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Where Children Learn About the Church

Psalms 78:5-7 reminds us the great task of telling and teaching the younger generation God's ways and Word falls first upon parents: For He established a testimony in Jacob, And appointed a law in Israel, Which He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children, That they may set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God, But keep His commandments." Parents, your children are watching the way you live and listening to the words you speak. What are you telling/teaching them about the church?

Things we say to our children can backfire on us. One little girl noticed several strands of grey in her mother's mostly brown hair. She asked, "Why are some of your hairs grey, Mom?" The mother replied, "Well, every time you disobey and do something you shouldn't, one of my hairs turns grey." The little girl reflected for a moment and then said, "Momma, is that why ALL of Grandma's hairs are grey?" Ouch! Our children are looking and listening, even when we don't realize it. A children's church song says, "Oh be careful little mouth what you say." The reason why? "For the Father up above is looking down in love, So be careful little mouth what you say." Would it be proper, then, to amend that song for adults in the church (especially parents and grandparents) to sing, "Oh be careful big mouth what you say?" Maybe so, for not only is the Father up above looking on and listening in to what big mouths say, but the children who live in our houses and ride in our cars are listening in, too. Not only listening, but looking and remembering. As Paul Faulkner writes, "A child is a little video camera on legs" (Raising Faithful Kids in a Fast Paced World, p 74). That's a funny thought, but also a frightening one, for they see and hear the good, the bad, and the ugly in their parents. Parents need to be careful of the things they do and the words they say, because what is recorded likely will play back in the child's life, often for the rest of his/her life. As Faulker says, "You'll get to see a replay of that video when you are about forty and your children are grown — you'll see them imitating you in their lives" 74).

A principle stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1 has special application for parents who want their children to love the church --- "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." Parents, you don't have to tell your kids to imitate you. They will. Like wet cement — whatever falls on them makes an impression, good or bad. Wise parents realize they cannot escape teaching their children about the church. We teach by example, and impressions that may well last a lifetime are being made daily. What are your children learning about the church and her elders and preachers and deacons and song leaders and Bible class teachers and the good people who sit on the pews? What impressions are you leaving on the wet cement of their moldable minds? You can't convince them you love the church if you talk like you loathe it; you can't teach them it is important if you act like it is irrelevant. Whatever they are learning, the naked, and perhaps uncomfortable truth is they are learning it primarily from you. Will your children love the church?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ