Soon members of the Church of God will be observing God’s Feast days, which point us toward the return of Christ and the eventual establishment of the Father’s Kingdom on Earth. The Church is in a similar situation as to that of the children of Israel about to enter into the Promised Land. God’s chosen people at that time were told that if they were to prosper and grow in the land God would give them, they would need to follow His laws and His ways. An environment for growth would ideally be created if they would internalize God’s laws and teach those concepts and principles to their children.
God’s directions and promises were specific:
“…And that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the Lord God of your fathers has promised you…” (Deuteronomy 6:2).
“And the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. Then it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to observe all these commandments before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:24-25).
A major factor in their success would be how well and how effectively they taught God’s ways to their children.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).
God gave instructions to parents that they must first understand and internalize His laws and ways and then teach them to their own children.
As members of the Church we find ourselves waiting and preparing to enter into the promise of the Kingdom of God. The same principles that applied to Israel’s success in Canaan apply to us today. One question that we must ask ourselves is whether we are fully applying the principles found in Deuteronomy 6.
In relation to teaching our children, does the Church’s traditional model for youth instruction follow God’s directive that parents are primary teachers of biblical principles? Generally our youth instruction follows a Sabbath school or teen Bible study model, where Sabbath school i nstructors teach materials provided by the Church. Parents may or not be involved in these lessons. Oftentimes parents assume the role of supporting the instructors.
This injunction for parents to be responsible for their children’s moral and spiritual learning was the topic of the 2014 GCE plenary session, “UCG Youth Instruction Program—A Deuteronomy 6 Model,” which was presented by Randy and Kay Schreiber. The Deuteronomy 6 model is a “parents first” concept with the Church supporting and supplementing parents’ teaching, not supplanting their responsibility.
The Life Application Bible Notes correctly state:
“God emphasized the importance of parents’ teaching the Bible to their children. The church or Christian schools cannot be used to escape from this responsibility…Eternal truths are most effectively learned in the loving environment of a God fearing home […]
“The Hebrews were extremely successful at making religion an integral part of life. The reason for their success was that religious education was life-oriented, not information-oriented. They used the context of daily life to teach about God. The key to teaching your children to love God is stated clearly in these verses. If you want your children to follow God, you must make God part of your everyday experiences. You must teach your children to see God in all aspects of life, not just those that are church related.”
The United Church of God has begun implementing a change in its approach for youth instruction. We will continue various youth programs and activities, but we are moving to a “parents first” emphasis with UCG youth programs. UCG is here to support and supplement parent’s teachings.
This issue of United News gives more information on how we are working to make this Deuteronomy 6 model a part of our Church culture in order to create an environment for growth now and in the world to come. We thank you for your involvement in the growth of future children of God.