The Challenge For Christian Parents
“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.”
Judges 2:10 (NIV)
Have you ever heard of Robert Raikes? He was an Anglican evangelical who lived between1725-1811 and was the key promoter of the Sunday School movement. As editor of the Gloucester Journal he proposed the idea in an article in his Journal and was supported by many clergymen.
Sunday schools were first set up in the 1780s to provide education to working children on their one day off from the factory. They aimed to teach the youngsters reading, writing and give them knowledge of the Bible. By 1785, there were 250,000 English children attending Sunday School, and within decades the movement had become extremely popular. By the mid-19th century, Sunday school attendance was a near universal aspect of childhood. Even parents who did not regularly attend church themselves generally insisted that their children go to Sunday school.
Religious education was always also a core component of these schools. The Bible was the textbook used for learning to read, and many children learned to write by copying out passages from the Scriptures. Inculcating Christian morality and virtues was a goal of the schools. Included was teaching on a basic framework of Christian beliefs, prayer and hymn-singing.
I once read a statistic that said at the beginning on the 20th century 95% of children in Britain went to Sunday School but by the end of the 20th century 95% didn’t. Is it any wonder then that most kids today don’t know even rudimentary things about the Bible, like what are the 4 gospels; and certainly don’t know much, if anything, about who Jesus is? It is true that what one generation neglects, the next one quite possibly will reject.
While sending children to Sunday School helped teach them about Jesus and the Bible, that’s not to say the teaching of the Christian faith should be left to the Church or a Christian school. The responsibility for this task belongs primarily to the family. Because children learn so much by our example, the home offers the most effective place to pass on the faith to the next generation.
In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 it says, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God was letting His people know the importance of teaching their children about who God is, and what He had done for them.
The challenge for all Christian parents is not to neglect teaching their children about what God has done for them through Jesus—after all, we don’t want ‘another generation growing up that does not know the Lord’.
Father, please give all Christian parents a heart to want to teach their children about your Son, and may this teaching bear fruit in their lives.
Study by Barry Robinson
Worldwide Church of God Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Saturday 11 am
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