Should We Teach Doctrine to Children?
Doctrine is just a fancy word that means “teaching” or “something that is taught.” In the church, we use the term doctrine to refer to the teachings of the Bible. In my book, doctrine and theology are fairly similar. We have the doctrine of God, the doctrine of man, the doctrine of salvation, etc.
Doctrine is important. Yet doctrine is often times deep and can be difficult to understand. Because of this, some may shy away from teaching doctrine or theology to children and teens.
But why? It is important to teach them the stories of the Bible, such as Noah’s ark, Daniel in the lion’s den, Saul blinded on the road to Damascus, and of course the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. But at the same time, we need to convey to our children that these are more than stories; they are factual and historical events that have been recorded in the Holy Scriptures so that we can learn from them. When we teach the stories, we need to teach their doctrine as well.
For example, Noah’s ark is about more than a man building a boat and saving lots of animals during a crazy rain storm. It is about God’s punishment of the disobedient and His saving of the righteous. Do we need to be careful about how we teach these doctrinal truths to children? Of course! But they need to be taught, nevertheless.
As a Southern Baptist, myself and my church adhere to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. As a youth pastor, I have just finished walking our students through a lengthy study of this doctrinal statement, which explains our biblical understanding of the Scriptures, God, Jesus, man, sin, church, end-times, social concerns, war, religious liberty, marriage and the family, and other areas.
Why would I do this? Why would I walk a group of teenagers through a dull and dry doctrinal statement? Because it teaches truth. Because it lays out the truths of the Bible in a well-organized and easy to understand way. Along the way, I made sure to enforce the idea that the Baptist Faith and Message was only our guide. It does not replace the Bible, it simply explains to us what the Bible teaches.
In the past, I have also used Matt Chandler’s “The Apostle’s Creed” study to teach a group of students doctrine and theology. As long as we proceed with the understanding that the Bible is what is authoritative–not the creeds or confessions–then this is a great way to teach truth to anyone young or old.
This article is for everyone: pastors, youth ministers, Sunday school teachers, discipleship leaders, parents, grandparents, etc. Just about everyone has children and teens in their life, whether in the home, in the church, in school, or elsewhere. Don’t miss your opportunity! Don’t shy away from teaching the deep doctrinal truths of the Scriptures to anyone of any age. We all need truth!
Doctrine can be taught to anyone willing to listen and learn. The means may vary, but the message remains the same. The terminology may need to be tweaked, but the truth does not.