Updated: Jul 5
This is not a topic that I normally talk about on my blog but it has really been on my heart lately as a parent of five (soon to be six) young children. I hope that sharing my story and what I've been learning will encourage other parents to be proactive in leading their children in the way of the Lord.
When our first child was only six months old we were watching TV one night while she sat in her high chair. An ad came on the television that was so awful that I immediately turned her high chair around so as not to "expose her to the evil". After several times of having to turn her chair around my husband and I looked at each other and said, "What are we doing?!"
Our world is getting darker by the day and we are all slowly being desensitized to it. We are constantly bombarded with messages of sexual immorality, hate, violence and evil. I stopped going to the mall years ago because of the half naked people on all the billboards and I refuse to take my kids there for that very reason. I don't need my young boys struggling with images they can't get out of their mind after being exposed to them. What happened to protecting our children's innocence?
My husband and I were convicted that day to get rid of our TV service (and only keep the TV to watch movies we knew were good). Let me tell you what a life-changing decision that was for us! Sure it was hard at first because it seemed like watching TV was all we did every night to unwind. We had our favorite shows (that seemed harmless) and we enjoyed relaxing together on the couch while watching them. At first we didn't know what to do so we would spend more time on our computers (that's actually when I started this website and my store).
It has ended up being a huge blessing in our lives. We no longer fill our minds with the garbage that's on TV that we had come to accept as ok. We spend a lot more quality time together talking and having real conversations. We are more productive in our work lives because we are not wasting valuable time watching TV and best of all we are spending more time in the Word. Our marriage has grown stronger as our relationships with the Lord have deepened. I am so thankful to God for helping us make this decision almost 8 years ago now. (Full disclosure: we have since gotten Apple TV so my hubby can watch sports. GRR! Still working on that one ;)
I think we often use the excuse that we are "too busy" for other important things like spending quality time with God and family when if we really evaluate what we are so "busy" doing we may see that we have our priorities out of order. So that brings me to the question, "Why are so many children walking away from their faith as adults?"
Obviously our world with all its messages of immorality and self-centeredness doesn't make it easy for children to keep their faith. Many well-meaning Christian families are trying to teach their children about God and how to have a relationship with Jesus. We read our children stories from a children's Bible and send them to Sunday school. So why are they walking away from the faith when they grow up?
A while back the Answers in Genesis ministry conducted a nation-wide survey to find out. If you get a chance you should watch their video called, "Already Compromised" to learn more. Basically they discovered that many of the children who walked away from their faith were taught all the Bible stories but the word "stories" these days often refers to fairy tales or made up stories. As these children grew up and headed off to college they were challenged by their professors and others on the validity of these "stories". Many of them had never been taught the "how or why" behind the story. For example, "How did Noah fit all the animals in the ark?" They were not taught how to defend their faith.
There was one key element that came up with all those who had NOT walked away from their faith that those who DID were missing. Those who did not walk away were taught apologetics or how to defend their faith. Why we believe what we believe. So later when their beliefs were challenged they were not confused but had full confidence in what they believed and could defend their faith.
So how do we teach our children apologetics? Great question! The first place to start is always the Bible. What does God's Word teach us. It's not enough to teach our children the popular Bible stories. We need to dig into the hard concepts and have deep discussions with them. One way that we do this in our home is through a Bible study that we attend each week called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) International. It is a great Bible study that gives you verses to read each week and questions to answer based on those verses. You really dig into the Word and the questions make you think about what the verses are really teaching and how you can apply them to your life. I love that they have infant through adult classes so all my kids can learn alongside me.
I remember just recently my kids and I were doing our Bible study lesson together and a rich discussion unfolded. We had read about how the people's hearts were hardened and they crucified Christ on the cross. I asked my kids, "Why in the world would God allow the people's hearts to be hardened so they would kill His son?" "If Jesus is really God why would he willingly die for us? Couldn't he just make things right without having to die?" This led to a discussion on how God created us in His image and He loves us. He didn't want us to be robots that just did whatever He said so He gave us free will to choose to follow Him or not.
Sadly, we all choose to sin and disobey Him. Because He is holy and just He cannot tolerate sin. He says the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). This is why the Israelites had to constantly offer sacrifices for their sins. These blood sacrifices would cover their sins but then they'd sin again and have to offer another sacrifice. There has never been anyone who was ever without sin; a perfect substitute to pay the penalty for our sins...until Jesus! Jesus never sinned. He came to pay the price for our sins. Like someone paying our fine so we can go free. So why did God allow the people's hearts to be hardened so they would kill Jesus? Because He knew that was the only way anyone could be saved. Jesus had to die to pay the penalty for our sins. He was the perfect lamb without defect that would pay the price for our sins once and for all. All we have to do is believe in Jesus (John 3:16). For He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6.
I love how God in His great mercy later brought many of those same men and women who were calling for Jesus crucifixion to salvation in Acts 2. He softened their hearts and opened their eyes to the truth and then forgave them for killing His son. Amazing!
Ok sorry I'm going off on a complete tangent here but you get my point of the importance of daily Bible study and asking our children the hard questions and being prepared to answer them. That's another thing...if you don't know the answer to your child's question be honest with them and say, "That's a great question, I don't know the answer to it but let's look at what the Bible says." or "I am going to look into that and get back to you." Then follow through and get back to them with your findings.
Some great resources I have found for teaching apologetics, besides the Bible of course, are the following.
1. "The Answers Book for Kids Series" by Ken Ham. These books are a compilation of questions sent in by kids about the Bible like the question mentioned above, "How could Noah fit all the animals in the ark?" Ken Ham gives Bible verses along with an explanation followed by more verses to look up on the topic. You can do a question a day with your kids in about 5 minutes a day.
2. "The Way of the Master for Kids" by Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort. This picture book is really two books in one - one for preschool children and one for primary age children. It teaches children how to share and defend their faith. It answers tough questions like if God is so good why does He allow suffering in this world (or allow bad things to happen to good people)?
3. Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) International. As mentioned above this is a great Bible study that helps you and your children dig into the Word. The best part is that it is international so you can most likely find a group near you. I highly recommend it!
4. "Leading Little Ones to God" by Marian Schoolland. This is a great book for little children. I remember reading about the meaning of baptism with my children and a few days later my daughter asked to be baptized.
5. "Scientific Facts in the Bible" by Ray Comfort. A friend of mine recently told me about this fascinating book; great for older children. It takes you through different scientific discoveries and explains how the Bible predicted them years before they were discovered.
6. Pray for your children! I know a mother who has 10 children and once a week she fasts and prays for each of her children. And I must say her children are all really great kids who are living for the Lord. Wow! I want to be like that mother! This is an area I'd like to improve in. Proverbs 27:23-24 (NLT) says, "Know the state of your flocks, and put your heart into caring for your herds, for riches do not last forever, and the crown may not be passed to the next generation." Talk about convicting!
And one final thought when using other resources (than the Bible) to teach apologetics remember to always confirm what you've read with the Bible. Humans are flawed and don't always interpret the Bible with 100% accuracy. Be sure to rely on the Holy Spirit to speak the truth to you through His word.
Let's change these statistics and help lead the next generation into a faith that lasts! If you have any other great resources on teaching apologetics I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.
Please help us to lead these precious little ones you have entrusted to our care to a saving faith in you. Give us wisdom to teach them how to defend their faith. Help us lead by example and fill us and them with your Holy Spirit so that we can accurately interpret your Word and share our faith with others. Thank you for loving us so much that you were willing to die for us. We love you Jesus!
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