Beginning in November 2014, the United Church of God will be launching a new and exciting format for youth instruction based on the Deuteronomy 6 “parents first” model.
The UCG Vision Statement explains that we must be a Church that is guided by the Holy Spirit and joined and knit together by what each member supplies. Deuteronomy 6 clearly places the primary responsibility of “supplying” godly knowledge and understanding to the youth upon the parents. The Deuteronomy 6 project is intended to support and assist parents with the moral and spiritual development of their children and involve the entire Church in the process.
God gives fundamental guidelines for teaching our children in Deuteronomy: “And these words which I am commanding you this day shall be [first] in your [own] minds and hearts; [then] You shall whet and sharpen them so as to make them penetrate, and teach and impress them diligently upon the [minds and] hearts of your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Amplified Bible).
We have identified these three key pieces.
1. Youth instruction responsibility belongs to the parents and begins in the home.
2. Youth instruction includes all children from birth until leaving home.
3. Youth instruction is supported and reinforced in our Church programs and culture.
Teaching children about God and His principles should not happen only at church at Sabbath school, because:
Parents can teach in the moment. Biblical principles are most effectively taught in everyday circumstances as life happens.
Parents know their own children and how they can learn best.
Parents can teach to their own children’s grade or knowledge level.
Family studies can tie in biblical and moral concepts on many levels.
So how can the members in the congregation be involved?
The United Church of God’s current initiative is to provide a positive environment for growth. Involving all members of a congregation can help to do this (“Deuteronomy 6 - A Whole Church Effort”). It is our duty in the Church, individually and collectively, to support parents in teaching youth to develop their full godly potential. That potential is their calling into the Body of Jesus Christ and the work of the Church, while learning that God’s spiritual laws are practical ways of living (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, Deuteronomy 11:19-20; Psalm 34:11; Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4).
The new Deuteronomy 6 youth instruction program can include the whole congregation by each member having an awareness of youth instruction and the family study topics. Members could get to know all the children by name and attend youth instruction meetings and discussions. Work to connect local programs, studies and topics as much as possible to the monthly youth instruction topic. This can include clubs, Bible studies, youth instruction and studies and/or sermonette/sermon topics.
The United Church God educational team sees the Deuteronomy 6 “parents first” model as a real way to fulfill our vision to become a Church “led by God’s Holy Spirit, joined and knit together by what every member supplies.”