For as long as I can remember, my husband has been a theology nerd. He listens to 38902 podcasts and sermons a week, sends me more articles to read than I can manage, and everyone in our family razzes him about asking for “church books” for Christmas year after year. Picture most of the world when T Swift releases an album, and that’s him when the latest theology buzz book is dropped. Whisper the words systematic theology to him, and watch his eyes light up. You get the drift.
Me? I love the latest Chip + Joanna release at Target, and I am lucky if I get one podcast in between the load of laundry and rescuing the toddler who climbed on top of the bunkbed again.
We don’t think we’re theologians.
That’s how most of us think, right? We don’t think we’re theologians. We save that term for the smart people in our life. People with degrees and full bookshelves. People who use big words and know so much (I am SO grateful for those who do. It’s such a gift to have their insight).
But today I’d submit to you that each of us are theologians,
and especially, our kids.
See, theology simply means “the study of God.” And everyone, from the babe at our feet to the most educated among us, can study Him.
I became desperate - and then delighted - to teach them the true story.
Confession: I wouldn’t have typed those last four sentences a year ago. But then the word blew up. It seemed like every direction I looked there was a new story, a new headline, a new truth someone wanted me to believe, and if they wanted me to believe it, it was surely coming for my kids too. In a world trying to grab my kids’ attention and teach them any story they will listen to, I became desperate - and then delighted - to teach them the true story. The story of God and their place in that story.
They can soak in and remember far more than I would have imagined.
And you know what? It’s been incredible to watch my kids grasp these simple truths of who God is. They can soak in and remember far more than I would have imagined.
Before we talk about the methods, let’s back up a little bit. The last thing I want to portray is a list of books and flashcards all tied up in a neat pile that ensure your child’s faith.
You need to know that a few years ago I went through a season of really struggling with this whole idea. "Why does what we teach our kids even matter?" See, I had watched some people I love walk away from the Lord. I watched many of their parents question, hurt, and even carry guilt, and I started to wrestle. I know our salvation is not from our parents and I know we can’t save our kids. Which then caused me to wonder, "If we have no control over the end result anyway, then what is the point?!" (just being honest - it sounds weird to type it out but I was feeling this tension).
God can handle our doubts and wacky questions and shaky wondering.
But in His goodness, it turns out God can handle our doubts and wacky questions and shaky wondering. I’ve found a few reasons in His word and in others’ wisdom that reignited my desire to teach my kids well - fully knowing I don’t control their salvation.
God simply tells us to do it. We can find evidence in Deuteronomy 6 and 11, Proverbs 22, Ephesians 6, and many other passages that speak to raising up our children in His ways, keeping God’s Word in our homes and teaching it to our children, and bringing them up in His instruction.
My husband often tells me this and I think he heard it from a pastor friend - the idea that we’re laying kindling all around our kids and praying the Holy Spirit would just set it ablaze. I love that image, that the things we teach our kids can be instruments in His hands to light the gospel in their life - one of our most powerful tools is PRAYER!
The Cultural Mandate.
In the first several words of the Bible, God creates man and woman in His image, and then tells them to go fill the earth and subdue it. In layman’s terms: Cultivate the earth for His glory. Be fruitful and multiply - both physically and spiritually. Help creation flourish. This, my friends, is true of parenting too. Helping our kids flourish is to help them know God, His story, their identity, and truth.
There are surely many more reasons, but these are three I hang on to.
Theology can be done for free.
To end this article, I’ll share a little of what has been helpful in our home. But first, a disclaimer. Much like they say homeschooling can be done with a pencil and library card, theology can be done for “free” as well. Don’t think you have to blow your budget to effectively disciple your children! However, there are people with incredible gifts and talents that create resources to help. We love supporting and using what they’ve created to help us in this endeavor.
MY CURRENT TOP 5:
Everything A Child Should Know about God: a beautifully put together kids book of major Bible teachings about God. Love this for toddler/elementary ages.
NewCity Catechism App: our current fave. A FREE app designed to teach the core doctrines of the Christian faith through 52 question/answers. Turn on Children's Mode and there are songs to go with!
The Ology: This storybook of systematic theology takes abstract concepts in the Bible and makes them easier to understand with the use of creative examples, illustrations, and analogies. Best for ages six - pre-teens.
- Tiny Theologians: This sweet shop creates theology flashcards and resources designed for kids!
- Local Church: I didn't want to leave this off the list. While every church will vary in the method and resources used to teach theology, our kids need to see us doing theology in community. So powerful.
Mama, I am praying now that this encourages you! Days are long, we are tired, issues are big. I pray you’d be reminded of the battle we fight in, and the value of these little (and not so little) souls. You are called and equipped. Walk in His power.
So encouraging! Thanks!!