The First Pillar of Truth We Must Teach Our Children

by Kelley Mathews

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In my previous post, I noted two concerning, and connected, trends:

  1. Young people walking away from faith
  2. Biblical literacy dramatically declining among young people (and adults)

As promised, this is the first of five pillars to teach your family. That means five ways to help your family grow up to understand truth and to walk more confidently in the faith.

No Gimmicks 

These are not five magic solutions to raising kids. Transferring faith is a multi-faceted process that is influenced by a wide range of factors, like:

  • Church, Culture
  • Child’s freewill
  • God’s sovereignty
  • Prayer
  • And of course, Parenting

And under the Parenting category, there’s our own spiritual modeling. And the one we’re focused on in this series–biblical teaching.

Pillar #1 – Youth need the big picture.

I know. This is so simple, it’s crazy that it even needs mentioning. But it does. Youth need to know the basic narrative of the faith. They need the big picture. What’s the overall theme of the Bible? Is there a thread that runs from Genesis to Revelation? 

What’s the 30,000-foot perspective that allowed the Christian religion to survive and thrive for the past 2,000 years? 

Among the evidences of declining biblical literacy is the fact of basic articulation. Most kids today can’t articulate their faith. They might be able to recite the sinner’s prayer, their date of baptism, and maybe even some landmark Bible stories. Before smart phones, they might have rattled off the books of the Bible. But when it comes to grasping the big picture, and relating it back in their own words, they go blank.

Getting the big picture is crucial to any discipline in life. 

Lawyers don’t just know laws, they understand the legal framework and storied cases that make up the legal system. A good tour guide doesn’t just offer facts and dates. They know the sequence of events leading up to the moment of interest.

An NFL quarterback doesn’t just know how to take snaps or call plays in a huddle. They see the entire field and try to anticipate what the other team’s eleven players might be scheming.

So what’s the big picture for a Christian? 

Genesis 1–3: God placed man in a garden filled with delicious fruit trees, and gave him a tent (a body) that would live forever. Satan came on the scene. And so did sin. An angel showed man the exit sign out of the garden, cutting off access to that special fruit tree (called the Tree of Life). As a result, death followed for everyone.

Revelation 20–22: One day (still ahead of us), after a really gruesome battle and a dreary judgment, those life-giving fruit trees will once again appear in a “garden” called the New Jerusalem . . . the capital city of Heaven. And finally, man will live forever with God.

A wild plan, isn’t it?

{Read Jeff’s original post in its entirety to see how he lays out the details of God’s big picture.}

Action for families

By keeping the big picture narrative in mind, relating the Bible to your children can make more sense to them . . . and to you as parents also. They’ll have a mental container to place the various stories and facts they learn about the Bible.

Here are three ideas for keeping the biblical narrative front and center in your home

1. Create your own Bible timeline: As a family, chart out the timeline and key reset events on a poster board or flip chart sheet, with colored markers. Practice helping your youth share the biblical narrative, using the language of The Seed. Below is an outline to use as a guide.

 

2. In addition to your homemade timelines, you can obtain printed Bible timelines to place in your home that go much deeper in helping to tell the biblical narrative. Here are three of my favorite posters that I have hanging in my home office. They are very useful reference for my personal Bible study, as well as for sharing with the family.

3. Read the Bible regularly as a family, and talk about the narrative along the way.

Parents, faith does not transfer automatically. 

The enemy is in the business of stealing faith from our youth. It happens easily when they don’t know the big picture. The parable of the seed (Matthew 13) is all about people who hear the truth, and for a while, they seem to get it. But often, for many, something tragic happens. The big picture never develops in their minds or in their hearts. Then distractions come their way . . . and they drift.

What stops the drift and anchors a soul? Understanding.

Jeff Anderson

Jeff Anderson - bio photo cropped
Jeff Anderson speaks and writes about walking with God and leading your family into deeply rooted faith. He’s the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause (Multnomah/Random House). Reach him at his website, www.JeffAndersonAuthor.com, and on social media: Twitter and Facebook. 
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