Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deut. 6:4-9)
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
Fathers, teach your children. God commands us to bring up our children in the faith. Our children are in dire need of the word of God; are we giving them what they need? Are we nourishing them in the faith, teaching them doctrine, reading and explaining to them God's word? Or are we sending them to bed each night without it, implicitly teaching them that the Christian faith may be important, but not enough to dedicate a significant portion of our time, not enough to speak about daily?
There are a thousand different things of varying importance that demand our attention each day. Add to that our hobbies and our desire to kick back and unwind after a long day, and it becomes clear that we must be deliberate about our time. What is most important? We cannot do everything. May we be fathers who consider our children's eternal salvation of the utmost importance. Let us not leave our children's catechesis in the hands of the Sunday school teacher or Christian day school teacher who cannot give them the spiritual nurture that they require on a daily basis.
Some people busy themselves in religious activities. They go to church twice a week or more; they teach or attend small groups; they volunteer for different "ministries" in the church. But are they teaching their children? If they are, that is wonderful. There is nothing wrong with committing oneself to these things as long as our God ordained vocations are in order. But if we are busying ourselves at church and neglecting to teach our own children, we have everything backwards. God has called us to train our children in the faith. These other activities are secondary and not required of us.
There is a catechetical crisis in the church. Fathers, man up and love your children by giving them the words of eternal life as often as you are able. And when you fail (and you will), repent, remember your baptism, cling to Christ's forgiveness, and pick up again and teach them.
There are many ways to go about this. In our family, the group consists of a five, four and two year old. We are using the bible, Luther's Small Catechism, and the hymnal in our devotions. We start out trying to memorize a section of the Ecumenical Creeds, Small Catechism, or scripture that we focus on throughout the week. We repeat it a number of times together and then talk about what it means. Then we discuss a handout that is given out weekly at my church called "Kids in the Divine Service." This handout is meant to teach children an aspect of what happens at Sunday morning worship. What does this mean and why do we do it? Then we sing a few hymns. We pick one particular hymn each week to try to learn, and then we sing it each day. Then I read them a passage from the scriptures and try to explain it as best I can.
As you can see, this is pretty simple stuff. You don't have to be a biblical scholar to do these or similar things. All you have to do is devote time to the most important thing you will do in this life: teach your kids the Christian faith. So grab a bible, a catechism, and a hymnal and get to work. It is not glamorous; nobody in the church is going to look at you as a super spiritual guy because you are teaching your own children. But it is vital. And your children need you. Fathers, teach your children.