“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6
I realized many years ago that the responsibility of training our three children in the ways of the Lord belonged to me and my wife. For us, this included exposing them to a home of prayer, love, Christian commitment and an appreciation for attending our weekly worship services. These were the very disciplines we valued. They were learned from our parents and fore-parents. I am sure there are many persons who would argue that the “times” have changed and that parents should throw out many of the strict requirements of child rearing. I disagree. I believe basic training is needed now more than ever. We must keep in mind that it’s the kind of training which is not only taught but lived. In other words, the responsibility to train our children in the ways of the Lord should not be limited to what we say, rather what we do. Sometime ago I was drawn to this Old Testament scripture which I believe sheds light on this issue.
“Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon 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 door frames of your houses and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
I used those scripture passages as the basis for my Doctoral dissertation entitled: “Teaching Beyond Sunday Morning. Equipping parents and guardians to teach and model Christian discipleship principles at home with their children (3-10).” The research was conducted with parents and guardians at Harvest Christian Ministries, a church where I serve as pastor and founder. I taught six sessions in which I helped adults become more familiar with their Christian faith. This included such topics as salvation, prayer, faith, baptism and church history. After leading these sessions, I designed a biblically based 10-week curriculum for parents and guardians. They used the resources to teach their children at home. I was encouraged by the results of that study. We were all reminded of the need to teach and model our Christian faith and on a more consistent basis. The results from that study led to a greater sense of awareness, not only among parents and guardians, but the children whose lives were being transformed. A growing number of adults in our churches and communities also recognized the value of sharing and modeling their faith in the presence of children. There is an old African proverb which says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” I believe it’s our responsibility to not only live in the village but to take time and identify a child to help nurture in the things of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Tim Tooten, Sr. is the Pastor and founder of Harvest Christian Ministries in Baltimore County, Maryland