Most homeschool families desire to teach the principles of God to their children so that they grasp, and eventually own, their own faith—they get it, when it comes to following Jesus Christ. Therefore, for many homeschool families, one of the principal factors for choosing to homeschool is the opportunity to teach their children godly principles from the Bible. They desire to do more than just teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Their goal is that their children have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and follow Him. Accomplishing this task is easier said than done, right?
According to Barna Research Group, 70% to 90% of Christian teenagers will abandon their faith by their twentieth birthday. That’s a shocking statistic! According to the research, these children were raised in Christian homes and taken to church—so how could this happen? Could it be that we aren’t being intentional about transferring our faith to our children? Could it be that we are more interested in our children’s success than their character? Could it be that we feel pressure from outside influences to focus on our kids’ mental abilities, in comparison to their peers at church and other public school children, to the detriment of focusing on the state of their heart?
I believe the Apostle Paul hit the nail on the head in Philippians 1. He writes as a father yearning for his children. You can almost feel Paul’s heart pounding in his chest as he writes:
For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. Philippians 1:8-11
That’s it! That’s what I want for my children! I truly want my children to be able “to approve what is excellent.” I want them to know what it is to be “pure and blameless.” I want them to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness.” But, these qualities won’t be acquired by osmosis. We must intentionally teach and train our children so that they will know what is excellent and acceptable.
Today our children are being bombarded by so many influences that are outside the home and church. They have computers, iPads, smart phones, TVs, friends, etc., that come with worldviews that aren’t always godly. Do you know what your children really believe? Do you know what they are really thinking? Do they have a godly worldview?
You see, just because our children are growing up in our godly home, and we take them to church, and we have a morning prayer before we start homeschooling, this doesn’t mean they are going to automatically follow Christ. The truth is: for many years, our family was simply public schooling at the kitchen table. We were so concerned about the important stuff (education) that we neglected the spiritual. Marvin Olasky of World Magazine says it best:
The prime purpose of Christian education is not to instill in students a certain set of behaviors, although that may be a side effect of good teaching and learning. It’s not even to put into our children’s heads a certain amount of factual information, although a well-stocked memory is a great aid. No, our greatest educational task is to help our children see the hand of God in all things and to give Him glory. You see Christianity isn’t a hobby we play around with when we are not doing more important things.
That last statement hits me hard: “Christianity isn’t a hobby we play around with when we are not doing more important things.” Ouch! Yes indeed, the truth hurts.
So, the choice is ours. We can teach our children to be intelligent, brilliant and successful. They can grow up and live the American Dream and retire one day with a fortune, but would that really make them a success?
We do want to teach our children the quadratic equation, the Pythagorean Theorem and that “K” stands for potassium on the Periodic Table of Elements. But, let’s not neglect the important stuff—the stuff that Jesus talked about—you know: Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33.
Yep, that’s the really important stuff and all that will matter in the end.