What is Required to Learn?

In my last post I mentioned how in order for our children’s faith to grow, it begins first at home. In Kara Powell and Chap Clarke’s book Sticky Faith, they state that for our children’s faith to grow best, it takes FIVE active adults pouring into a child’s life personally and spiritually. Let us say the children have their 2 parent and a grandparent pouring into their lives. They still need 2 more adults actively involved in their lives for the optimal spiritual growth.

But this growth is not necessarily a growth of knowledge. This is their spiritual formation. This pertains to their likeliness to remain involved in church after they have left the nest, and to practice spiritual disciplines of many sorts. And this is vital for our children to grow, however, this was more of my aim in my last post and possibly another one for the future. Along with spiritual growth, we also know that a knowledge of some sort is needed to pair with this faith which they are growing.

Andy Stanley preached a series last year which caused a great deal of conversation and which he took some hits for. His point was that we get to a point where our Sunday School answers from our childhood, simply because “the Bible tells us so” eventually begins to not be enough. We are cognitive creatures who are bright and inquisitive. We need more than a simple “just because” answer.

So how can we help our children and students learn on a path where their knowledge matches their faith? Enter here the idea of table talk which I brought up in my last post. When our kids begin talking about what they are learning, it begins to stick.

You see, our brain has two different sections for memory. We have our short-term memory, which is often times where we store information we need for a bit. Like back in high school when you crammed all night for that math test. You aced the test, but by the beginning of the next year that information was trivial and you couldn’t remember the least of it. You stored that information in your short-term memory part of your brain.

The other side for memory? You guessed it, it is our long-term memory! To truly learn something and place it into our long-term memory, it involves more than just a pass over once or twice. Remembering what we learn is step one for our learning, but it cannot end there. From remembering, we must be able to understand what we have learned. Understanding involves us being able to describe ideas or concepts of what it is we have learned (Bloom’s Taxonomy).

From there, we must be able to apply, analyze, evaluate, and finally create (Bloom’s Taxonomy). While I will not go into detail for each of these steps (feel free to look more into Bloom’s Taxonomy if you are interested in it), I want to hone in on the final one of being able to create. The beautiful part of when they get to the point of being able to create, is that it is their own authentic faith. By this time, they have learned and been able to think on what they have taken in, and they are able to create and verbalize their OWN conclusion. Not a “because the Bible tells me so” answer, or “because mommy and daddy said so.”

No, at this point, our children have heard all the different sides, and they have taken it seriously enough and put enough thought in that they have decided for themselves what to think.

This is a beautiful place to get to and such a freeing one as well. Yet, it begins with talking about what they have learned. Verbalizing it to hear it again in their own words and beginning to analyze different thoughts and proposals on one topic. When they have done this long enough, they formulate their own thoughts, their own beliefs, and most importantly, their own faith.

And that should be each of our goals. To help them formulate their own faith. Because when they grow up and move out on their own, their faith won’t be able to depend on mommy and daddy anymore. It will not be able to stand on what their youth pastor or teachers said. They will have to face the attacks and claims the world is throwing at them, and interpret it through their own lens of faith. And without that faith to look through, we would have to be ignorant to state that they will be faithful. It may not be impossible, but it is highly improbable.

So lets help our children make their own authentic faith today. Lets help them formulate their own faith that sticks, and their own faith that stands. Because if we do not teach them early and help them form their own beliefs, someone else will, and that can be a scary thought. Always remember, “Recite them  to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise” (Deut 6:7). Continue to talk around the table, and at home with your children daily. We as parents have the largest impact on their upbringing.

I love you guys, and so does Jesus. I hope you continue to long for this water, and continue to drink from it as well. Until next time, blessings to you and your family,

Josh Gentry.

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