Raising small children is indeed a sticky endeavor. In this case, sticky refers to memorable experiences that “stick” with your child throughout life. What I want to talk about specifically is making God, worship, Church, service and faith sharing a part of the precious memories of your children’s childhood. What can you do to make those memories special, fond ones? How can you help imprint those memories so that if your children are ever tempted to leave God and the Church, those memories call them back?
Here’s where I think a lot of people make a huge mistake. I don’t think it is about showmanship and entertainment. Parents with grown children can tell you the amount of money and “flash” doesn’t necessarily make for the clearest memories. We recently asked our daughter about some early trips we had taken when she was very young. We knew at the time her memories would be sparse, but consoled ourselves with the knowledge it was “creating wrinkles in her brain” (code at the time for increasing a child’s ability to learn later by exposing them to enriching things at a young age).
We have had a lot of fun with the kids at church this summer studying the Jewish holidays. It is a subject Christian children often never study, but those holidays tell us so much about the nature of God. As we studied them, we also realized they point to Jesus in really awesome ways.
Yesterday we learned about the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot). This is a great holiday to recreate with your children at home. Originally, the feast partially celebrated the late harvest. It lasted seven days (although a worship service/sacred assembly was also required on an eighth day). It was a feast of celebration – a thanksgiving for all of the blessings God had and would provide for them.
Remember the old string tied around the finger? Back when I was growing up, whenever we saw a string tied around a finger, we knew someone was supposed to remember something important every time they saw the string.
We want our children to read their Bibles regularly. We may not want to nag in an effort to avoid having the Bible seem like another chore for our kids instead of something they should treasure. So how about a fun memory jogger like the string?
Recently, we taught a group of children how God’s Words are sometimes referred to as honey (Psalm 119:103) or milk (I Peter 2:2) in the Bible. We explained honey meant God’s words are so special we should be as excited to read them as if someone gave us something sweet to eat like honey. The scripture in I Peter mentions how important milk is to a new little baby. God’s Words should be as important to us as milk is to a tiny baby.
Experts vary in their opinion slightly, but to be considered literate in the English language, a person should be able to functionally read and write on somewhere between the fifth and eighth grade levels. Anything below that may allow people to do some minor things, but to function well in society, one needs basically a middle school level of proficiency in English.
What about Bible literacy? What would God say is necessary to be considered literate in His commands and principles? Obviously, a knowledge of Jesus, your need for forgiveness and how to become a Christian (and obtain that forgiveness) would be the very basic level of Biblical literacy.
What about everything else in the Bible? Do our kids really need to know about all of those people and their lives? What about all of that “boring stuff” in the prophets? Should they read the Psalms, which just looks like a lot of poems or the letters in the New Testament, which are just someone’s mail?
What if I told you your child was only going to learn less than nine letters of the alphabet at school? If that is all your child ever learned, how well would they cope in the world? Would they struggle more than if they had learned the entire alphabet and could read more? Would the missing letters cause gaps in their knowledge?
A very conservative estimate is that there are 250-300 stories in the Bible. Some are only a verse or two. In addition, there are Psalms, Proverbs and other passages that would not exactly qualify as a story, but have tremendous meaning and wisdom to give us. Yet even if your children have Bible class twice a week for their entire childhood, in most cases they are getting less than 20% of the information in the Bible shared with them. Even children attending private Christian schools are not covering everything in the Bible.
Now if your child were only taught a percentage of the alphabet, at first you might attempt to get the school to step up and teach more. The parents who realized the value of knowing the entire alphabet wouldn’t wait for something to change. They would take the time to teach their children the missing letters so their kids would get everything they could out of life.