Friday, December 14, 2007

Sunday School and Youth Groups

This has been the only issue that has brought response to my last post (I have more than one blog and post the identical posts in them all. So if you don’t see other responses than your own, this is why.)

There are some very good Sunday School programs and youth groups out there. The leaders are sincere and are honestly trying to lead the children into a life long love of Christ. However, we are loosing our children. More that 80% of children raised in Christian homes will leave the church at age 18. Obviously these programs aren’t doing what they are supposed to do; prepare our children for adult Christian life. Many, many children that are “on fire for God” in their childhood or teens transfer that energy and devotion to work or hobbies in adulthood.

What is the purpose of these programs in the first place? The original Sunday school was founded by John Wesley to teach the children of NO BELIEVERS how to read and love God. Believer’s children were not allowed! They were expected, at that time, to teach their own children about God. By the turn of the last century Sunday school had morphed into a program to lead Christian children to the Lord as well as teach them what they need for adulthood while still trying to bring in and save the un-churched children. Is this the way the Bible says to do things?

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. Deuteronomy 11:18

And, ye fathers (Greek word pater from which we get our word parents), provoke your children to wrath (to rouse to wrath, to provoke, exasperate, anger) not: but bring them up in the nurture (education) and admonition (instruction, training, or culture) of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

Who does God command to teach children about Him? The parents. Can they have help? Certainly… within the framework of God’s methods.

Most children’s programs take the training away from the parents, even teaching the children different beliefs than the parents have (I have had this happen to me. Minor doctrinal issues and a few biggies that I had to un-teach after churchL) Parents bring their children to Sunday school and youth meetings and think they have done their job spiritually. Some studies have shown that children raised this way are the ones leaving the church in such high numbers. Children that attend churches with no youth groups or Sunday schools are staying in church to the tune of more than 60% (add in homeschooling and the number jumps to more than 90%)

1. God is capable of speaking to our children without our pastor’s help. We don’t need a high priest anymore. We can go straight to God ourselves and that includes our children. Children treated like adults by being left with the adults to worship like adults will grow up with an adult faith.
2. When we do things different than God’s plain spoken will, God will not bless it. There was a time when every believing family had devotions at breakfast and supper time everyday. Then came TV. Now we “don’t have the time. And anyway, their youth leader/Sunday school teacher is doing that stuff.” It is the church’s responsibility to teach the parents and the parent’s responsibility to teach the children. Doing it God’s way makes the parents learn better and faster, bonds the family together and has more lasting results.
3. Children’s programs remove the father from headship over the children. In fact, since most of these programs are staffed by women, it feminizes them making our boys see religion as a “girl thing.” No wonder our churches are now mostly women! Children who grow up having family devotions, learning the Word at the feet of their father and worshiping with their families have a more realistic view of God’s relationship to the church. They also grow up knowing how important God and the bible is.

Can these programs produce godly adults? Yes. I attended public school and stayed in church too. That doesn’t mean it was the ideal or most effective way to do things.

What about new converts who don’t know enough to teach their children? It doesn’t’ take a theology degree to read a chapter out of the bible and pray each evening. We teach new converts that they should come to church regularly and tithe. We just need to add “read your bible to your children every day.” The family can learn together.

What about children who come without their unsaved parents? They can be “adopted” during the duration of the service by one of the established families in the church. They can learn from the same sermons and songs as everyone else and be encouraged to start reading the bible daily for themselves (as we all should anyway).

Won’t the children disturb the service?

But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 19:14

When we exclude the children from “real” church, we are excluding the Kingdom Of Heaven. Very young children can be taught to sit still in service. After all, they are expected to sit still for the whole three hour kindergarten class and often sit through a two hour movies. They are capable of doing the same in church. They just have to be taught (mine are in the “main” church from birth. Yes they make noise occasionally, but they learn very early to be still and quiet. It just takes teaching). Additionally, the congregation needs to become more tolerant. Children are part of God’s kingdom too.

I have kind of mixed up family devotions with Family Integrated Churches here. It seems people can’t do one without the other. Those who attend a Family Integrated Church tend to have devotions while I have seldom met a family who endorses Sunday School programs and youth groups who did the devotions thing. When parents abdicate their responsibility by sending their children to Sunday School programs and youth groups, they seem to trust those programs to do everything. I am sure there are exceptions, but I have seldom seen them.

For an article I wrote on Family Integrated Churches some years ago;

Bro. Baucham’s bog entries on the subject:

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

What is your most important goal for your children?

Be careful answering that! The first time I did I had to do some quick back tracking. Surveys have said that 80% of CHRISTIAN parents answer that question “to give them a good education.” Let me repeat that… Surveys have said that 80% of CHRISTIAN parents answer that question “to give them a good education.” (I have to admit that the first time I heard the question, that is how I answered it too).

What happened to heaven? Shouldn’t a CHRISTIAN parent’s first answer be “to get them to heaven?”
I have read many books on child raising, especially getting your children to stay in church serving God. Most of them have logical sounding arguments. However I am in a unique position to evaluate all of them. I was raised in a Christian home and three out of two of the children my parents raised are not only still in church but in the ministry (my older half- brother is also a minister, though he was raised in his mother’s house; not ours) I know what works.

How to keep your kids with God.

Don’t be a hypocrite. Be real. This is the number one thing my parents did that was right. They made no bones about it that they believed the Bible to be absolutely true and they LIVED it to the best of their ability.
Laugh. We enjoyed being together in work or play. My parents weren’t overly critical and did forgive when we did wrong. We had fun.

Talk. My parents always explained what was going on and why they made the decisions they made. They discussed politics, religion, morals and life in general with us. (Note: we spent a great deal of time together to allow this to happen.)

Now, my parents are human and things could have been done that I think would have made it easier to stay in church and would have made us stronger Christians.

Homeschool. You wouldn’t send your child to an Islamic school for their education without expecting them to become Muslims. If you send your child to an atheist (government) school they will become atheists. Most private schools are just baptized government schools. Some even use the same curriculum.

Don’t let them be in a youth group. Avoid age integrated activities. Peer pressure is too powerful to resist.

Don’t let them learn to bend to the power of popular. Yes, this means Sunday School too.
Limit or, better yet, avoid the modern media culture. TV, movies, etc. are just hedonist school. they teach you to be shallow and selfish.

Read the Bible, sing, pray together. Show with your time what is really important to you. How much time do you spend watching tv every day? How about hobbies and sports? Shopping? Shouldn’t you spend at least 15 minutes a day you’re your King if He is really the most important thing in your life? If you want Him to be in your child’s life too, make sure you make it a priority for their time too. Have family Bible reading time daily.

PLEASE READ THESE. These women have a great deal of wisdom and are on the right track for solving the problem of the hemorrhaging of our children from church.

This blog discusses what I think is one of the biggest causes of problems with our children today.

This one is about God’s unique plan for women.

People are wasting valuable years of their life and living in never-never land.