Starting at home
Our life has been very different these past few months due to extenuating circumstances. First we spent a couple of months just visiting family and friends. We were able to pick up a vehicle + RV combo and drive around the American countryside…that was fun!
Following this time, God opened the doors for us to be able to go to 3DTC in Beaumont, Texas. Our time there started in September and went until the 10th of December. Nelly and I traded places during this time. I was able to stay at home while she went to study full-time at 3D. By study full-time I mean 8:00am to 5:00pm with a short lunch break.
God uses amazing methods to teach us (if we’re teachable). We want to be teachable. In fact, we realize we need to be teachable, however we’re not always with the correct mindset to be taught and lessons are missed or delayed it seems.
During this time God prepared a special lesson for me. It all took place at home with our son, Joshua. He is in first grade, going on high-school…except he can’t read so much and hates writing his letters. Actually that sounds familiar to me as a high-school student.
The thing is, it was my turn to homeschool Joshua. Usually Nelly does the teaching at home and excels at it while keeping the home in tip-top shape. I am not really sure how she does it all – maybe she’s not all human.
Anyways, back to school with Joshua…it was such a learning experience…for me. I hope he learned a bit too but mostly, I believe, it was me learning. Not only was I educated in how much kids learn these days in first grade but the online method as well. I remember programming our Learning Management System back in Red Biblica days and though it was ahead in its time, online learning these days has progressed so far.
The point it, this new environment I was in was the perfect setting for me to learn a very important lesson. Discipleship should begin at home. Why? Because so many foundations are laid in first grade, even earlier. Concepts like nouns, verbs, counting, summing and addition are some of the blocks that are set in place. To the degree in which they are understood will greatly determine the future ability to build on later.
At the same time, and being christians, we try to teach our children about the Bible. Yet it has become evident to me of the confusions that are laid at this very early age. Bible stories are actually taught as human heroes to become like. Jesus is taught as the one to imitate in His perfections and the Fruit of the Spirit is set as something attainable if we want it hard enough. So, it’s no wonder when we were discussing going to Heaven with my son, his answer revealed his dependence on his goodness (efforts to be good) and eternal life was a reward.
I learned how important it is to disciple our kids early on. Let’s not presume that just because our kids give us the right answers regarding David and Goliath or Noah and the ark or God in creation that they understand the basics of God’s perfect character, love and justice and our (children included) sinfulness and need for a savior. The Gospel is not a magical phrase kids repeat or memorize as a first grade lesson. It requires understanding the purpose for the Gospel, the cost of the Gospel and the results of believing the Gospel.
Teaching Bible stories with the purpose of teaching heroes to behave like is confusing if one does not understand the basics that need to be laidearly on. You don’t learn about summing numbers before you learn to count. It is senseless to think sentences can be formed before learning letters. In the same way, I learned that my job as a parent begins early on, presenting building blocks of life that later will be build on. Our christian education is presuming too much if they think teaching the Fruit of the Spirit to first graders as the way to behave. It’s like starting with equations before learning greater than, less than or equal to. The basic concepts need to be laid first before talking about how a christian should live. Equations are taught upon basic concepts not something to memorize and repeat.
So to sum this up, I have come to realize that the reason much of our discipleship training at the 3D center is unteaching and removing false understandings that have been incorrectly taught in church. This is why young people are better trained that adults unfortunately. It’s because adults have so much more they have learned that is incorrect. I am an excelent example of this. I was serving with all my heart as a missionary without even clearly understanding the gospel message.
Clarity of the gospel does not come by chance. It does not come by using cliche’s that allude to truth for fear of not offending anyone. Placing trust on someone to bump into truth on their own is only leading people astray. Discipleship is not so much about ability or talent but about trust in the God of the message.
Discipleship needs to start laying out concepts before memorizing christian phrases. Christian phrases can be build upon concepts like equations are built on the concept of greater than or less than. Unless we teach concepts we are setting up kids to be deaf to understanding and all to familiar with meaningless words.
I’m grateful for this time of learning. I pray that I can learn to apply this, especially in the lives of my children and that I will not presume their familiarity with terms means understanding of the concepts.