Families are a blessing. Just look at Psalm 127. God gives children to parents as a gift meant to bring joy (though it brings a good many tears, terrible smells, and sleepless nights as well). But children are also a responsibility. As a Christian parent, God has given you the responsibility of imparting the faith to your children. It’s not the pastor’s job, it’s not the teacher’s job, it’s not anyone’s responsibility. Now, pastors, teachers, grandparents, mentors, and other good influences can be great resources and helps, the responsibility belongs to the parent.
But, as scary sounding as that is, it doesn’t have to be. While it is a serious task, it doesn’t have to be a difficult one. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses is talking to the entire nation of Israel, and he tells them the same thing. It’s their job to make sure their children know what God has done. And he gives them (and us) a practical way to do it. First, he says God’s word should be on their hearts. Now, for parents today, that doesn’t mean you need to be a Biblical scholar, have a degree in theology, or know the Strong’s concordance like the back of your hand. But it does mean that you need to be in the Word. You need to be thinking about what God says and what God wants. If you enjoy reading and study, spend an hour reading Scriptures and commentaries every day. If bookwork and reading are difficult for you, listen to God’s Word on your way into work. Just get God’s Word on your heart.
Then, Moses tells the people to diligently teach God’s Word to their children. Now, this may seem like a daunting task, but he follows up with simple instructions of how to do it.
Talk to your children.
Talk about what God’s Word says. Talk to them at home, in the car, in the morning, and before bed, Moses says. Use the dinner table, the breakfast table, the way to school as times to direct the conversation toward godly things. Now, for some families, this is really easy. You all may be very comfortable talking to each other about anything and everything. For some families, having meaningful conversation can be a huge struggle. If talking isn’t easy for you or your children, it may be helpful to come up with, or find online, some discipleship questions, and talk about one over dinner. If you are worried about teaching your kids about God because of how little you know, you don’t have to be an expert. Remember, you know more than they do, at least until they’re teenagers (or so they think). You don’t have to know everything. And when you don’t know something, “I don’t know, but let’s look into it together” is a great way to not only help your children learn, but also to help grow your relationship with them and your own faith.
To help start some of these conversations, Moses tells parents to put visible reminders of faith throughout their daily lives. Indeed, Scripture is full of examples and instructions of intentionally putting things in place to help the generations remember. From festivals to altars to memorial structures, these things served to help future generations see what God had done with their own eyes. For us today, that could be putting a family verse above the front door, making a lawn decoration that reminds your family of something really cool that God did, to having a worship song or hymn that you sing each night. Use those to lead into spiritual conversations.
Toward the end of chapter 6 in verses 20-23 Moses tells the people why it is so important for parents to teach their children. To paraphrase “When your children ask you ‘what does God’s word mean, and why do we do all these things?’ tell them ‘the Lord rescued us from slavery, and brought us into the place He had promised us.’” Which is the same thing we should be teaching our children. God rescued Moses and the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and He has rescued you and I from slavery and sin through Jesus. God brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, and He has brought us into a right relationship with Himself. This is the most important thing that a parent can pass on to their children.
Recommended Resources for Family Discipleship: