Ingrid at Slice of Laodicea has a great post about Catechesis, VBS, and teaching our children in church. Basically, in response to another reader, she laments the sad state of Evangelicalism and its sad preference of entertainment over teaching. She writes:
'Anything with substantive content is looked down on these days. Evangelical parents don't want catechism and systematic training in Christian doctrine, they want Disneyworld at church for their kids. Then we wonder why Megachurch Johnny is dressing like a vampire and listening to "Christian bands" like Showbread sing about dismemberment with a chainsaw. Children can and should be taught Christian doctrine.'
Unfortunately, her observations are spot on. Last year our church began using Great Commission Publication's Kid's Quest Catechism Club as the basis for our children's church program. To my dismay, our labors were met with varying reactions, ranging from complete indifference to horror that we should be teaching a catechism to our children ("Isn't that Catholic?").
After a year of great work by our children's church workers, I am not too much more encouraged.
Several of the children have really enjoyed learning the basic, great truths of the Christian faith and have shown a remarkable level of initiative...unfortunately, they are the exception and not the rule. The majority of the children have memorized and internalized (more importantly) very few of the questions we have taught. As frustrating as that is, I have to say I really cannot blame them, because without exception, the children report (some of them proudly) that their parents spend no time with them, ever, reviewing the material. With that sad attitude from Christian parents, who themselves want to be entertained in 'worship' and not taught, it is not surprising that most of the children show very little interest in Christain maturity.
By spending between ten and fifteen minutes per day with our nine year-old daughter, she has mastered all the questions to date...not because we have spent so much time on them, but because our enthusiasm and consistency have demonstrated to her that these questions are important. I often try to encourage her by kidding her and saying, "If you learn all your catechism questions, you'll know more about Jesus than ninety-five percent of the adults in church!" She laughs, but unfortunately it is true. And unfortunately, more often than not, the attitude of the parents is learned very well by their children.
While the church / congregation has a corporate responsibility to disciple and nurture her members, ultimately the responsibility for our children's discipleship and nurture falls on the shoulders of us as parents. Woe to us for continuing to shirk our God-given responsibility and privilege!