Bob Kauflin interviewed Marty Machowski, the author of the Gospel Story for Kids Sunday-school curriculum, here. There’s a lot to appreciate about what Machowski has to say, but he makes a shocking statement:
Our children, meeting in classrooms during our Sunday worship services represent the largest group of gathered unbelievers across the world.
From time to time I hear parents expressing similar sentiments — “they’re all unregenerate [or heathens],” “we can’t expect that of him; he’s not saved,” or “her problem is just that she needs to be saved.” Overwhelmingly we speak of evangelizing our children rather than discipling them. We wring our hands over the possibility of giving them false assurance, but we are almost entirely unconcerned about the danger of creating millstones of false doubt.
God does not speak of or relate to our children in this way, and it is dangerous for us to do so. It is dangerous because it trains us and our children to doubt and test the promises of God rather than believing and acting upon them. This is how God speaks of our children:
- He addresses them with commands and encouragements as part of the body of his elect “saints” (e.g., Ex. 20:2, 12; Eph. 1:1, 6:1; Col. 1:2, 3:20)
- He requires their presence in worship (Ex. 10:8-11, Ps. 96:7) and feasts (Deut. 16:9-15). He receives their worship (Matt. 21:16) as a potent spiritual warfare to silence his enemies (Ps. 8:2).
- They trusted in him before they were born (Ps. 71:6) and as infants (Ps. 22:9)
- He is their God (Gen. 17:8, Ezek. 37:21-28, etc.)
- He has promised the Holy Spirit to them (Isa. 59:21)
- He regards them as holy (1 Cor. 7:14)
We ought to speak of and think about our children in the same way that God does. This will not leave us complacent, but will instead motivate us to go about the work of parenting rightly, with full confidence in God’s being already at work in them. Instead of leading our children to the way, we will train them in the way (Prov. 22:6). What we once called evangelism must become full-orbed discipleship. Our children need the gospel, but in just the same way we do — to be continually reminded of the promises and goodness and nearness of God and to be growing in repentance and faith.