I am firmly convinced that the church cannot save your children, but you can (with the Lord's help, of course)! What do you mean, Stephen? Sitting through a few Bible classes & sermons at a church building each week is not likely to exceed the weight of influence exercised in a child's life via cultural & parental influences.
Consider Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and think about the power of a home that does not forget God:
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
That passage is packed with practical wisdom. Let's break it down. The LORD has given parents 4 wonderful & powerful tools. Some of these tools overlap:
1. PERSONAL EXAMPLE
"You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart." (Deut. 6:5,6).
We have said much about this point already in this series. One who loves God will also love His word. When it comes to child rearing, more is caught than taught. In other words, parents must practice what they preach. It is certainly the case that parents aren't going to be perfect, but they must be authentic! It's easier for a child to see the way to heaven when parents are walking in it.
Let me share an insightful quote from Allen Webster on this point: "Little eyes watch us; little feet follow us; little minds scrutinize us. Our character is a river flowing past our children hour by hour. One day our steps will likely be their steps, our thoughts will be their thoughts, and our words will be their words." Amen! The power of example from both parents must not be minimized.
2. FORMAL TEACHING
"You shall teach them diligently to your children" (Deut. 6:7a).
Intentional teaching should occur in many forms. Bible classes and assemblies should only be the beginning-- not the entire substance--of formal spiritual teaching & training. Daily family devotionals are a priceless opportunity. Our family conducts them in the evening before the little ones go to bed. We all gather in the living room. We sing songs together and pray together. Some evenings we read from God's word. On other occasions we read from a Bible story book. Always we discuss what we read and chew on it a bit, as I endeavor to make it practical with questions, soliciting thought & input from my children along the way. Sometimes we don't read anything at all but we talk about what happened that day (e.g., meeting a new neighbor, a hospital visit, a funeral, etc.). Admittedly, it is easy to be undisciplined and allow our daily devo time to get squeezed out of our self-imposed busy lives, but I'm the father and must lead my family. I have a duty to teach them.
In addition to the above, I'm cognizant of many bedrock principles from God's word that I want to reiterate to my children over and over and over again. All of Scripture is valuable (cf. II Tim. 3:16,17), but here are eight fundamental truths I especially try to preach to my family & live before them at all times:
We will continue this study in our next lesson.