One of our most popular posts on the Life Threads blog so far was this one – quoting Charles Spurgeon and his thoughts on Children’s Ministry.
A lot to say about raising children. Spiritual Parenting is a book of his messages on spiritually nurturing boys and girls.
Spurgeon lived from 1834-1892, but voiced some of the same concerns that we have today.
The church takes under her maternal care those children who have no such parents [those who spiritually nurture their children]. I regard this [Sunday School] as a very blessed institution. I am thankful for the many brothers and sisters who give their Sundays and many of them a considerable part of their weekday evenings also to teaching other people’s children, who somehow grow to be very much their own. They endeavor to perform the duties of their fathers and mothers, for God’s sake to those children who are neglected by their own parents …
But let no Christian parents fall into the delusion that the Sunday school is intended to ease them of their personal duties.
One of the verses Spurgeon references is John 21:15: When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
Spurgeon wrote the following admonitions for teaching children – inspired by that verse.
First before teaching, you must be fed yourself: The Lord gave him [Peter] a breakfast before giving him a commission. You cannot feed lambs, or sheep either, unless you are fed yourself. It is quite right for you to be teaching a great part [of a Sunday] but I think a teacher who does not come to hear the Gospel preached and get a meal for his own soul is very unwise. First be fed, and then go feed.
Spurgeon goes on to describe the work of feeding the lambs.
1. It is careful work. Lambs cannot be fed on anything you please, especially Christ’s lambs. You can soon almost poison your believers with bad teaching. Christ’s lambs are all too apt to eat herbs that are poisonous. If [people] are to take heed what they hear, how much more should we take heed what we teach? Care must be taken in the work of feeding each lamb separately, and the teaching of each child individually the truth that he is able to receive.
2. It is laborious work. With all who teach: they cannot do good without spending themselves. You must study the lesson. You must bring forth something fresh to your class for your child! You must instruct or impress … You dare not rush to your class unprepared and offer to the Lord that which costs you nothing. There must be labor if the food is to be wisely placed before the lambs so that they can receive it
3. It is continuous work. Feed my lambs is not for a season, but for all times. Lambs could not live if they were fed once a week. I reckon they will die between Sunday and Sunday. The shepherding of the lambs is daily, hourly work. When is a shepherd’s work over? How many hours a day does he labor? He will tell you that in lambing time, he is never done. He sleeps between times when he can, taking much less than forty winks, then rousing himself for action. It is so with those who feed Christ’s lambs.
Some inspirational thoughts from long ago.