“How do you teach theology to a young child?” I was recently asked this question. Today is part two of my “Theology for Kids” series.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is one of the best scriptural guides for teaching theology to kids:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (ESV)
God Himself tells the Israelites how to talk to their children about Him and His Word: frequently and thoroughly. This concept easily extends to us, and we can use this as a guide for talking to our own children about theological things.
Teach Them Diligently
God commands parents to teach “these things” diligently. “These things” are defined in the earlier part of Deuteronomy. Essentially God is talking about what becomes the Scriptures – His Law. That, of course, becomes part of the entire canon of what is now our Bible. If you’ve never read the early part of Deuteronomy, I encourage you to stop and do so right now. God has given his Law, which explains who “I AM” is, to Moses, who has handed it down to the people. He is now encouraging them to teach it to their children diligently.
Mirriam-Webster defines “diligently” as characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort. Teaching your children about God takes effort – energetic effort. It is not something that happens accidentally or by happenstance.
God commands us to teach our children about Him diligently. With effort. Energetically. Enthusiastically. Earnestly. With steadfastness. But God doesn’t give us random commands we aren’t capable of following. He follows up this command by telling us how to teach our children diligently.
Talk About God Frequently
God wants us to talk to our children all the time. Look again at the verses above, and you’ll catch a glimpse of the frequency with which God expects to be mentioned:
- When you are sitting at home (hanging out, eating, playing board games, watching television, etc.)
- When you are walking by the way (taking a walk, driving somewhere, out and about in the community)
- When you lie down (at bedtime)
- When you rise (first thing in the morning, perhaps at breakfast)
- Bind them on your hands (carry Scripture around with you; interesting in today’s smart phone day and age, isn’t it?)
- Be as frontlets between your eyes (memorize Scripture; Israelites would strap little boxes with scrolls of Scripture in them onto their foreheads)
- Write Scripture on your door posts (the walls of your home)
- Write Scripture on your gates (cover your home with Scripture)
I’ll be the first to admit that “God talk” doesn’t come naturally, probably because we are sinners. Yet if we want our children to develop a biblical worldview, this is the best thing we can do for them: talk to them about God all the time.
Paul David Tripp writes this in his book Parenting:
God has met you so that you would be ready to introduce his glory and grace to your children. Every day is filled with opportunities to point to God, maybe in the fact that water boils, that leaves turn, and that the sun comes up in the morning, or maybe in the power of the storm, the taste of a steak, the beauty of a sunset, or the honey from a bee; all these things exist and are held together only because God created and controls the physical world. God has opened your eyes to his presence and glory so you could help open the eyes of your children. So capture the opportunities around you to point to him. Don’t let a day pass without doing it and don’t feel that it’s weird to talk about God all the time. (Parenting: The 14 Gospel Principles That can Radically Change Your Family, page 32)
What am amazing encouragement! All we need to do is open our eyes and begin to really see God’s glory and grace. Then we just point it out to our children. And again, I am the first to admit that this does not come naturally.Your child points out a bug, a cloud, the way the light is streaming through the window and the dust is dancing around…your first thoughts are probably not to aim him toward God’s creation.
Yet that is where we need to go! Our goal as parents should be to work toward steering every possible opportunity to pointing out God’s attributes:
- Look at the that bug! Isn’t it amazing how God created their shells to protect them?
- Look at that cloud! Isn’t it amazing that God created clouds in the sky for so many reasons?
- You should apologize to your friend for being mean. God tells us to love one another, and to treat one another how we want to be treated.
- You really should forgive her for saying that to you. God tells us He forgives us because we forgive others.
- I know you’re angry right now. Anger isn’t a sin, but you can easily sin in your anger. Let’s talk about positive ways to manage your anger, and maybe look at what the Bible says about when it’s okay to be angry.
- I know you’re scared right now. Hey! Did you know the Bible says 365 times “Do not be afraid?” Why do you think that is?
Now, I will also be honest…you have to have knowledge of God in these situations. You cannot teach your child about someone you don’t know. This will also take practice. Your words may be awkward at first; you might stumble over your own tongue.
I suggest starting as soon as they’re born 😉 Barring that…begin today, my friend!
Start working God into your daily conversations. It will become more natural as time passes. But here is where I issue the warning. Next will come the questions…and that will be next week!
***the article is cross-posted today at Satisfaction Through Christ***