Considering all the spiritual lessons a child should be taught so they develop a healthy, lifelong relationship with Christ can be overwhelming. Where to begin? Genesis? The New Testament Gospels? The fruit of the Spirit? The Ten Commandments? Individuals who journeyed with God? For those who carry children’s ministry roles in the local church, a scope and sequence chart is a key tool and guideline for what a child should learn in their formative years as lesson plans are created and taught with intentionality. In systematic teaching, one spiritual truth builds upon another. But throw a COVID-19 pandemic into the mix, with all its lockdowns and restrictions on gathering, and ministry to the next generation gets turned upside down and inside out. Many a next gen leader is left wondering not only what to do, but how, and perhaps even when. Yet the responsibility for discipling the next generation doesn’t rest solely on the shoulders of church leadership. In this pandemic, children’s leaders have found themselves coming alongside parents in greater ways than ever before to equip and resource them in their duty as the primary spiritual nurturers—the teachers in the home. So what does it look like in our current context to raise godly kids? Although our world has changed dramatically, the rules given by God to the Israelites really don’t look much different today than they did years ago.
If you have not read Deuteronomy 6 during this unique season we’ve been in, I strongly encourage you to do so. This chapter speaks so directly about passing on God’s commands, decrees and laws from one generation to the next. Statements like “be careful,” “obey so that it may go well with you,” “Fear the LORD [and] serve him only,” “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight,” and “do not forget the LORD” could not be clearer or more direct.
Young, inquisitive minds are always asking questions. Moses knew that even the Israelite children would inquire about the rules put in place by God. Kids ask “Why?” all the time. Deuteronomy 6:20-25 is one of those ultimate Q & A moments where God uses Moses to equip parents by giving them the response to their children’s questions—even before they ask. He instructs parents to tell the children about the signs and wonders—both great and terrible—that Egypt and Pharoah and their households needed to face. He encourages them to speak of the goodness they experienced as the mighty hand of God brought them through troublesome times and out of Egypt. He wanted them to share their personal story of how God gave them the land He had promised so they could see and experience a new day. And in verse 25, Moses says, “It will be a set-right and put-together life for us if we make sure that we do this entire commandment …” (The Message).
So, when you don’t know what to do and you feel like your world (and maybe even your home) has been turned upside down, heed the instructions the Lord gave. Fear and frustration are plaguing kids’ minds as they battle pandemic complexities and spend endless hours in their rooms alone, whether online for school or finding ways to entertain themselves. Yet family life isn’t meant to be lived in isolation. As Deuteronomy 6 instructs, impress the commandments of God on your children. Spend time together. Talk about them when you are sitting at home and when you’re out for a walk. Don’t walk alone. And it’s equally important to do so when you are lying down. Find those teachable moments on the family couch and grab them. Keep a children’s Bible open nearby and even some “Making the Bible Come Alive” character cards. Talk about what godly character looks and sounds like. Learn from people in the Scriptures. Tell the stories of the goodness of God in everyday life. Help your children manage and balance their online viewing times, evaluating content and considering what is best for feeding the soul.
And then there’s bedtime. As a child, I recall being encouraged to kneel at my bedside to pray—what a way to stay focused and not fall asleep. Reverence, respect and sincerity are often taught through body posture. Consider Paul’s posture while praying for the faithful in Ephesus (Ephesians 3:14-19) or his prayer time on the beach with fellow disciples and their families (Acts 21:1-6). Jesus also modelled this posture of prayer for us when going to the Father (Luke 22:39-46).
Ask the Lord to help you intentionally and creatively pass along a faith that is vibrant and alive, coming from a heart that is well-grounded (2 Timothy 2:15) and well-guarded (Proverbs 4:23). Allow the truths of God’s Word to overflow from the wellspring within you—both in the daytime and nighttime hours. Let your children see an obedient and authentic heart, postured in worship and prioritizing the Word. That real-life picture is a strong and influential indicator of your love for Christ (John 14:23). Do life together with your children the Deuteronomy 6 way.
Natalie Rogge serves at the PAOC International Office as director of communications and the strategic manager for Mission Canada. Her passion for passing faith along to the next generation is seen through her local church involvement and as she leads the national Children’s Guiding Group, leaning in on the most recent online curriculum project, “Making the Bible Come Alive.”
This article appeared in the July/August/September 2021 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2021 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash.