What Did You Learn at Church Today?

Each Sunday afternoon, thousands of kids across America blink nervously as they try to concoct an answer to this seemingly simple question.

“Well, weren’t you listening?”

Not that your kids usually have trouble finding things to say. You’re typically looking for ways to keep them quiet. But ask them what they’ve learned in Sunday School, and all you’ll hear is the dull hum of your minivan as you pull out of the church parking lot.

If you are concerned for your child’s soul, the fact that talking about a Sunday School lesson is often difficult may be alarming. Maybe you’ve tried to tighten the screws a little, to no avail. While talking to our children about spiritual things will always take wisdom and finesse, below are just a few suggestions of how you might be able to enter more fruitful discussions about church with your kids:

  • Don’t “quiz.”
    All week, the possibility of a pop quiz hangs over your kids’ heads. Don’t make Sunday a day for quizzing. Remember what you are trying to do. The success or failure of their Sunday morning experience rests on more than just what they “learned.” You are trying to assess what God is doing in their hearts, not just what is filling their heads. We make this distinction quite easily when listening to a sermon in “big church,” so let’s do the same for our kids. If your child has trouble answering the question, he hasn’t failed a quiz. You may just need to keep probing, take a different approach, or try again later.
  • Ask creative questions.
    Your child isn’t necessarily thinking in terms of what she “learned” at church. You could ask other questions, such as, “Who did you sit next to today?” or “What was your favorite song this morning?” Obviously, these questions serve to segue into a conversation about your child’s spirit.
  • Look at their “Take Home” papers.
    Most of our Sunday School curricula provide colorful and helpful publications for your child to take home with them. Take a few moments later in the day to talk through the paper with your child. Often, this will jog their memory, solidifying the truths they discussed that day in class. We’re used to throwing away stacks of glossy junk mail every day, but these are different. Use them. That’s why we have them.
  • Talk to their leader/teacher.
    Take five minutes to stop your child’s Sunday School teacher in the hall and ask them what she has been covering in class (Don’t forget to thank her for her hard work!). Your child’s teacher will appreciate the fact that you take what she is doing seriously. And you’ll have a much clearer grasp of how God is using the church in the life of your child.
  • Turn the tables.
    Instead of asking your child what he learned in class, try sharing what God is doing in your heart some time. Set the example by showing your children how you listen to a Bible message and try to apply it to your life. You can even ask your kids to help you to obey God in that area by praying for you. This might take some humility on your part. But what could be better for your kids to see?
  • Don’t schedule spiritual talk.
    It’s sort of awkward for us parents to try to talk about spiritual things on Sunday afternoon and then drop them for the rest of the week. Don’t schedule a time to be spiritual. Follow the wisdom of Deuteronomy 6: “Thou shalt teach [God’s Word] diligently to your children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” You’ll find that if you cultivate an atmosphere of openness about spiritual things–instead of relegating the Bible to certain specific times–you’ll be a lot more successful in your conversations with your kids.

Of course, these are just a few suggestions. There are lots of ways to assess what God is doing in your child’s heart through their church. But in our homes, more than anywhere else, authenticity is so crucial to ministry. If your children see that you are cold towards Gospel truths, they will tend to be as well. But if you display a warmth and humility and obedience to God’s Word, your testimony will shine in their hearts.

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  1. […] What Did You Learn at Church Today? […]

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