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3 Reasons Why Kids Need Systematic Theology

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Author/Source: Sam Luce

Topic: Theology, Teaching, Culture

Times have changed. As children's pastors and parents, we need to realize that our kids need more than what we're teaching.

I know what you are thinking: “Isn’t that a bit much for kids?” 50 years ago I would have agreed with you, even 20 years ago. Today is a different day. There are many reasons for this, but I think D.A. Carson’s analysis is most concise in this matter. He says, ”One generation knows the gospel; the next assumes the gospel; and the third generation denies the gospel.”

During the time when I was growing up as a kid and, I believe, even during my first few years as a children’s pastor, we lived in a season where the gospel was assumed. There were no sports or school activities available on Wednesday night for children so that kids could go to youth group. Stores were closed on Sunday so people could spend time with family and observe the Sabbath. We lived in a culture where Christian ideas, thoughts and standards, for better or for worse, pervaded our country. In the South today this is still true to some extent. I think the feeling when I was growing up was that you didn’t need to give kids as deep of a grounding in doctrine and truth because it existed everywhere. There was stuff you had to learn for sure, but I think many things were assumed.

As parents and as pastors, we can no longer assume anything. We live in arguably the most secular age our country has ever seen. We must proactively teach our kids the stories of the Bible but also the truth underneath the stories and most importantly the person to whom those truths and stories point.

That is the context for why we need to teach our kids systematically. Now here are a few reasons why it matters.

  1. Feelings matter but they most often lie to us. If our kids are not grounded in truth, their feelings will move them to love Jesus until they no longer feel like loving Jesus. We all need to know God and experience God. Knowing what is true places an anchor in our soul, so that even though storms may rage we will be moved but never drift. Truth anchors us in hope on the Rock of Ages.
  2. Systems create categories that allow for understanding to take root. Randomly teaching kids Bible stories has some value, but systems allow us to teach the whole counsel of God to our kids. Our kids need to hear the stories of Daniel and David but they need to know the God of Daniel and David. I believe that happens through systematically teaching doctrine in a relational environment. By reading my kids systematic theology, they have been asking questions about God they have never asked because it is creating categories about who God is that never existed in their minds before.
  3. Kids need truth that is over their heads. I know what I just said. Hold off the dogs and hear me out. I am a firm believer that we need to teach not just stories of people, animals and adventure to our kids. We must teach our kids all of who God is even before they fully understand all we taught. I appreciate all the brilliant people who tell us how kids learn. We should listen to them but not be discipled by them. What I mean is we must teach kids a faith they can grasp today, but we must also prepare them for the faith they are going to need tomorrow. To prepare kids for future faith, we must give them deep truths that will provide grounding in the face of tomorrow's storms that WILL challenge their faith. As parents and pastors, we must give kids a faith that is big enough that they can grow into it rather than a faith that is so simple they will outgrow it.

 


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