Nothing New Under the Sun and Children’s Ministry
This year, I have been reading through Charles Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening Devotional. Well, I’ve gotten a little bit behind, and I am busy “catching up.” This morning, I was reading the evening devotional for July 11 and found a rather startling entry based on the verse in Joel 1:3 which reads, “Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation.”
In this simple way, by God’s grace, a living testimony for truth is always to be kept alive in the land—the beloved of the Lord are to hand down their witness for the gospel, and the covenant to their heirs, and these again to their next descendants. This is our first duty, we are to begin at the family hearth: he is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home. The heathen are to be sought by all means, and the highways and hedges are to be searched, but home has a prior claim, and woe unto those who reverse the order of the Lord’s arrangements. To teach our children is a personal duty; we cannot delegate it to Sunday school teachers, or other friendly aids; these can assist us, but cannot deliver us from the sacred obligation; proxies and sponsors are wicked devices in this case: mothers and fathers must, like Abraham, command their households in the fear of God, and talk with their offspring concerning the wondrous works of the Most High. Parental teaching is a natural duty—who so fit to look to the child’s well-being as those who are the authors of his actual being? To neglect the instruction of our offspring is worse than brutish. Family religion is necessary for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God. By a thousand plots Popery is covertly advancing in our land, and one of the most effectual means for resisting its inroads is left almost neglected, namely, the instruction of children in the faith. Would that parents would awaken to a sense of the importance of this matter. It is a pleasant duty to talk of Jesus to our sons and daughters, and the more so because it has often proved to be an accepted work, for God has saved the children through the parents’ prayers and admonitions. May every house into which this volume shall come honour the Lord and receive his smile.
Why is this entry startling? Spurgeon originally published this devotional in Evening by Evening in 1868 over 140 years ago. It seems that the recent push towards “family ministry” and recapturing the home as the center of child’s spiritual development is not such a new idea after all. Nearly 150 years ago, Spurgeon identified parents abdicating their role as the spiritual guides of their kids as fundamental “for the nation, for the family itself, and for the church of God.” As parents, we would do well to remember Spurgeon’s admonition that:
He is a bad preacher who does not commence his ministry at home.