Kids thrive on variety in education
Gary O’Flannagan, pastor, Cornerstone Southern Baptist Church, 802 W. 22nd St.:
The Bible says in Deuteronomy 11:19, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
God had Moses teach the people of Israel that as families they were to teach their children the things of God — meaning God’s word, what is called today the Old Testament. God wanted this because he knew they would learn religious teachings from somewhere, usually from the culture they would be living in, which in reality is no help at all for personally knowing and relating to God in a faith relationship.
So I believe that the parents are meant to be the initiators of faith education with their children. After all, they know their children and the stage of development their child is at. The parent also has a connection that outsiders do not have — the family relationship.
Today in the United States, many churches introduce children to faith through small groups such as Sunday school or other children’s programs. The small-group environment allows children to learn about faith incrementally, at a rate that fits their emotional and learning abilities. Children as all people like to learn through a variety of methods and styles, so an organized incremental approach is helpful, meets their educational needs and takes in account the child’s ability to learn.
But the best way to introduce your child to faith is to live your faith openly and honestly, and allow them to learn from you as you exercise your faith. Then they will see if it is truly valid and worthy of acceptance for themselves. Jesus said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14).
— Send e-mail to Gary O’Flannagan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Children learn best by example
Jesse Brinson, youth director at Midwest Student Ministries, 998 N. 1771 Road:
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” When we hear this verse, we may ask ourselves what’s a good way to introduce them to faith. I believe a good way to introduce a child to faith is through ways they can comprehend.
Being a father of one biological 16-month-old son — and with a child on the way — it seems my son wants to do everything I want to do. If I’m on the computer, he wants to be on the computer. If I’m eating Cheerios, he wants to eat Cheerios. If I sit down to read my Bible, he wants to be in my lap ripping pages.
But it’s times like these, when I’m sitting and reading my Bible, that I take the time to introduce him to faith. I begin reading to him the verse I’m reading to not only develop his word vocabulary but also to give him something more valuable. I think one of the best ways a child can comprehend faith is by example. I am setting an example that says he should take the time to discover the God that created him.
As he grows, he is going to ask questions, and his mom and I will make ourselves available to help him discover truth. Does that mean he is going to understand everything I’m saying or doing? No, but my son doesn’t understand the fundamentals of reading when I’m teaching him ABCs or reading to him. He also doesn’t understand the chest pass, but hopefully one day he can lead his team in assists. The point I’m making is he is a child and I’m his parent, if he was born understanding, then he wouldn’t need me as a parent to train and introduce him to faith.
By the way, my son loves carrying his “Read and Learn Bible.”
— Send e-mail to Jesse Brinson at email@example.com.