By Dr. Dennis Bowman
Happy are the “pushers”: for they get
on in the world
Happy are the hard-boiled: for they
never let life hurt them
Happy are they who complain: for
they get their own way in the end
Happy are the blasé: for they ever
worry over their sins
Happy are the slave-drivers: for they
Happy are the knowledgeable men of
the world: for they know their way
Happy are the trouble-markers: for
they make people take notice of
(Written by J. B. Phillips, a British New Testament scholar, quoted in Philip Yancey’s book Jesus I Never Knew, page 113.)
It is startling how far we are removed from our Judo-Christian heritage. Instead of believing what Jesus preached in the Beatitudes, most people have adopted Philips’ translation of this great sermon. In spite of the fact we have good sermons every Sunday, we find this does not result in people developing a biblical worldview. The evidence is overwhelming that preaching alone does not get the job done, especially with our youth and children. While it is true the Bible tells us we are saved by preaching, it also says in Deuteronomy 6:7: “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy 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.”
When working with youth and children, it is important we do more than just “talk” to them, but we talk “with” them. This is what the scripture tells us. The word teach comes from a Hebrew word that lends itself to the type of discussion you might have between a son and father regarding a recent football game. It involves asking questions, listening to the response and then asking further questions. I have been using this approach over the last year with the youth and children. It is amazing what they say and even more exciting when you see the “light bulb” go on in their mind and they finally grasp the concept you are teaching. The days are passed when individuals will take everything we say from the pulpit as the absolute truth. Without dialogue between the pastor, Sunday school teachers, youth and children, we will never get our view across to them. The listeners don’t always seem to understand how to apply what we say to their lives and we have to help them do this through discussions.
George Barna, in his book, Think Like Jesus, makes this statement on page 179: “I have concluded that the question-based method is probably the most effective because it forces people to think, to own the answers they come up with, and to translate the questions into personal applications. However, the more important matter is to adopt a framework that works—whatever the framework my be—and stick with it.” This seems to be consistent with our scripture in Deuteronomy 6:7. As parents and religious leaders, we must help our people, especially our children, to integrate the basic principles of the gospel into their everyday lives and this is not always easy for them. Churches who are successful in developing a biblical worldview are starting the developmental process when children are four or five years old. This makes sense to me as a psychologist since we know the moral foundation of most Americans is generally in place by age nine. As leaders, we need to assist our parents and provide them with techniques to assist them with properly educating their children. We have to realize our children and youth spend little time in church each week and how much time they spend in the world and with the parents. This is where the main teaching must take place—the home.
Barna provides some techniques that will help us teach skills to develop and maintain a biblical worldview. He states that Bible study techniques, memorization, logic, and critical thinking are all skill we can use. We must teach people how to apply what they are taught to their everyday lives.
Galatians 6:7: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” Let’s sow the right seeds in our children that we might reap spiritually motivated children for the next generation.
Dr. Dennis E. Bowman pastors Family Worship Center in Rushville, Indiana, works as a psychologist for the Indianapolis Public Schools, and is an adjunct instructor at Indiana Bible College in psychology and counseling. Dr. Bowman’s e-mail address: ddebowman@msn. corn.