Children are taught to believe. It does not happen by accident. It needs to be the primary concern of faithful parents, grandparents, family members, and Christian friends. This concern for our children's faith requires a keen evangelistic edge for every family, congregation, Sunday school, and youth group. Children need to be taught what to believe, because children believe what they are taught.
Everyday, Christian enemies seek to undermine our children's faith. By Christian enemies we mean the classical enemies named by Luther in the small catechism, "Satan, the world, and our sinful self." Take a few minutes to watch what our children see on television, what they see in movies, and what they encounter on the Internet. Our enemies are bent on teaching them everything except faith in Christ. It teaches them that prayer has no place in schools. It teaches them that commercials should shape our desire and that consumerism is the true nature of life. It teaches that happiness comes in possessing the right things and that self satisfaction is the only true goal in life. Our children begin to take in this false teaching from an early age.
If our children are to have faith, we must all work together to make sure that God's story is told to them again and again from an early age. Children need to learn the stories of the Bible and memorize key passages. This early training in Scripture provides the framework for adult faith later in life. Children need to learn to pray. This includes both memorizing traditional prayers and learning how to talk to Jesus about our lives and our concerns. A good Sunday school program will help with this, but faith needs to be taught in the home as a part of everyday life. Children not only learn from what their parents teach them, but they learn from what they see their parents doing. Parents who study God's word, worship regularly, and pray together as families are preparing their children to have faith. Parents that speak frankly to their children about matters of faith and work to help their children find answers to their questions are preparing faithful disciples who are ready to defend what they believe.
We are very pleased about the new vitality that is happening among congregations joining the new Lutheran landscape in North America. These congregations are making deep commitments to take up the Great Commission of Jesus to make disciples of all nations. Please include the children of our congregations among those to whom we will go, making disciples of them, and teaching them to follow Jesus. We need the best that congregations can offer to prepare them for a life of faith. We need to support their parents in the sacred duty of developing their children's faith in the home. We need to pray for them regularly, love and support them, and put the resources in place to ensure that our children will, indeed, have faith. Let us work together so that our children will learn to preach, teach, and confess that Jesus is God's Word alone!