Teach your children well

The title, of course, comes from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, but the theme is as old as history, going back at least to Deuteronomy 6. Unfortunately, too often the church does a poor job of this. It’s not that the curricula we use aren’t effective—most of those that I know are; nor is it that they don’t teach children good things, for those which I’ve used certainly do. Nor am I saying that churches use them poorly, for though I’m sure a notable percentage of churches do, I have no reason to think that that’s broadly true. I can, however, second the point that John Walton recently made on the Zondervan Academic blog: most of our curricula in the American church do a brutally lousy job with Scripture. Dr. Walton does a good job of laying out the ways in which common American curricula misuse, misinterpret and misapply the Word of God, and especially of hammering home the reason why we should care:

If we are negligent of sound hermeneutics when we teach Bible to children, should it be any wonder that when they get into youth groups, Bible studies and become adults in the church, that they do not know how to derive the authoritative teaching from the text?We all have a working hermeneutic, even though most have never taken a course. Where do we learn it? We learn it from those we respect. For many people this means that they learn their hermeneutics from their Sunday school teachers. Teachers in turn teach what is put into their hands. Perhaps we ought to be more attentive how Sunday school curriculum is teaching our children to find the authoritative teaching of God in the stories.

Posted in Children, Church and ministry, Discipleship, Education, Religion and theology, Uncategorized.

6 Comments

  1. Very good article, thank you for linking to it. I just passed along the link to our children’s pastor.

    Some of the lessons in the curriculum I work with do a good job, but others certainly fail in some of the ways he talks about. It’s bothered me when I taught them; now I have something to point to that can make the point better than I could about why it bothers me.

  2. Cute, Doug. Not “a singular“; certainly, for many texts, there are differences of opinion on that. (For many others, though, there really aren’t.) The point is this: do you know how to get after what the text is really about, or not? And on that point, I’m not worried about you. :p

  3. LOL . . .

    Seriously, I don’t agree with a lot of your conclusions, you know that, just as you don’t agree with a lot of mine–but when it comes to reaching them, I don’t see that you make any more mistakes than most of the rest of us. 🙂

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