Tom Ascol on Christian Training of Children

The Founders Blog is one of my favorites. My friends and I had the privilege of hearing Dr. Tom Ascol speak almost two years ago, and God blew us away with his words. Recently, he posted some thoughts on false and true Christian training of children:

Christians must take seriously our responsibility to train our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Merely exposing them for an hour or two a week to religious instruction will not adequately prepare them for a life of true discipleship. We must teach them, love them, show them and blaze a trail in front of them that enables us to say, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Parents and pastors must learn to labor as a woman in birth pangs until Christ is formed in the children under our care (Galatians 4:19). This means that we will guard against encouraging superficial decisions to give mental assent to certain facts and call such decisions conversion.

All of this will require a mentality significantly different from that which too often prevails in evangelical children’s ministries where fun is featured more than faith. Catechetical instruction as well as doctrinal and ethical training should be reclaimed as useful tools in the effort to ground our children in the Word of God. We must not hesitate teaching them the whole counsel of God and speaking plainly to them about the cost of discipleship.

Richard Wurmbrand, who suffered for the faith in Romania during the last half of the 20th century, describes his farewell to children in the church before he left his troubled homeland.

“I remember my last Sunday School class before I left Romania. I took a group of ten to fifteen boys and girls on a Sunday morning, not to a church, but to the zoo. Before the cage of lions I told them, “Your forefathers in faith were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to suffer at the hands of men who would be much worse than lions. Decide here and now if you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ.” They had tears in their eyes when they said, ‘Yes.'”

This is a far cry from whipping children into an emotional frenzy and then asking them, “How many of you want to be those who will give up their lives for Jesus?” Maybe we should hold more Sunday School classes in front of caged lions.

Yes, friends, that’s actually what the Bible teaches about following Jesus. Why would we not teach our children about the God who is worthy enough for us to give our very lives?

For further reading, as Ascol suggests, see Psalm 78:1-8. There we are told to teach our children to have confidence in God so they are not unfaithful like their fathers.


About B Treece
loved by God before I ever loved Him, saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone by the authority of the Bible alone to the glory of God alone, made to enjoy Him forever, happily married with wonder-filled children.

2 Responses to Tom Ascol on Christian Training of Children

  1. I found your reflection on the Christian Training of Children interesting. You make some good points.

    In Christ,

  2. Britt says:

    Thanks for dropping me a line. Yeah, that quote about Wurmbrand always reminds me to be, as John Piper might say, “blood-earnest” about training my children. Their lives are at stake.

    Britt from crossonmyback

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