Teach biblical doctrine to children? Yes!

29 June 2020


Given the number of hours spent in church, Sunday school and at home in contact with the Bible, this may seem surprising. On the other hand, if children, especially older children, are asked about the education they receive, we often hear this remark: “It’s always the same!” They may feel like they know the Bible, when in reality they have flown over it …

One wonders if, too often, children do not receive as spiritual food a set of stories: they know that David killed Goliath, that Daniel was protected from the lions, that Jesus fed five thousand men. They like to hear stories.

For the monitor or parent, it’s easier and more appealing to tell a story than to expose concepts!

 Indoctrinating – instilling – teaching

  • Indoctrination means forcing someone to adhere to a doctrine, ideas, propaganda, bludgeoning, poisoning. WIKIPEDIA Quote: “Indoctrination has long been defined as the act of instructing or the process by which a doctrine, attitude or method is instilled in students. With the evolution of society, the term has become pejorative. Indoctrination consists of regularly using various means of psychological pressure such as fear, hope, guilt or the indefinite pounding of the same assertions, socio-emotional training, etc. by working to short-circuit the critical thinking abilities of the one whose thoughts are proposed to change thoughts, or even personality. In general, indoctrination is therefore a form of mental manipulation.” Teaching doctrine does not mean indoctrinating. Let us avoid any psychological pressure, so easy when we address particularly receptive people like children. There is a healthy way to let children know what God is saying, leaving them the choice of decision, just as the Lord Jesus did during his earthly ministry (for example: recount of the encounter of Jesus and the rich young man Mark 10.17).
  • Instill: Get something into someone’s mind in a sustainable way. This word is found once in the Bible: Deuteronomy 6.7. It can also be translated by repeating, teaching, literally “trapping”.
  • Teaching: learning, guiding, teaching, initiating, showing, explaining, making known. These words are often found in the Bible.” Teach the young man in the way he must follow; even when he’s old, he won’t stray from it.” (Proverbs 22.6).

It is because we believe in the power of education and teaching that we ensure that our children can benefit from the best schools, the best teachers, whether in the school, arts or sports fields. Why not in the spiritual realm?

What is biblical doctrine?

It is a systematic, logical and orderly presentation of what we believe and teach as Christians. It is a set of truths on which everything we believe and do must be based Believers must know doctrine, study it, understand it, believe it, keep it, pass it on and teach it. Paul said to Timothy, “And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust it to trustworthy people who will in turn be able to teach it to others.” (2 Timothy 2.2).

Doctrine is the very foundation of the Church: “You were built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the stone of the corner.” (Ephesians 2.20-21)

It has different names in the Bible: faith (1 Timothy 4.1), truth (1 Timothy 3.15), The Word (2 Timothy 4.2), the Gospel (1 Timothy 6.3), teaching (1 Timothy 6.3). It is mentioned at least 50 times in the New Testament.

The Importance of Doctrine

In his book “You better believe it”, (see this book) David PETTS, pastor of the Assemblies of God in England, elected president of the global Pentecost movement, said: “Some time ago, I was invited to bring the Word to an interfaith house group, a charismatic prayer group. During the conversation, a very sincere young woman remarked: I do not want doctrine. I want God.
His statement fully reflects the attitude of many Christians in today’s world, who are weeded from the deadly dryness of the dogmas of each denomination and sigh after a living reality of life in the Spirit. However, while this attitude is understandable, it is still fundamentally dangerous. Like sailboats, not only do we need the spirit wind (which is really necessary) to inflate our sails and move us forward for God, but we also need the heavy keel of sound doctrine to keep the ship straight from the waves of life. What we believe is of paramount importance.”

“So that we may be instructed of his doctrine, the Lord established teachers in his Church: “It was he who gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as forerators of the good news, others as shepherds and masters, to train the saints for the work of ministry, for the construction of the body of Christ, until we all reached the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. , to the state of adult man, to the extent of Christ’s perfect stature. Thus we will no longer be toddlers tossed by the waves and trained in any wind of teaching, played and misplaced by the cunning and manoeuvring of the people; in telling the truth, in love we will grow in every respect in the one who is the head, Christ.” (Ephesians 4.11)

Teaching doctrine … children?

The early church was based on doctrine. The apostles knew that the first need of the new converts was teaching: “… on that day, about three thousand people were added to the Church. They were assiduous in the teaching of the apostles, in fraternal communion, in sharing bread and in prayers.” (Acts 2.42)

In a difficult world for children, the teaching of doctrine reassures them. Their faith is not based on what they think, see or feel only, but   what God said and wrote in His Word.

The teaching of doctrine allows them to have a fair vision of things: “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119.105)

Teaching helps them to develop harmoniously: “… From your earliest childhood, you have known the Sacred Scriptures; they can give you wisdom for salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. All Scripture is inspired by God and useful to teach, to refute, to right, to educate in righteousness, so that the man of God may be up to the task, perfectly equipped for all good work.” (2 Timothy 3.16). “And Jesus progressed in wisdom, stature and grace with God and humans.” (Luke 2.52)

The teaching of truth makes them free: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8.32). Free to choose, free to reject the lies of the enemy, free from the power of sin, free from fear.

 Doctrine helps them to obey. “How will a young man make his path pure? By keeping your word.” (Psalm 119.9) But how can we obey the word if we don’t know what she’s saying? “My people perish because they don’t have the knowledge.” (Hosea 4.6)

Charles SPURGEON was a Baptist pastor in London in the 19th century, one of the greatest pastors and preachers of all time. He founded and developed many Sunday schools as well as a large orphanage. He was a firm believer in the conversion of children and encouraged all his Sunday school teachers to teach biblical doctrines. He said:

“We have heard from some that children cannot understand the great mysteries of religion. We even know some Sunday school instructors who carefully avoid mentioning the great doctrines of the gospel because they think that children are not prepared to receive them. I maintain that there is no doctrine of the Word of God that a child capable of being saved is not capable of receiving. I would like children to be taught all the great doctrines of truth without any exception so that they may later stand firm thanks to them.”

How do we do that?

Preparing to teach: in order to teach doctrine, we must understand it ourselves! Someone said, “If the teacher is in the fog, the students will be in darkness.”

Our main research is in the Bible, of course. But we can be helped by good books that present biblical truths in an orderly way. Indeed, doctrines are scattered throughout the Bible. Some have studied them at length in order to discern and understand them accurately. They have listed them in books accessible to all. Let us not neglect these treasures, let us not only have an “approximate” doctrine for our own lives first, but also for our teaching towards children! “Try to present yourself before God as a man who has proven himself, a worker who does not have to blush, but who is righteously exposed to the word of truth.” (Timothy 2.15)

The Holy Ghost helps us: “… it will lead you into the whole truth.” (John 16.13)

On the ground: Of course, as with everything we bring to children, we must teach in a simple, attractive, captivating way, adapted to their age. As far as doctrine is concerned, three points are essential for its teaching:

  • methodically: programs must be organized in such a way as to deal with most biblical doctrines, in relation to the age of children, of course. Biblical doctrine is logical, so it must be presented in a clear and structured way. The child understands better if each step of the lesson is based on the previous one. Of course, we cannot convince without the help of the Holy Spirit. However, a well-structured lesson helps children understand.
  • with precision: one truth at a time! One of the main mistakes of the instructors is to say too many things during a session, to bring too rich a teaching. One can rarely teach the whole of a biblical doctrine in one go…

  • practically: each doctrine must be applied to the daily lives of children. “But anyone who hears these words from me and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a madman who built his house on the sand.” (Matthew 7.26). When preparing a lesson, if you can’t find a practical application for the children, it’s because your teaching is not within their reach.

Children can be helped by training them to formulate the foundations of their faith. Ask questions regularly like: tell me why you are sure to be saved, why your sins are forgiven, why you have nothing to fear… Do it in a stimulating and encouraging way.

Songs also proclaim these truths. Encourage children to believe it with all their heart. Prayer is essential for the Holy Ghost to enlighten the minds of children, saved or not.

Key doctrines to be taught

The general curriculum for children should address each of these doctrines at least once, depending on age level:

One God, in three people
God is the creator
God is holy
God is righteous
God is love
God is almighty
God is faithful
God never changes
God is everywhere
God knows everything and sees everything
God is merciful and full of grace
God is patient

Jesus christ
He is God the Son, human and divine
The only mediator between God and men
He died on the cross punished for sinners
He’s risen, he’s triumphed
He has been glorified, he is Lord
He prays for believers
He’s preparing us for a place in heaven
He’s coming back

He is God the Holy Spirit
He lives in believers
It gives the assurance of salvation
It transforms in the image of Christ
He convinces of sinHe guides believers
It helps in the life and service of the believer
The baptism of the Holy Ghost, a promise expressed by speaking it in tongues
Spiritual gifts

It is the word of God, inspired by God
It is true, infallible
It reveals who God is
It is the mirror of the human being
It shows the way forward

It was created in the image of God
It was created pure and innocent
He fell into sin by wilful transgression
He is a sinner by nature and by his actions
He is loved by God Humanity remains in condemnation

Sin is a rebellion against God
He must be punished by God
It separates from God
It is universal

An invitation from God
God’s answer by faith in Jesus Christen turning away from his sin
The justification

Assembly of believers in Jesus Christ, the family of God
Jesus Christ is the head of the church
The local church – the universal church
The meal of the scene

When they die, believers enter the presence of God
The rescued will receive a new body
Jesus Christ will judge the service of believers
Heaven is the place where God resides, a place of joy and eternal glories
Hell is a place of punishment and eternal separation from God
God will make a new heaven and a new earth

The devil is the enemy of God and the people of God
Angels are spiritual beings at the service of believers
Death is the separation of soul and body

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