The Second Generation
by: Wayne Schatzle
Church dynamics are pretty much the same across denominational lines. They share the same goals and concerns regardless of the difference in doctrines and beliefs. The chief concern of every church is keeping their children in the faith after they reach adulthood. Most groups will have bible classes for the youth and several field trips to keep them interested. Churches of greater size will host a school where they will learn of church teachings and have friends of their faith as they grow. Even the best efforts seem to fall short of the goal of keeping all the kids. Indeed it is an age-old problem and not easily solved.
When studying ancient Israel in the pages of the bible we can uncover a reason for this. Notice Judges 2, where we read of the generation of Joshua’s time passing away and the next generation arose that did not know the Lord nor had seen the works of God, and they forsook the Lord of their fathers and served the SAME gods that got their forefathers in trouble! Amazingly it says in verse 17, “they would not listen to the judges and they turned QUICKLY from the way in which their fathers walked in obeying the Lord”. Actually it seems that every other generation in the book of Judges went through hard times because they failed to listen to the instructions of their fathers. I am thinking there should be a lesson to America as we are so driven to eliminate God from our culture and may reap the woes that old Israel did when they forgot God.
I have seen this too many times when a non-religious couple will repent and turn to God- change their style of living and cast evil habits from them then set about to study how God would have them live and teach to their kids God’s way rather than the world’s. When their children will reach adulthood, they do not know the bitter taste of forbidden fruit and decided to try it for themselves and reap the consequences.
There is reported an ancient Jewish proverb, “Learn and Live”. It makes good sense to first learn HOW to live and experience a joyous problem free life. But usually it is just the opposite the way the world teaches: Live & Learn- where experience shall be the hard teacher.
What is a parent to do with the long history of failure in keeping the children in the way of the Lord? Children are entrusted to parents to raise in the Lord. “Train a child in the way they should go and when they are old they will not depart from it” Proverbs 22:6.
1. Kids learn best by example. You can teach all kinds of right things to your kids, but it is meaningless if you don’t observe those same rules. Your kids can spot hypocrisy a mile away.
2. Teach Jesus on holidays. I am bewildered why parents will teach their children to pay homage to fictional characters on Christmas and Easter. It should be of no surprise when they grow older to have no interest in Christ when He had no part in the celebrations when they were young.
3. Teach truth and show proof. Telling your kids to “do it because I say so” may work, but for lasting results it is wise to tell the way, and show them that God wants them to go that way from the bible. Let the bible be an instruction book for their entire life, read it to them when they are young and have them study it as they age like they would study any educational tool.
4. Pray daily for your kids. It’s wise to realize that there is a very real battle for your children by Satan. Pray not only for God’s protection over you kids but that He would lead them on that narrow path that leads to Life. 06/0