“How do you teach theology to a young child?” I was recently asked this question, and it makes an excellent topic, so today I am beginning a “Theology for Kids” series on my blog.
What is Theology
“Theology” is a fancy word for the study of God. It comes from two Greek words: theos, which means “god,” and logos, which means “word,” or “the treating of.” Strictly speaking, theology is the word of God, or the treating of God. In its modern definition, theology is “the study of God and of God’s relation to the world” (definition accessed here January 22, 2017).
A lot of people are afraid of theology – they think it belongs in the realms of the pastor’s study, the professor’s office, or the seminary. But if you are a Christian, theology is your life. Theology is your life. It is how you interact with the world because of what you know about God.
Parenting Goal: Kids Who Know Truth
If you are a parent, you want your child to view the world through the lens of the Truth, to have a biblical worldview, to not only know right from wrong, but also how to discern right from almost right. That is a monumental task, but if you approach it like any other parenting goal, you can achieve it.
Think about teaching your child to eat. You begin with milk, because a toothless baby with no motor skills needs to be held and fed liquid nutrition. Soon, though, almost before you are ready, he needs soft solid foods, fed to you by a spoon. Little by little you increase the “solidness” of the food, and you increase how much control he has over feeding himself.
Theology is no different. You begin by feeding your child milk, move on the soft solids that you control, and gradually you allow your child more solid nutrition while allowing him more and more control over how and what he is learning. I will show you how to do this throughout this series.
You are the Role Model
However, before you can even begin to feed your child, you, yourself, must be fed. You are the role model. You are your child’s goal. He looks at you to see what a grown up Christian is supposed to be doing. Today’s assignment is to evaluate the model you are setting for your child.
- Does your child see you pray? Does your child hear you pray, other than at mealtimes or at church?
- Does your child see you read your Bible, other than at church?
- Does your child see you make church attendance the priority around which your family’s week is structured?
- Does your child see you react to stressful situations with godly behavior?
- Does your child see you interact with fellow believers outside of the walls of your local church?
- Does your child know that they can ask you questions, even if your answer is a genuine, “I don’t know; let’s see what the Bible says!”?
- Does your child see you repent for sin and ask for forgiveness, especially when you have sinned against him?
These questions are certainly not exhaustive, but they are a good place to start. Self-reflection is never a bad thing, unless it becomes a narcissistic practice. Don’t spend too much time on this; just do a quick, honest self-check. Ask God to reveal to you the areas that need work, and commit to working on them.
You know how parenting works: “Do as I say, not as I do” is never a successful philosophy.
The Good News
At this point, some of you are thinking you’ve already blown it. You think you don’t do any of the things mentioned above. Maybe you yell at your kid a lot (guilty!), or you yell at other drivers a lot (me!), or you’d rather skim social media than open your Bible (hey, that would be me, too).
It’s not too late. Start today. Ask God for forgiveness. Plead for His help. Begin modeling the kind of behavior you want to see instilled in your children.
(but do not expect them to change overnight. or yourself. let’s be real, here. change takes time, right?)
God will hear your prayers and answer them. He is incredibly faithful like that! Next Monday (Lord willing) we will begin with practical ways to teach theology to your kids, starting with the youngest! Let me know how I can pray for you!
***this article is cross-posted today at Satisfaction Through Christ***