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What are we teaching them? 

That children's Christian music tends to teach the names of Jesus' disciples points to a deeper question: how are we enabling our children not just to learn verses, phrases or names from the Bible, but its truth and their application? By Ed Jones



Recently I realised that within the albums we own that could be classed under something like ‘Children’s Christian Music’, we have somehow amassed three different songs, by different musicians, all of which teach the names of Jesus’ disciples.

Children imageNow I’m not after a debate (or argument) over the wide selection of Children’s Christian Music that is available these days, its merits or lack of, and how it wasn’t like that in my day. The question these particular songs raised for me don’t necessarily have anything to even do with music or sung worship. What struck me was simply ‘Why’?

I can see that learning the names of the disciples is not a bad thing; they’re good to know in many ways.  Having them within our arsenal of biblical knowledge should enable us to piece together who was where, who did what and so on and so forth. How though will they equip our children to live out their lives for Jesus? How will they enable them to respond to all the world throws at them? How will they be the tools they need to make the best choices on a Tuesday morning at break time?

The bigger question that I believe this all raises is: does this speak for much more in terms of how we are teaching, encouraging, nurturing and equipping the children that are a part of our churches today? Rachel Turner, in her book Parenting children for a life of faith, talks about laying a framework for life experience, suggesting ‘we can prepare a solid, tied-together truth-and-experience spiritual framework for our children’s life circumstances’.

Within the church we need to be asking how we are sharing with children the power of the word of God, the impact it can have in their lives and the difference it can make. How are we enabling them not just to learn verses, phrases or names from the Bible, but its truth and their application? Knowing lists of things is nowhere near as effective as understanding what to do with them.

For the record I’m not going to stop my own children listening to songs that teach them the names of Jesus’ disciples! But it has caused me to question both how we’re equipping them at home to understand the big picture of God’s story (where they fit in and the purposes he has for them); and how within the life of the church we’re not wasting any opportunity to effectively equip them to be used by God right now.


Some thoughts to consider:

• How are you helping children to unpack and apply the things they’re learning about God?
• Who decides on the topics that are taught amongst the children within your local gathering of church?
• How are you encouraging opportunities for discussion and comment out of what you’re teaching children within the local gathering of church?


Ed Jones is a Baptist minister based in Basildon, Essex, and is the executive director of Arise Ministries

 

Rachel Turner, Parenting children for a life of faith (Bible Reading Fellowship 2010), p41&42
Picture: RGB Stock
Ed Jones, 29/10/2013
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