What is the value of an education? I think if you were to quiz most parents, teachers, and politicians their answers would be quite predictable. Education is a top priority in our culture and rightly so. A good education is one of the great building blocks of any healthy society and parents instinctively want to give their children the very best education possible. Before our first child (Ben) was entering Kindergarten, my wife and I had lengthy discussions about his future schooling endeavours. In fact, these discussions began much earlier (around the time he was born) and continue to this day. Early on as we conversed with friends, family and acquittances about schooling, we discovered that it was a very hot-button topic. We knew friends who were considering relocating to a different neighbourhood just so they could be close to their coveted public school. We knew others who grimaced at the thought of sending kids to public school and had strong opinions in favour or private school or home school.
The point being that almost everybody we talked to had formed ideas, opinions and convictions about their child’s education and we did not have to convince anyone that a good education was important. It seemed that every parent we encountered already greatly valued their child’s academic, athletic and artistic development.
But when it came to their spiritual development, it was a surprisingly different story.
Very few Christian families I have talked to over the years seem nearly as concerned about their child’s biblical education as they are about every other kind of education. Don’t get me wrong, they want their little “Johnny” or “Jane” to be saved and to have a relationship with Jesus. But many lack any kind of vision for a robust biblical education that impacts their child’s spiritual character, spiritual practices and worldview development. It simply isn’t on the radar for many people in our churches.
Very few Christian families seem nearly as concerned about their child’s biblical education as they are about every other kind of education.
This is evidenced by the way we view the role of the home and the church in training up our children. Too often, the children’s ministry at church is treated as a baby-sitting service or the church library is untouched by families. Often we just want the children to go away so that we, the adults, can learn in peace. We ship our kids off to Christian school, hoping that qualified professionals will do the work for us. Yet all the while our homes remain spiritually vacant, with perhaps a short “Jesus shout-out” at meal- time.
Is this what it looks like to provide a Gospel-education for our children? Who exactly is responsible for my child’s spiritual education and where does that take place?
God’s Word is clear that both the home and the church (see Deut 6:4-8) are the two contexts in which children are to “grow in grace in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). This is not to discredit Christian schools, but biblically speaking the home is the primary context for discipleship and the church is the extended and supportive context for that development. These two institutions are both critical because they are God-ordained institutions. God created the family (Gen 1:24-26; Eph 3:14) and Jesus is the head of His church (Eph 1:22-23). Therefore, God will require of parents and the church an account for how we fed his little lambs (John 21:15).
It should excite us that God chose to educate our kids in this fashion. Home and church are not merely academic-focused contexts for learning Christ. Rather, they are family-oriented contexts. That’s how God rigged it. He meant for children to learn Christ in the context of covenant acceptance and warm-hearted affection. So what is your vision for your child’s spiritual development?
Home and church are not merely academic-focused contexts for learning Christ. Rather, they are family-oriented contexts. That's how God rigged it.
Do you care about the curriculum your church uses or who is leading the Bible stories? Do you want your child not only to be saved but to learn how to think and act like Christ? Do you want them to be filled with God’s word and grow in grace and knowledge of their saviour who died for them?
As parents, we can not accomplish this without the help of God’s spirit, but we can develop a plan for biblical education at home and value and support the children’s ministry as a context for spiritual development.