“Train up a child in the way he should go;
even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
This might sound odd or premature for someone to write about teaching children and training them to walk with God who has yet to be married and have children, let me defend myself. My parents, by the Grace of God have done and are doing an excellent job in training their children to walk with God. Not only have they understood this verse and applied it but they have also acted, not perfectly, according to what they promised when they had me and my siblings baptized:
Do you now unreservedly dedicate your child to God, and
promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will
endeavor to set before (him) a godly example, that you will
pray with and for (him), that you will teach (him) the
doctrines of our holy religion, and that you will strive, by all
the means of God’s appointment, to bring (him) up in the
nurture and admonition of the Lord?
To members of the Presbyterian Church in America (and even to those outside our denomination), I would ask you, “How are you acting upon what you promised before God and his saints what you would do?” Of course I would not expect you to do it perfectly but as I have grown up in the church and seen how other parents deal with their children in comparison to mine, I see some common areas where we need to return to our vows and examine ourselves. The primary issue is within Sunday worship and honestly what I see scares me. Children will always react to their parents teaching, either they will by the grace of God react well and follow in their parents footsteps in rearing their children in a godly manner or they will rebel and run from it. Being in the church for so long, I have seen both and through it, God has taught me how to rightly honor my parents and react to their teaching. I’ll be honest; there have been times when I haven’t agreed to my father’s teaching but I’ve done it anyway out of duty and it has been for my good and other times when I didn’t listen and it did me harm. I thank the Lord for giving me wonderful Godly wise parents who have been faithful to me and my siblings.
In Sunday worship the biggest thing I have seen which bothers me is when parents don’t make it a habit of attending the regular preaching of the Word and I fear make a bad example for their children down the line. Sunday Worship, especially the preaching of the Word, is so crucial in our walk with Christ that to make a habit of “skipping” corporate worship is like missing a day’s worth of meals. That’s how serious I think it is. I have known some who will stay at home and watch or listen to a sermon online or on the radio but I don’t believe that’s the same. The fellowship we experience at church with the saints is also very helpful in giving us spiritual nourishment. For parents to make habits of skipping worship is a bad habit for children who will learn to do as their parents did. As I grew up, my parents kept us in the normal church worship service, a practice which trained us to concentrate on the corporate worship of God and how we are to worship Him. I remember there was a period in my life when I did not pay attention to the preaching of the Word when I was younger but there came a time when I did pay attention to the sermons and that was influential in my becoming a Christian. I know other parents in my church back home who have begun training their children for corporate worship when they were quite young. In effect, these children are growing in their knowledge and love of the Lord even as young children. In contrast, There are some parents who keep their children in nurseries or Sunday schools until the children graduate high school, thus starving them from exposure to the proper worship of the Lord and the preaching of His Word. I would encourage parents to keep your children in church, even at a young age, so that they learn to be quiet and how to worship the Lord. Sunday Schools and nurseries are helpful but they shouldn’t replace the corporate worship of the Lord for children.
In addition to teaching children a right manner of approaching and engaging church worship, there is another aspect of training your child to walk with the Lord. The chief motive for teaching children how to read should be learn how to read the Bible so that they and may know and glorify the Lord. Another way to augment that is by teaching children the catechism. The Westminster Shorter Catechism is an excellent means of teaching children to learn and apply the truths found in Sacred Scripture. In fact, not only I encourage this but wiser men who have written the constitution for the PCA.
I hope this post helps, encourages, and challenges you to be a Christlike figure to your children so that they in turn may apply this to themselves and their children. Such is how the kingdom of God built and the Church strengthened. Train them in the way they should go according to the Word of God and they will walk in it.