful help of his wife. Thus, they must do everything to organize and supervise an agenda that promotes the growth and strengthening of the family in
the Word of God. A) How are devotions in the home? Lack of time? B) How do children spend their time on weekends, long-weekends, holidays, and vacation periods? Unnecessary journeys to The Need for Christian Education in the homes
When people talk about education, it is quite common for a number of images to emerge in the mind that sum up what education would be. Many soon think of the figure of a school; Others may even think of a large library full of books that will provide education to them. And if we are going to be specific about Christian education, then people think of a Christian school or simply the teaching work developed by the local church, such as Sunday School, Sabbath School, Catechesis, etc. While these images fit within the discussion of education, and more specifically within the discussion proposed in this talk that is about Christian education in the homes, today I want to draw your attention to the fact that Christian Education is something that develops independently of these formats and especially at home, and even since the birth of the child (and would not be exaggeration to say: from the conception of the child, since everything that happens around her/his during the gestation period also influences the personality formation).
In this talk we will address the following points:
- The Concept and Purpose of Christian Education.
- Assuming our responsibility consciously.
- Developing our responsibility.
- The Concept and Purpose of Christian Education.
Our level of commitment to Christian education in the home is intimately connected with our understanding of what Christian education is. The concept of educating is well defined in several dictionaries, but what will determine the act of educating are the beliefs of each person. It will depend exactly on our worldview, which is formed by the set of assumptions through which we see the world. A person guides their attitudes according to how they interpret the world. Just to cite a simple example: if one believes that the human being is the center of the universe, all his attitudes will be influenced by this vision. And surely your way of educating will be to convey your vision to your children or share your vision with others. If one believes that God is the owner of the universe and that man is a steward who has been placed to administer it and also to enjoy it, it will make a huge difference in his/her way of seeing things, including in his/her way of educating.
Getting straight to the point, this means that the act of educating is never neutral. In our case, it must be the fruit of our biblical vision. And from that it is correct to deduce that the more uncommitted our biblical view, the more uncommitted will be our commitment to the education of our children. If we confess and believe that to the Lord belongs all things, then everything, including our lives and the lives of our children, belongs to Him, and therefore must be developed for Him. This truth must already have a great impact on the value we give to the education of our children.
Many church members today err in creating a limited and divided view of education. There are basically three misconceptions when we talk about education:
I – Treating education only as behavioral development:
There is a saying that “education comes from the cradle.” Here is emphasized moral education, respect. And many when thinking about home education are referring to parents’ commitment to passing on behavioral rules. There are parents who do not care that their children doesn´t go to school because they say that what matters is to be a respected man or woman and to be a worker. Of course this kind of education is very important and I can say that it is becoming more and more rare. And I’m not just referring to the outside church environment. There are church members who have no problem letting their child do what they want in front of everyone; talk anyway; challenge superiors, etc. But despite this need to teach behavior, limiting education to a set of moral rules is not correct.
II – Treating education only as intellectual development:
It is possible that some parents require only the intellectual development of their children. Because they think that an educated person is an intelligent person, it is possible to overvalue intellectual knowledge, not even worrying about whether the child is arrogant, proud or lazy because what matters is to be intelligent and to be the pride of the family. It is important to master the areas of knowledge; be able to discuss with anyone on any subject. It is the quest for knowledge by it self.
III – When they think specifically on Christian education, they refer only as an isolated spiritual development:
Some people think that Christian education is given only when doing domestic devotions; when it comes to biblical doctrine. It’s as if Christian education is just one of the compartments of our life, which is good to have to not become a bad person. So having a Bible at home and following reading and prayer routines already meet the requirements, they think. The other issues are defined as secular and should be addressed only in school and even without integration with the Word of God.
Especially considering this misunderstanding and the one presented previously, when both are treated without any connection, results in the treatment of intellectual capacity as an isolated gift, to the point of investing in this gift dissociated from service to Christ. The effect of this is that many skillful people seek so hard to win the world with their talents to the point of losing their souls.
Acting this way is thinking that God has no influence on mathematics, geography, language, technology, etc.
A great educator named Amos Comenius (1592-1670) presented the need for children to be fully educated. That is, in its moral, intellectual and spiritual aspects. Our children are a complete being. When we look at our children we must understand that they have been created the image and likeness of God and are also heirs to the cultural mandate to explore, discover, and develop the potentialities left by God in creation. Furthermore, we must understand that in the light of the gospel, we are under the lordship of Christ and that it is our duty to teach our children the consequences of this in all areas of our lives.
A simple and objective concept of Christian education we find in the book by Perry G. Downs, Introduction to Christian Education, when he defines that Christian Education is the act of bringing the believer to maturity in Jesus Christ. We define maturity as the moment when a person is ready to take on his responsibilities; take care of her/himself; find a job; Institute and lead a family, etc. Maturity in Christ would then be when the believer manages to take on such responsibilities from a Christ-centered biblical vision. This involves theological knowledge, but mainly the consequences of this knowledge. If Christ is King, we are subjects. If Christ is the head of the body and we are members in the service of the body, we have responsibilities.
We will prepare our children to fully develop their capacity to see the world from a Biblical vision and thus they will be able to contemplate Christ in the works of creation and to understand his/her purpose in this world and so actively act in the environment, which includes exercising citizenship and using gifts in their work for the honor and glory of God.
Consider some biblical texts that give us an undeniable direction and help us understand why we should broaden our understanding of our children’s education:
1 Peter 2:9 – “But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, […].” We are not citizens of this world. We are only here in passing. We are getting ready for a new life. Although we live in the world, we are not of the world. (John 17:16). While we are here we must live in such a way that the difference of our life contrasts just as the light in the darkness. Our way of thinking and acting is different. So we need to teach our children on this reality. Our children must know why we teach them differently from the world.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – “Every holy Writing which comes from God is of profit for teaching, for training, for guiding, for education in righteousness: So that the man of God may be complete, trained and made ready for every good work.”
The Bible does not contain detailed procedures for each profession, but it has all the basic principles that call us accountability, so that according to the gifts God has given us, we will strive to be the best. Our children must understand why it is important to develop their skills and use them in the good works that glorify God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So then, if it is a question of food or drink, or any other thing, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
If eating and drinking should glorify the name of God, then all our attitudes ought to. All areas of life, including the education of our children.
Certainly there are more texts, but these already give us a good idea that our motivations for teaching our children must match their purpose as God’s creatures, redeemed in Christ. They are holy nation; they must use their gifts to the honor of God and to the good of their neighbors; they need to know that their lives, with all their being must be lived to glorify God.
This starts from the beginning, according to each child’s level, of course. When we have this clear concept in our mind, we will realize that our responsibility begins early.
It is not only a matter of teaching religion, but working with the child on various concepts of professions, respect for others, intellectual development, etc., showing them that in their purpose of serving Christ it is necessary to go beyond devotions and participation in worship. Remember … you are bringing your son or daughter to maturity in Christ; To take responsibility from a Christ-centered biblical vision.
It is necessary to live every moment teaching that Christ has authority over everything in our lives: studies, works, relationships.
Let´s move to the second point:
- Assuming our responsibility consciously.
We now know that Christian education is embracing and that we need to take well on our role. Faced with such a truth, it is possible to be desperate, because we realize that we do not see ourselves as capable as this to assume this role, after all, education involves every aspect of our children’s lives. Or is it possible that we are indifferent, because if it is so difficult and if few people can develop such a level of commitment as this, then why bother?
Well, getting scared is even acceptable, but being indifferent is very dangerous. Realize the following truths that confront us:
- Educating is the responsibility of parents. Deuteronomy 6.4-8 – states the following:
“Give ear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And the Lord your God is to be loved with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts; Teaching them to your children with all care, talking of them when you are at rest in your house or walking by the way, when you go to sleep and when you get up. Let them be fixed as a sign on your hand, and marked on your brow.”
The Lord commands parents to instill in their children the commandments of the Lord. The commandments speak of our relationship with God and our neighbor. They involve our whole lives, like children, students, employees, bosses, managers, etc. They unfold throughout all Scripture. God’s people in the Old Testament did not know Jesus. We know Him and receive the clearest and most complete teaching and know that it is not our role to teach only the five books of the Law, but all of Scripture, for it is through it that we receive all that is essential to know how to deal with the various situations that we will face in our daily life, but especially through it that we will know our Lord and Savior; Through it we will reach maturity in Christ. This involves theory, but also practice. The Word of God should be taught to our children not as a mystical book that should be learned only to ensure the fulfillment of our religious tasks.
Parents are called to care for their children in an integral way, not just ceremonial (or superficial). God Himself rejects empty ceremonies. (Psalm 51: 14-16, Micah 6: 8). Thus, it is no use teaching catechism, without teaching fearing God. No use making your children memorize verses and not teaching them to judge their choices according to Biblical standards. It is not only a matter of decorating the Word of God, but of living it; To apply it daily at home, at school, on conversations, on Facebook, etc. The knowledge about God fills us with responsibilities before Him.
And in the struggle to take on our responsibility we have several problems that affect us. Among them, I want to mention only two that prevent us from fulfilling this mandate:
1 – Selfishness. We tend to justify our failures saying that it is for lack of time. We want to devote time to work and to our well-being. We make time to take care of our beauty and to have fun. Yet it is possible for one even spend so much time in the church, and feel that is exempt from responsibility to educate because is working on the “good work”.
2 – The Negligence. Many times we think we just take the kids to church. And when we have a Christian school serving us, we think we do not have to worry about it. If a problem happens to our children, we’ll look for a culprit and demand that he/she fix the problem. We run the risk of living a life analyzing what others can do as negative for our children, but fail to act positively to bring them to maturity. School and church are important, but only if we assume our mandate. In terms of our children’s education, school and church are ancillary.
- Christian parents take their responsibility with impetus. Taking on this responsibility is not a matter of choice. It really is a must for believing parents. The Bible speaks clearly about the role of parents in the education of their children and the consequences of not assuming that role. The book of Proverbs, for example, is full of these instructions. But a captivating example that shows the love of a father in the instruction, not only of his child, but of a whole generation, we find in Psalm 71: 15-18:
“My mouth will make clear your righteousness and your salvation all the day; for they are more than may be measured. I will give news of the great acts of the Lord God; my words will be of your righteousness, and of yours only. O God, you have been my teacher from the time when I was young; and I have been talking of your works of wonder even till now. Now when I am old and grey-headed, O God, give me not up; till I have made clear your strength to this generation, and your power to all those to come.”
An old man who cares not only about the education of his children, but one generation after another. He sees it as a responsibility worthy of honor. He is not asking extra-life (strength) to accomplish his personal dreams (like a better house, a better car, or even to see his children well-stablished in this world). He wants to count the acts of God. The purposes of God.
Brothers and sisters, we have received life from the Lord and the truth is that we are often so preoccupied with our interests in this world that we forget our key role in the education of this new generation. As parents, it is quite easy to chart the path of our child’s success and even let them choose this path without regard to their purpose as children of God adopted in Christ.
What are the values we have nurtured in our children? What lifestyle do we have feed in their hearts? To win the world?
In the book Tell Me the Secrets, by Max Lucado and Ron DiCianni, there is a note from Ron in the story The Secret of Greatness. It says the following:
Greatness. The word sounds good. There is no father who does not desire greatness for his child. It is by the way, to achieve greatness, that most of us separate. If you asked any modern child to name a remarkable person, she/he would probably cite a rocker, a movie star, or a famous athlete; At least someone who is a public person. Let’s face it: this is what most of us believe to be greatness. However, we who are called by the name of Christ must use his definition of greatness. He said that a person who prefers to serve is great. Yes, you read correctly: serve. Do we encourage our children to become servants? We should, for Jesus said that the act of serving is the way to greatness. […]
All of us who have children must bear this responsibility. In fact, it is a public commitment that we assume at the time of the baptism of our little ones.
This mandate belongs to us. We can take advantage of partnerships with good schools and the teaching work of the church, but we are the first ones interested in fulfilling this mandate. Christ will charge us. Thinking about the parable of the talents, our children are talents that the Lord has placed in our lives. And in the end, he will come to us and ask: what did you do with the talent that I gave you? May our answer not be: “I knew you were too harsh, so I hid your talent. Here’s what’s yours.” We know the end of this history.
Let´s move to the last point.
- Developing our responsability.
It is already clear that Christian education is something we take on for being Christian and goes beyond religion classes or having a Christian school. It’s something that starts from our homes. We could see in the Bible passage how the children of God loved the Lord and knew His wonderful deeds and wanted to teach all this through the generations.
What about us? I want us to reflect on what we’re doing. At the beginning of this talk I mentioned that our level of commitment to the Christian education of our children is directly linked to our level of commitment to the Word of God. It will not be possible to educate our children in Biblical truths if we ourselves have not exercised ourselves in these truths. How will we bring our children to maturity in Christ if we often show ourselves immature in faith?
To direct our children, we need to be directed. That is why it is important that we do a sincere analysis of how our commitment to God and His Word is. This is demonstrated in day-to-day activities, so think about these points:
1 – The Family agenda:
visit relatives on Sunday? And the participation in the activities of communion promoted by the church? C) How is the participation in the church meetings for study the Bible (during the week or Sunday school)?
2 – The conversations on the family:
I – What is the level of conversations at home? In many families today there is no dialogue about the things of life, about morality and good manners. In our context, it is very easy for us to think only of things here on earth and not things that are high up. I’m not referring to just legalistic charges about how our kids should dress or what kind of music they should listen to and whether they should go to the movies or not. I think of promoting reflection on things that are from above so that they will be able to discern between what pleases God and what does not please Him. All conversations must be shaped by our Christian view of the world. This includes everything, since no area of knowledge is outside the domain of God.
II – How have we presented the church of Christ to our children? Have they learned from us to love this church, despite its weaknesses? Have they learned from us that the church belongs to Christ and that we should use our gifts to build this church? It is not surprising that many young people no longer attend church and still consider themselves close to God because they find it possible to live in communion with God and “be sick” of their weak brothers and sisters who are part of the church.
Some families use to “eat” the church as a “dessert” after the meal. Especially after a controversial meeting. I remember some words from Joel Beeke on his speech “The Puritans and the appreciation of the church”, when he says that it is possible to criticize the church, but when we do that, it must be on our knees and in tears.
3 – The goals of the family:
I – In your conversations with your children and in your day-to-day attitudes, is it clear that you serve God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength?
Do the children know why you work? Do they know why you engage in volunteer church work (the ecclesiastical offices and leadership)? Do they know why you give financial offers to the church? Do they know why Sunday services are so important?
Realize how all these things relate to the Christian education of our children. And realize how this can and should be done during all the moments of our life. This is the base to model all the aspect of our lives. It is not just a question of reserving fixed periods for instruction. How have we educated our children? Have we given attention to all the aspects that involve bringing our children to maturity in Christ?
Certainly there are more questions that could be asked to help us in our self-assessment. But I think we have enough to think and pray.
Finally, I just wanted to end by recognizing that the truth is that other than the civic maturity, which usually shows around the age of 18, our maturity in Christ lasts our entire life, because due to the effects of the Fall, our way of learning and practicing is Damaged. We can not go so far as to say that we are ready. But it is necessary to persevere in this personal quest for maturity so that we can share this in the transmission of biblical truths to our children.
The more committed we are to our children’s education, the more we will help the church to have strong families.
May the Lord bless us.
Elias Barbosa da Silva
Reformed Education Worker