Tag Archives: early childhood education

Take Your Little Children to Church

Parents teach their faith by sharing their faith in worship with their children.
Parents teach their faith by sharing their faith in worship with their children.

An article I read recently reported that many people with young children allege that they choose not to attend worship, even though they claim that they love the Lord, because the church they want to attend does not offer babysitting during worship.

I have observed for a long time that the statistics are climbing for young people turning away from Christian faith, or claiming no connection with religion, and I think I know the reason. These young people truly have no connection, because their parents did not give them any reason to make a connection with Jesus.

The claim that a church should have babysitting for small children during church is completely at odds with the way the Bible teaches us to rear our children. Moses said that children should be part of our faith in action from the time they are born. We ought to be talking with them night and day about what God has said and done in our lives. If that is God’s teaching, then we certainly ought to be taking them with us to church.

Several years ago we visited a large Catholic church in a heartland state as guests of my sister-in-law. This church was filled with children, and some were babes in arms. During the worship, there was some minor scuffling in pews where there were numerous children. We heard a baby cry during the sermon and also during the words of institution. There were children everywhere and they were both seen and heard from time to time. It hurt nothing. In fact, my husband and I both remarked how good it was to have children in church.

Our own church at that time had a program to occupy children to age 12 with other activities during worship. The children never attended worship, although some were brought in for communion, and the adults never attended Sunday School. In the hour between two worship services attended by more than 500 adults, it would be unusual to have more than twenty in the adult Bible class.

When we Christians publicly lament the falling away of the current generation of young people, we might ask why they make this choice. Why do the young people not continue in the faith of their fathers? I believe the answer is that their fathers and mothers have not taught them the faith of their fathers or modeled before them what it means to have faith in Christ. Their parents have not sat with them in church and helped them to understand what worship is, starting in the cradle. It is a very secular notion that children should not be exposed to religion or asked to process the teachings of religion “until they are old enough to decide for themselves.” God’s way is to “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

It is interesting to observe that the same secular thinkers who allege that people of faith have no right to teach their very young children about Jesus certainly believe that it is best to teach those same children about gender fluidity and the experimental way to determine sexual orientation at the vulnerable age of four or five. Secular thinkers validate the teaching Moses gave several thousand years ago, recorded in the Bible, a book secular thinkers and so-called progressive Christians consider to be a relic, not a guide. Contemporary culture leads contemporary parents astray by luring them to believe that children do not need, cannot handle, and suffer risk when exposed to religion in early childhood. Yet contemporary culture knows very well that in order to assure that a child lives a certain way, it is essential to start teaching him to live that way when he is very young.

Churches vary widely in the “services” available to protect parents from the discomfort of dealing with their children during worship services. My proposal: stop offering any such services. Children ought to remember that they cannot remember not going to church as a family. If they are in worship with their parents from the cradle, as babes in arms, then their early memories will be drenched in hymns, Scripture and the fellowship of the faithful. They certainly won’t understand everything as children, but being in worship with their parents provides all sorts of opportunities for parents to talk with their children about Jesus and to explain why we do various things as acts of worship. The things children learn in the context of the family relationship will serve them well when they learn to read and discover the same truths in the Bible for themselves.

As for the parental complaint that “I can’t worship when the children are fidgeting,” please remember that you take fidgety children to movies, ball games, and other activities where attention is required. Parents accept the obligation of rearing children when they bring children into the world. Teaching children to be quiet when told and to do other things when told is simply part of the process. Frankly, it seems to me that rearing children to learn how to meet God in worship is a very fundamental part of one’s own worship during the parenting years.

The author of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son” Hebrews 1:1-2. The author of Hebrews knew Jesus and had a living relationship with him. In the context of that relationship, he knew God even more richly than through the revelation recorded in Scripture. Our children learn through relationship, too. In relationship with their parents, they learn that God is real, he loves them, and he deserves their worship. People certainly do pick up Bibles, read them, and meet Jesus in those pages, but children can meet Jesus in the lives of their parents long before they are able to read anything. If my relationship with Jesus means anything to me, why would I not share it with my baby in my arms?

The best thing churches could all do is to invite babies and small children to worship. Make sure parents know that children are wanted and welcome. Instead of bag with coloring pages, give parents small guides for worshiping with children. The guides can include ways to prepare the children for worship ahead of time and encouragement in the discipline and self-discipline that makes worship possible. It is a win-win when a child learns something about both obedience to parents and obedience to God in the space of one hour. That accomplishment is surely more valuable than coloring a few pages to be taken home and trashed.

Christian parents need to be filling their children’s minds and hearts with Jesus, because the secular thinkers of the world are aggressively using early childhood to teach Satan’s agenda in kindergarten and grade school. Christians dare not wait to tell children about Jesus until they are “old enough to decide for themselves.” If Christians hold back and do not fill their children up with Jesus when they are young, secular educators will fill those vulnerable little hearts up with broad knowledge of gender fluidity and sexual experimentation to find out “what makes you happy.” There won’t be any room for Jesus after the secular educators have done their work.

The evidence is all around us. Children who were shuttled off to nursery and children’s church during worship believe that adult worship is a boring and unpleasant obligation. It isn’t fun, like the fun of nursery and children’s activities. Christian parents need to teach their children that being a Christian isn’t about fun; it is about knowing Jesus. Knowing Jesus can be fun, but there actually are more important aspects to life than having fun. If Christians want their children to know Jesus, they have the obligation to introduce their children to him at the earliest opportunity, and they must not let anyone tell them to wait till the child is “old enough to decide for himself.” Children do not get to decide much for themselves. Somebody will set the agenda for a child’s life. If the parent does not do it, secular educators will. Christian parents must bring their children of all ages with them into worship services.

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Photo: artist not known
source: http://lemonade.fatcow.com


What Did Moses Know About Childhood Education?

Moses and Ten Commandments

It turns out Moses was right.

Most Christians, those who believe that the Bible is God’s revelation of himself to humans, know that Moses was a man who spoke face to face with God. He led the Israelites out of Egypt, and he carried two huge stones down from Sinai after God wrote commandments on them with his finger. At the end of his life he preached a sermon to the Israelites and told them that they absolutely, positively, without fail must teach their children everything they had learned about God in the wilderness. Moses said,

These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

Because Moses spoke these words, people who use the Bible as a guide to faith and life dutifully teach their children about God. They read the Bible. They take the children to Sunday School. They pray with their children and for their children. They introduce their children to Jesus, and they teach their children how God wants them to live. They teach children that human beings are born sinful, and they teach their children to repent of their sins, confess them and turn away from them.

I bring this up, because secular thinkers accuse Christian parents of being child abusers, because Christian parents tell children that they are born sinful. Yet Christian parents say these things, because Moses admonished parents to do so. Moses, the man who spoke with God face to face, said these things, because the things children learn when they are young stick with them all their lives. Whoever teaches children what to believe teaches them the way they will live. The Catholic Church used to say, “Give us a child till he is seven years old, and you can do what you will after that.” They said that, because they had learned through millennia of childhood education that what little children learn is crucial.

Secular thinkers, however, try to tell Christians that they should not interfere with the minds and hearts of children while they are small. Secularists tell Christians that it is wrong to “impose” religion on children when they are so small and vulnerable. Of course they say that, because they do not want children to be Christians; they want children to grow up secular and believe secular teaching.

How do I know that this is their objective? I know it, because of what secular teachers are doing. A recent online article reports the work of a lesbian teacher whose mission is to “help” children learn to accept homosexuality as a normal way of life. Pam Strong says that in many years of teaching children about homosexuality, she finds that they are most willing to accept the teaching in kindergarten. If they learn about homosexuals in kindergarten, they pretty much accept it as the norm by fifth grade, according to Ms. Strong.

This is exactly what Moses told the Israelites, many thousands of years ago. This is what generations of Christian parents have learned, too. Five-year-olds are ready and willing to be taught by adults. They want to know what adults know, and they want to please adults, so they try to be obedient. Kindergarten is a good time to teach children to know and love God.

What did the Israelites do about the instructions Moses gave them? The book of Judges chronicles 400 years of history after the Israelites heard Moses speak, 400 years during which they entered and partly conquered the Promised Land, 400 years during which it is said of the moral climate in Israel,

In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. Judges 21:25

The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the Lord and did not serve him. Judges 10:6

As you notice in the first passage, the writer tries to blame Israel’s misbehavior on the lack of a king, but Israel’s history proved that kings were no guarantee of obedience to God. In the second passage, the writer lists gods of the people they were supposed to defeat and drive out, but instead of defeating those gods, the Israelites found them attractive. Before long, they were serving the gods of their enemies. They forsook God. Clearly, they were not talking of God when they lay down, when they got up, and when they were with their children. They were listening to someone else, not God, not God’s priests, not God’s judges. If every generation of Israelites had heard about God from the day they were born, they would have known him and served him, and history would be different.

The same thing is happening in the US. In ancient Israel, the parents were surrounded by the people of Canaan, whom God had told them to drive out. Those people served gods for whom an orgy could be an act of worship. Those gods could be manipulated with sacrifices, rituals, and magic words. Instead of turning to God who had brought them out of Egypt, the Israelites and their children worshiped gods that were more appealing. In the US today, the more appealing god is yourself. Do things for yourself. Satisfy yourself. Experiment with your sexuality and decide what makes you happy.

This is what secular thinkers are now teaching Christian children in kindergarten. Secular thinkers know the deep truth of what Moses said, and they are making sure they get their message for children engraved in their minds early. They say, “With these big ideas there are also very big words that are very hard to understand. I find that whether it’s kindergarten . . . [or] grade six, visuals help a lot.” The secularists who say that sex is for personal gratification, and teach that everyone should experiment and figure out what sort of sex is fun, think they are teaching big ideas with big words that require pictures for enhanced understanding.

They are right. They are right on all points. Small children are highly impressionable. Small children readily learn anything that is taught in appealing way. They love pictures and learn a lot from pictures. They want to please their teachers, and to please their teachers, they will act out behaviors encouraged by teachers. They do it when they are taught to think homosexuality is normal, and they do it when they are taught that Jesus loves them.

The problem for Christians is this: Secular thinkers are promoting the idea that teaching children that Jesus loves them is brainwashing. To teach a child to sing “Jesus Love Me” is brainwashing according to the secular worldview. The same secularist says that teaching children that homosexuality is normal makes the nation a better place. Jesus is a danger. Homosexuality is a good thing. Secular thinkers are turning the minds of children upside down.

Would it be so easy if the children already knew Jesus? Of course not. The question is—do the little children of Christian parents know Jesus? The answer lies in surveys by Barna and Pew, which reveal that the number of adults in the US who claim never to have had any religious connection at all is increasing side by side with the number of adults in the US who were exposed to religion as children but abandoned it at adulthood. I use the word exposed, because children who were dropped off at Sunday School as children, whenever Sunday School did not conflict with soccer, clearly do not get the morning, noon and night immersion in a life of faith that Moses imagined. On the other hand, children who hear about homosexuality in kindergarten, and ever thereafter, are immersed in news, books and public conversations that admire homosexuals and belittle Christians.

Christians must start teaching their children about Jesus in the cradle, and they must follow the admonition of Moses to live their faith night and day. That really should not be a problem. That is what Christians should be doing anyway. This is what Jesus told us to do—deny self and follow him. If Christians do this, they will be bringing up their children to know Jesus and the teachings of Jesus. Parents will pray in the sight of their children when life gets tough. Parents will pray with their children to give thanks for good things and ask for strength to endure bad things. The name of Jesus will be spoken reverently by parents and children alike, and the children will figure out for themselves that “omg” is not a respectful attitude toward God. Statistics tell us that fewer and fewer parents are doing these things. If Christians in the US want a different fate than that of the Israelites, a fate that was a natural consequence of their rejection of God, then Christians in the US need to stop acting like the Israelites. Statistics say that Christians are falling away from faithful worship, rejecting the Bible as a guide for faith and life, and engaging in mind-melds with various religions in what secularists celebrate as “interfaith dialogue.” Instead of standing as bright lights of truth before their children, Christian parents are chasing after the same fool’s gold and self-serving lies that attract their children. The children learn from the parents that it is important to “fit in” and “get along” and “don’t make waves.”

In public school, the children will inevitably hear all the secular teachings. Secularism dominates the public schools. If nobody has ever told them different, they will be vulnerable little children who want their teacher to praise them, and they will go along to get along. If they do not learn any different from their parents, they will do what their parents do—blend in with the surroundings. Do Christians want their children to grow up knowing how to stand strong for their faith, or do they want their children to fit in with secular culture?

Was Moses right? I say he was. What do you think?

By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.

Image: “Paris cimetière Montparnasse716” by GFreihalter – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paris_cimeti%C3%A8re_Montparnasse716.JPG#/media/File:Paris_cimeti%C3%A8re_Montparnasse716.jpg