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Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.
Evangelizing children and training them in godly precepts is indeed tough. Truth be told, discipleship (whether at home or church) like any apprenticeship can actually be dull, tedious, and hard. In fact the results of mastering the doctrines taught may not necessarily be immediate. But this does not mean we ought to take short cuts nor does it mean we should slacken up by bringing in these bells and whistles to create a “fun environment” or cushioning the seats in church (though there is nothing necessarily wrong with that). Starr Meade makes a good point …
When it comes to evangelizing our children, I suggest that the best thing we can do is to provide diligent, systematic teaching, both of redemption history (Bible stories) and doctrinal truth (what God meant to communicate through those stories). It will take years to evangelize children through such involved teaching-but then, God entrusts them to us for years, doesn’t he? Great trees require years to grow, but they stand strong, resistant, and fruitful through decades.
Reading or telling our children the stories God gave us will not seem too difficult a task. But how do we glean from a book as large and as adult as the Bible those doctrinal truths our children need to know? And how do we go about explaining those truths in simple, concise language? And then how do we arrange those simply explained truths in some kind of logical order where one doctrine builds upon another and the sense of the whole becomes clear? I have good news for you: all that work has been done for you, and by some of the best Bible scholars the church has ever produced. The fruit of their labor goes by the name of a “catechism” (or “instructional guide”). A catechism contains a number of important questions about basic Christian doctrine, all arranged in a logical, orderly fashion, to which children (or adults!) memorize the answers. Two of the very best are the Westminster Shorter Catechism and the Heidelberg Catechism. Either of these makes an excellent and effective tool for evangelizing and teaching children and teens.
Children growing up in most of our Evangelical churches display a worryingly high level of biblical illiteracy and and appalling lack of understanding of basic doctrinal truths (or even the gospel). No wonder they fall away easily when they leave home or go to University.
Oh, how I wish the seats in our churches were a little firmer! Well, I actually don’t know if that would change the tide. Maybe I should just pray that God should have mercy on us all and send a revival in my time.
Nothing less will do!