“But my eyes are toward you, O GOD, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!” Psalm 141:8
So now we should understand the truths that GOD commands us to teach children, and that He has hardwired them to respond to and embrace this teaching when done well and in the context of loving relationships. We have stated that Satan also recognizes this and thus targets the children in an attempt to steal away a generation. We now understand that the Church must refocus its time, talent and treasure in response if we are to raise a generation that knows and fears the Lord.
“Only an estimated 3% of church budgets are dedicated to reaching and teaching children”
We know much more about ourselves and the way GOD has wired us as human beings. Next, if we are to be victorious, we must understand a bit more about the tactics of our adversary.
Why has Satan been so successful at getting to the children? What weakness of ours is he exploiting, what gaps in our defenses have been compromised?
As the Chinese General, Sun Tzu wrote in his classic, “The Art of War,” “So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”
Satan is “shaping” the battlefield
Whether we are discussing a street fight, modern military tactics, ancient city defenses or home protection, certain principles apply…. To be continued
Failure is not an option
I recently visited the Smithsonian Institutes Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport in Virginia. While browsing through the gift shop I got a kick out of an interesting shirt being sold. It had the following phrase emblazoned across the front, “Failure is NOT an option.” Next to that was written, “Apollo XIII Lunar Mission.” A truer thing has never been said. If they had failed it would have meant an awful death for the astronauts onboard and a great national tragedy.
That shirt got me thinking. What if we fail? What if the “best we can” isn’t good enough? What if we don’t invest appropriately in teaching our children and reaching the children around us with the gospel? The good news is we don’t have to theorize or guess about the repercussions of failure because it has happened before. Joshua, the great and faithful military leader of GOD’s people Israel, who led them into the Promised Land and defeated their enemies, failed in one very critical area as a leader. The tragedy unfolds in the book of Judges.
“After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. They forsook the LORD, the GOD of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various GODs of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger” Judges 2:10 -12
The consequences of failing to adequately teach the children is that they will “not know the Lord” and because of that lack of knowledge they will fall into the hands of this world system, turning their backs on the living GOD. The outcome for their families and communities is predictable. All of the time, talent and treasure we have invested in so many other important ministries directed toward adult people will be lost as the last member of that generation joins their ancestors. Is that the spiritual legacy we want to leave? Who will disciple the children, the people of GOD or the world?
Failure is not an option. The stakes are far too high.
So what is it exactly that the church has forgotten and needs to remember? I would submit the following statement for your consideration;
“It was he who gave…some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare GOD’s people (not just adults) for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Ephesians 4:11-12.
All people, in all stages of life, are loved by GOD unconditionally. It is GOD’s will, as is clearly and emphatically stated in scripture, that children be taught the deeper things of GOD by GOD’s people, primarily but not exclusively, the parents. From this we can draw some basic truths.
- People, in all stages of life, are of equal value to GOD
- Children who have trusted in Christ are NOT only the church of the future, they are the church of the present
- Children of the church need to be recognized as people of faith
- Children need to both contribute and receive as members of GOD’s family
- Children must be invited to participate as the church in fellowship, worship, prayer, learning of the Word and service.
- Children need to be changed by the love of Christ and share the Gospel in their context.
- Christian nurture and growth are for all and are the responsibility of all.
- Parents must be equipped within the church to fulfill their role as primary spiritual leaders of their children.
- Children respond in much greater percentages to the gospel than their adult counterparts and therefore should command at least as much attention in our missionary efforts (I will touch more on this in Part II)
- Our investments in time, talent and treasure should reflect our commitment to these truths. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34
- Our success can only be measured by the spiritual growth of the children in our sphere of influence