When looking at the Truth78 scope and sequence and the accompanying lessons, some people question whether or not it’s necessary or wise to provide children and young people with such a rigorous Bible study endeavor. It almost looks like “school,” requires both teachers and students to really exert thoughtful effort, and often leaves little time for additional crafts, games, and “hanging out together.” It is not that we are opposed to the latter in the classroom, it’s simply that we believe in maximizing our time by first focusing on what is most important.
Consider these statistics that author and parent Natasha Crain notes in her article, “What Your Kids Need for a Confident Faith”:
What can Christian parents and the church do to foster a more robust spiritual training? In his excellent book, “Essentials of the Christian Faith,” R. C. Sproul makes the following observation:
...There is a primacy of the mind in the Christian faith. There is also a primacy of the heart…With respect to the primacy of importance, the heart is first…
However, for my heart to be right, there is the primacy of the intellect in terms of order. Nothing can be in my heart that is not first in my head. How can I love a God or a Jesus about whom I understand nothing? Indeed, the more I come to understand the character of God, the greater is my capacity to love Him.(Copyright © 1992, page xix)
Those of us who teach children and youth are especially susceptible to this “feelings” focus. Why? Here are just a few things I have observed (and have sometimes been guilty of, in some measure):
- It is much easier to illicit positive feelings from children than it is to actively engage and challenge their minds. Fun music, activities, puppets, skits, etc. make the children “happy” during the class time.
- This kind of rigorous training is hard work for both teacher and students, requires a greater time commitment from the teacher, and may even require some guided training.
- We don’t want Sunday school to feel like school.
- We fear that teaching and challenging the mind will necessarily lead to spiritually heartless intellectualism.
- It may bring to the forefront innate inequalities in the students' intellectual abilities, posing a possible threat to a child’s self-esteem. (I am not referring to children with specific learning disabilities here.)
Yes, these are challenges to overcome, but as Dr. Al Mohler points out,
Christian faithfulness requires the development of the believer’s intellectual capacities in order that we may understand the Christian faith, develop habits of Christian thought, form intuitions that are based upon biblical truth, and live in faithfulness to all that Christ teaches. This is no easy task, to be sure. Just as Christian discipleship requires growth and development, intellectual faithfulness requires a lifetime of devoted study, consecrated thinking, and analytical reflection. (www.albertmohler.com)
To be sure, “this is no easy task.” But an increasing amount of evidence demands that we take this lack of Christian intellectual faithfulness seriously. We do not want to foster featherweight faith that is easily blown away by the follies of this age. Rather, let us rigorously teach their minds and earnestly engage their hearts, praying with humble dependence on the Holy Spirit, that our children and students will become mighty men and women of faith who stand firm.