We use Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and we send our children to a special worship service designed for them. Some people fortify these with a Christian preschool through Christian College education. And some Christians choose the home-schooling route. There are many ways that we can, and do, give Christian teaching to our children.
I remember when we moved to start a church in a growing community. We prayed for and sought one dozen Christians to join my wife, children and I in the process of planting this new church. There were a handful of large Churches (of one thousand or more) in the area, and we tried with their pastor's support, to recruit a few families. We ended up finding some people who were willing, but it took a while! And there was one big reason people refused to step-up: their children. "We want our children to get the best Christian education they can get," parents would say as they gave us their best "surely you understand" look.
A few years later, we had connected more than 80 adults and 60 children to our faith. Then, several of them were convinced to leave our young church and go to one of the biggies which had bigger classes, better facilities and all. And that was OK. We had connected them to Christ, which was our aim. A pastor of one of those mega-churches told me that we were reaching unconnected people faster than his congregation. (And that was because we were a new church, and new churches reach new people faster than any other kind of church. But church planting isn't my point today.)
Often, when parents would tell me they couldn't risk their child's eternity on a small church that met in a school (and didn't have color coded slides for children to ride down to their age-group classes), I would try and tell them that kids can learn in a mission type setting. My own kids were taken overseas to a foreign land when they were 4 and 8. There was no established Sunday School or fancy curricula. Their teacher hadn't even had time to learn the basic bible stories our children already knew. What could they learn in that foreign land?
Maybe seeing us live out the faith they were being taught? Maybe joining us as we left friends and family behind for the sake of the call was a lesson? Maybe even our 8 year old telling her new teacher about how to teach memory verses (by erasing one word at a time and having the class quote the verse with what was left) or the two of them doing a Christmas play--our son played shepherd, wise men and Joseph; while our 8 year old was Mary and the director of the production-- maybe?
I'm reading some books about people who go and immerse themselves in another culture and live the life of Jesus amongst them. I'm remembering that nearly every important lesson I've ever learned about being a Christian has come when outside of a classroom setting, I took action.
I am grateful for having had the benefit of good Sunday Schools, a youth group and a Christian University Education. Yet as important as those things were, I believe that growing up with a tool-maker dad who played ball with me and disciplined me and taught me of the faith; and being with a housewife mom who loved me, fed me, made sure I got up in time to get to school, and prayed with me like my dad--these two people taught me what it meant to be like Jesus. And between public school days and dirty talking friends I had plenty of "bad influences." But I was a kid baptized and taught the ways of Jesus. And I was taught that faith in action is important.
I remember painting lines on the church parking lot with my dad. I was just a kid, and evidently he went to the right meeting or volunteered to help, but there we were at the hardware store buying chalk-line and chalk, and paint and rollers. Something about seeing the cars lined-up in an orderly fashion that next Sunday made me feel dignified, important. Painting lines taught me to obey in bigger areas...like when I was called to move overseas or when I left a strong church of 250 to start a new one with only the four of us.
I'm just saying...