A Parents’ Guide to beginning Catechesis
or put more simply,
How do I teach my small child about God?
Part I An introduction
By Mary Abrahamson
Parents, and father’s especially, have a great responsibility before God with regard to the christian upbringing of their children. It’s quite daunting.
Many of us grew up without a strong example of Christian leadership in the home. Many grow up without the example of a father who takes a leadership role in the vital area. And more troublesome yet, in this day and age, some of us have not grown up with a father in the home at all.
This series of articles is written to help. To encourage. To show the basics. To give you a starting point. And yes, to condemn. We all fail to do this as well as we ought. We need to recognize our failings. And repent. And trust in God’s infinite love and forgiveness for Jesus’ sake.
We all want to see our children in heaven. As a first step, we Lutheran parents usually baptize our children soon after birth. Many of us at least get that step done.
But in the excitement of such a precious bundle of joy, in the busy lives we lead, in all the opportunities we want to offer our kids while they are growing up, we forget to make God’s Word and our child’s eternal salvation the most important thing in our day to day lives.
We make sure our children have diapers and toys and food. We make sure they get play dates with friends. When they’re a little older sign them up for classes or clubs or teams in various sports, dance, music and other opportunities. We highlight their accomplishments and successes in such things. We sometimes drive ourselves crazy shuttling our children here there and everywhere, in the name of being a good parent.
And yes, many of us try to get the kids to Sunday school and church most of the time. Diligent parents even work with them on any assigned memory work. When the children are older they go to confirmation class. And if we have an opening in our busy schedule, we might even make them go to church related youth activities. But sadly, more and more, these churchly activities take second place to all the other seemingly important things to do in this busy life.
But stop and think!
What good will that extra sports camp or piano recital or county fair activity do, if our child doesn’t have the knowledge or habits to ensure eternal salvation. None of us would withhold bread from our hungry children. But sadly, it’s all too easy to starve our child or children of the Bread of Life. This Bread of Life is the very food we all need to get to heaven.
We often don’t stop to think that eternal damnation in hell awaits those who don’t have faith in Jesus as the only way to heaven.
Christian training is given to the parents, and particularly to the fathers. Churches often offer confirmation classes, Sunday school classes, VBS programs, and other learning opportunities. But it’s all too easy to forget that this is not really where our kids get their most foundational Biblical learning.
That foundation must be laid in the home. On a daily basis. With a consistent example.
And more sobering yet, perhaps is the flip side of that foundation
If our foundation, the thing on which we spend most of our time and energy and focus and priority, if this is not God’s Word, what is it? What is the example of foundation that we show our children in our day to day choices.
Because that is exactly what our children will grow up knowing. Anything other than God’s Word and our salvation, which we allow to slip into first place, these things will be the foundation our children see. And upon which our children will tend to build their lives.
And their eternities.
God bless you in your work. Repent when you fail your children. You will. We all do. Accept God’s forgiveness for such sin. This is an example your children will see, too. Not only will they see the mistakes you make, but more importantly, they will see the basic truth acted out in real time, in your life, of repentance, confession, and absolution for Jesus’ sake.