Category Archives: Family Discipleship

Rewording of Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles- Part II

Part I of this series was begun so long ago, and yet I still receive requests to continue! I must admit, part of the reason I haven’t moved on in this series is because I’ve been stumped about how to handle the following section. I feel inadequate to the task to flesh out what Dear Charlotte gifts us to use for our little ones’ education. But I will do my best and I ask that you discuss freely in the comments!

To continue our discussion of dear Charlotte’s 20 Principles, we’ll look at what we CAN do to teach our children. I don’t know about you, but after reading all the ‘thou shalt nots’ of number 4, I wondered what was possibly left! Thankfully, Charlotte gives us some really excellent thoughts about how to best teach our littles.

5. The only means a teacher may use to educate children are the child’s natural environment, the training of good habits and exposure to living ideas and concepts. This is what CM’s motto “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life” means.

So here are the three weapons in the Charlotte Mason educational arsenal; environment, habits, ideas. Three simple, powerful ways parents can influence their children toward education. A more detailed of each follows.

6. “Education is an atmosphere” doesn’t mean that we should create an artificial environment for children, but that we use the opportunities in the environment he already lives in to educate him. Children learn from real things in the real world.

In my mind, this point of educational philosophy is placed squarely in the parents’ laps. This isn’t about what a parent can ‘work up’ to create a child-centered atmosphere- imagine preschools where the environment has been carefully engineered to be childish- instead, this point sees that child as an appropriate part of the existing environment. And the existing environment of the home is the exact right place for education to take place.

What are our homes like? What would an ideal environment look like? I believe that Charlotte is advocating for an environment that is rich in things an educated *person* (not simply child) should have a relationship with. In my mind’s eye, I’m envisioning a garden filled with flowers, vegetables and herbs to be tended, handled, prepared and consumed- so the child is not only learning *about* the plants, but is also learning about the *life* of the plants. I see a library that is full of living books that speak with the voice of the author- here the child meets them one by one and spends many an hour ‘discussing’ their stories and views of the world. Here, too, the child brings the authors together to compare and contrast their ideas and then, to add his or her own. I see a telescope, an abacus, walls filled with maps, pets to tend, instruments to play, and friends to pray with and to enjoy.

Daybreak 2007

The environment in which we rear our child should be nourishing- emotionally, spiritually, educationally. We should fill our lives with the things and experiences that draw us to a deeper place in our community, ourselves, our God.

M.F. Jerrold once wrote in the Parents National Education Union newsletter, “…there is nothing in the way of direct teaching that will ever have so wide and lasting effect as the atmosphere of the home… the atmosphere emanates from ourselves- literally is ourselves; our children live in it and breathe it and what we are is thus incorporated into them.”

There was never a scarier or more wonderful thing written concerning how we may educate our children. Being the living, breathing example we wish our kids to follow is one powerful way to educate them. Allowing them to see us being self-disciplined, kind, interested in the world, curious, loving, humble, happy, thankful, careful- just letting them see good things in us- is one third of a Charlotte Mason style education.

But that means that the opposite is also true- our laziness, stinginess, apathy, pride, callousness, anger, discontent, carelessness- all these things may ALSO be a part of what our children are breathing in (gulp!).

Let’s start with an honest appraisal of our children’s environment, our educational atmosphere. Then, let’s continue with prayer and seek the Lord to help us in the areas we are weak. Let’s not get stuck in guilt and shame over the things we struggle with- let’s instead allow our children to see us admitting our sin & the places we fail. This is a good lesson for our children to learn.

7. “Education is a discipline” means that we train a child to have good habits and self-control.

Here is Charlotte’s expression for the need for order. One of my favorite new ideas is ordo amoris (discovered via one of my favorite blogs of the same name) which was described by C.S. Lewis (in the Abolition of Man) thusly:

“St Augustine defines virtue as ordo amoris, the ordinate condition of the affections in which every object is accorded that kind of degree of love which is appropriate to it.Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought. When the age for reflective thought comes, the pupil who has been thus trained in ‘ordinate affections’ or ‘just sentiments’ will easily find the first principles in Ethics; but to the corrupt man they will never be visible at all and he can make no progress in that science. Plato before him had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting and hateful.”

I believe that likening education to a discipline means setting all things in their proper order- facts, experiences, and relationships. Our first discipline is a right relationship with God- our relationship with *everything* else is determined by this primary discipline being in the right place. When this first discipline is in place, we can rightly discern everything else- astronomy flows *from* God and points back to Him; Algebra comes *from* God and reflects back to Him; Poetry comes *from* God and reflects back to Him.

So, as parents, we acknowledge the need for good discipline- good order- in our lives. And we assist our children to create good discipline/habits from childhood to assist them as they discover ordo amoris in their own lives. So we help them practice simple disciplines- obedience to parents, making the bed each morning, completing a task well and thoroughly.

But, to me, this isn’t only about what we love most, it’s about the process of discerning what is most worthy of our love. So our children walk the pathways with various authors, listening to their ideas, studying the impact of those ideas on history and then comparing both to what they know is right. For our children who have discovered God’s primary place in his/her world, they will be comparing the ideas to scripture. For our children who have not discovered God’s primary place, they will be comparing the ideas to the vein of man’s morality. Either way, they are gaining the discipline of weighing the *worth* of an idea- as adults do.

8. “Education is a life” means that education should apply to body, soul and spirit. The mind needs ideas of all kinds, so the child’s curriculum should be varied and generous with many subjects included.

Education is not only what is learned in books. Education is discipleship. Education is child rearing. So, then, education is the sum of the life we give to our children. It’s the books we read, the math problems we solve, the garden we tend, the courses we run, the instruments we play, the cultural events we attend, the church we serve in- EACH of these together are the sum of education. Just as a child needs a well-rounded diet for proper physical health, a child needs a well-rounded set of experiences and exposures for educational health. So a child needs books and art and exercise and a chance to work. All the many things that we call ‘life’ are, indeed, education and come together to inform the child about the world we all live in and his place in it.

We see the value of our child ‘tasting’ many different dishes so s/he may discover what kinds of food are most to his/her liking. So we spend time exploring as many kinds of ideas & experiences as we can knowing that our child will begin making the connections that are appropriate to him. This *life* is not about memorizing rote facts for the sake of knowing rote facts, but is about discovering one’s individual gifts and talents. As our children discover aptitudes and affinities, s/he is also discovering callings to service and his/her own path to wholeness. And isn’t that the real goal of education? To adequately prepare a child to pursue passions, to live independently and to serve well?

Well, my friends, I certainly hope the post has been worth the wait! And I hope to continue the series sooner rather than later. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these points!

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Pigeon Milk

A few months ago, Alex and I had a disagreement.  He asked what baby pigeons eat and I told him they eat bugs and such. He disagreed and told me they eat milk as babies. I calmly explained that, no- birds are not mammals and only mammals produce milk for their young. He said he’d seen on a nature show that baby pigeons eat milk. I explained that he’d misunderstood- birds are not mammals and only mammals make milk. He insisted that baby pigeons eat milk. So, I said that he misunderstood and just let it go without further exploring the idea since I knew I was right (bad homeschool mommy!). Even though he was willing to drop it, I knew he still believed that pigeons make and drink milk.

Alex was right. Pigeons make and eat milk.

I recently saw this on Facebook:

 

 

And it got me thinking… the teacher above (if this isn’t just a mock-up to make a point) wants the student to be quiet and allow erroneous teaching, likely so the class can run smoothly. But the little boy refuses to allow an incorrect teaching to stand. He won’t allow the falsehood (intentional or mistaken) be left alone. I can imagine that the teacher felt the boy was being disrespectful, questioning his reasoning, his ability to think, his authority over the class even.

This picture made me think of that event with Alex- he’d insisted he was right about the pigeon milk. He knew what he’d seen- had been taught and had demonstrated before him- and he wasn’t willing to allow me to dissuade him…

In some ways, I guess it would be easy to have a pliable kid- really, Alex is generally pretty easy-going. But when I read the letter in the picture above and I remember that my son was willing to stand up for what he knew was right, it makes me feel good. I want my son to question. I want him to think independently and to take the sum of his knowledge and experience and to stand firm when he knows he’s right. There’s never a need for genuine disrespect (which I believe the teacher above is showing to his students)- disrespect is a failure to appreciate the imprint of God in others and to treat them without regard for that imprint. Questioning is not disrespect.

The flip side of that coin is humility. Alex needs to allow others to find their own path to Truth- he can’t spoon feed it (like pigeon milk) to others. Sometimes they have to find things out for themselves- like his mama did when I saw the nature program myself a few weeks later. Humility also demands that we question ourselves and our own understandings and beliefs when others challenge us. Instead of stubbornly sticking a point, humility allows us to ask the question again- even if our original answer is confirmed.

I hope that my son is gleaning from Brian and I the ability to stand firm, to allows others room for their own exploration and the ability to graciously accept correction when we are wrong. I hope these are the kinds of lessons that my kids are getting from us- their imperfect teachers and parents.

But I am really proud that Alex stood his ground. And pigeons make milk- who knew!?!

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The place of virtue in the Christian home

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how children become the adults they become. Specifically, I’ve been pondering the ways in which ‘unpleasant’ things like responsibility, duty, and honor are learned. I know that some families have specific instruction in these topics, selecting stories or studies that focus on a specific character trait. But people were responsible long before someone wrote a curriculum about it. People displayed duty and honor without being told they should be dutiful and honorable. Even people who aren’t Christians can be and are responsible, dutiful and honorable… How? How have some people been able to instill these qualities in their kids? Install? Perhaps it’s just gleaned?

I have heard a lot of derision against the idea of Christian parents raising ‘righteous pagans’ almost as if we parents, by the quality of our parenting, can somehow convert our children into Christ-followers (look- no saving relationship required! Just be sure to read the Bible every night and don’t squash their little spirits and souls and they’ll love God!).  I don’t believe we can ‘raise up’ Christians. We can certainly ‘raise up’ church-ified kids who know how to talk the talk, but we cannot create salvation in our children. Ultimately, their spiritual state is between them and our Father.

So what does it mean to raise up’ children in the way they should go? What can it possibly mean since people don’t inherit holiness or salvation from their parents?

I’ve been thinking a lot about those righteous pagans. Sometimes (thanks Literature degree), I think about Dante’s ‘virtuous pagans’ who occupy the first (least horrible) circle of hell. These people are composed of the good people of the world who don’t know Jesus (perhaps an imagining of where He went during His 3 days in the tomb?). People like Virgil and Homer and Ovid- people who did nothing ‘bad’ and actually did some good things and yet, due to the basic corruption of all flesh apart from Christ, cannot enter Heaven…

Can Christian parents do anything BUT raise virtuous pagans? Since we can’t ‘save’ our kids- they need their own personal relationship with Jesus to do that (and we don’t control their hearts)- what ‘s the best we can do for our kids?

I’ve been thinking about my parenting instincts- why is it important that my kids learn to clean up after themselves? Why is it important that they know how to complete a project, offer people basic respect, understand how to accept ‘No’ without a melt down? It’s because the BEST I can give my kids is virtue- not holiness.

Virtue (perhaps Dear Charlotte would have called this magnanimity?)- is the ability to choose a way that is higher than base flesh. It’s the ability to exercise some control over the corrupt flesh. Virtue tells the man- Christian or not- that he must provide for his family and be faithful to his wife, even if his flesh pulls him toward self-indulgence and lust (second and third circles of hell, by the way). Virtue is what tells a woman she should give out of her own need and strive for a patience, even when she wants to hoard her money and scream whenever her will is frustrated (fourth and fifth circles). Instilling (allowing children to glean?) virtue in our children does two things for them:

First, on a completely material level, virtue allows our children to live quiet, peaceful, secure lives whether they become Christians or not. Since we can’t ‘bestow’ salvation, regardless of how well we parent, virtue literally IS the best we can possibly do for our kids. Virtue is what creates reliable employees (who then have some job security and basic material needs met), peaceful families (who then have fulfilled personal lives) and strong communities (who are then able to care for one another when times are hard). Virtue is the key to peace with this world.

Second, practiced virtue is a support to a Christ-following lifestyle. The child who has been taught to complete a task in honor of his parents has an easier time completing a task in honor of his God. The girl who understands what it means to deny her flesh and clean her room even when (especially when) she doesn’t feel like it, will better be able to deny her flesh and honor her God even when (especially when) she doesn’t feel like it.

Our witness of God’s intervention in our own lives is lived out in spirit and truth, word and deed in front of our children every day (Lord please cover my failings!) to invite our children to remember their Creator, to accept His invitation to make them new. But a careful and intentional focus on virtue is  the most loving gift we can give our children of our own power. Let’s not overlook it.

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Lessons Learned In The Meantime…

It’s been weeks since I’ve posted and, as of today, it’s been weeks since we’ve ‘done school’. I look at my wonderful 36 week curriculum schedule with all my subjects neatly lined up and realize that we’re weeks ‘behind’. I say ‘behind’ even though the beauty of this system is that it holds a fantastic amount of flexibility for my family. We can easily move days around, or work within a specific subject- it’s just awesome like that (thanks to the original Ambleside Online moms who actually created the schedule)…

And yet, I’ve been feeling ‘behind’. Life has gotten in the way of school. Oh, I know that education is the sum of what our children take into themselves and that includes all the lessons learned along the way that are not planned or scheduled, but still, lately, I’ve been asking myself what has been worthwhile during this pause in our official schooling? What have my children been learning while we’ve been away from school?

At the end of March my 15-year-old niece came to live with us. The situation has been unsettled and there is much healing to be done in her heart and mind. When Selena came to stay, all of us in the household had to make adjustments. School time became shorter as I handled phone calls, doctor appointments and therapy sessions. We think that perhaps this week the custody agreement might be finalized and Selena might legally be in our care for the forseeable future.

I ask myself ‘what have my children learned from this new living arrangement’?  It doesn’t take much to see they’ve learned that there’s enough space and love for everyone in our home and that no one gets left behind. They’ve seen that we all matter and that doing the right thing is sometimes hard and requires sacrifice. The atmosphere of this home lately has demonstrated that family is deeply important, but that ‘doing’ family isn’t always easy. Sometimes there is conflict, and we need the Lord so much to know the right way to behave and respond.

Then, about a month ago, our little family traveled to my in-laws to assist them after my mother-in-law’s knee surgery. Since they live just south of Erie, PA we took the opportunity to do some Charlotte-y things like visiting the lake and collecting lake-stones from the beach, spotting red-winged blackbirds for the first time, and visiting a small homestead to discover how the family lives almost completely self-sufficiently (lots of handicrafts going on there!).

Alex, Selena & Fae at the Lake

But during this trip they also learned how to sit quietly next to a fragile loved one and just spend time together. They learned that their presence and beautiful hearts can truly lift the spirits of someone going through something hard. They learned that we can all work together to get the job done and that fun happens in spite of hardship.

The day after we returned from our 9 day visit with the in-laws, I traveled to Albany, NY to collect my youngest sister and her two children. She has an almost 2-year-old daughter and her baby girl is about a month old now. For the past two weeks, we played host and opened our home to them. In this case, my kids learned something about generosity and being hospitable. They learned how to expand their circle of two to include their young cousin. They watched my sister faithfully care for her sweet newborn. They saw how we simply swept them into our daily life and made more room at the table. I think they saw how joy can come from giving one’s self to others. We all cried a little this past weekend as we waved goodbye to the plane that carried this precious little family away to Florida to my mother and grandmother.

As I sit here writing about some of the lessons I think my kiddos might have been receiving from Brian and me (and, mostly, from the Lord Who is their Great Teacher), I realize that the past two months have been opening and deepening the way my children understand family. They are seeing how we, their parens who are trying to live a life that is pleasing to our Savior, seek to serve and care for those around us. I am not patting myself on the back- doesn’t scripture say that even pagans care for those who care for them?- but these are good lessons for any child to learn…

These past months have been filled with lessons about faith, family, service, love, hardship, pain, joy and hope. The kids have learned these from real life instead of our beloved living books, from the script the Father has provided instead of the curriculum I’ve out together. And I’m ok with that; I’m ok with Life being my children’s Teacher.

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Taking Inventory…

It’s that time of the year- in PA Spring is definitely here. For the past three weeks, we’ve had unseasonably warm weather. My hyacinths have bloomed, the trees are budding and we’ve been doing lots of yard work and basking in the warm sun. It’s *also* the time of the year that my local MOPS group sets up their semi-annual consignment sale. So I begin my semi-annual Sorting of the Clothing…

Clothing Management is one of those ‘mom jobs’ I never heard about before I was pregnant and immersed in buying clothing for my little one. There I was, round and expecting in the middle of BabiesRUs, realizing that all these cute little clothes for 0-3 months were WAY too summer-y for a baby expected in mid-October. It hit me that, as a mom, I had to match sizes and clothing with seasons.

Thus began my spring/fall clothing management project. Each spring/fall, I pull out the clothes from the previous spring/fall, try everything on the kiddos and set aside whatever doesn’t fit to either give away or consign at the MOPS sale. Then I take an inventory of what the kids need for the upcoming season- boots, hats, coats, scarves, gloves/mittens and other cold weather attire for the fall & winter and bathing suits, rash guards, sandals, wind breakers, hats, shorts and eyewear for the spring & summer seasons.

So out goes the outgrown and in comes the new (to us) items- I buy probably 80% of my kids’ clothing at the consignment sale. Since Fae is a petite little thing, I only spent about $25 to outfit her for this spring/summer. Alex is in a weird ‘in-between’ stage where it’s hit or miss if a 5/6 will fit him correctly. When the new(er) items are purchased, they are washed and then get put in the closet along with the rest of the clothes for the new season. Any items that may still fit the following spring or fall, get stashed away in each child’s clothing storage bin to be tested for fit at the appropriate time…

So what does this have to do with homeschooling? I was thinking of the many ways we teach our children what is important in a family. In my family, this twice a year inventory & rotation has become part of our spring/fall cleaning. My children take it for granted that mom takes care of making sure they are outfitted for the coming season (Proverbs 31 anyone?). And this simple (laborious) task of making sure my family has well-fitting, seasonal clothing is one thing they will be accustomed to as they grow.

To my children, parents anticipate what the needs of the family will be- they look ahead into the coming months and they prepare the family to successfully navigate what’s ahead. This semi-annual familial habit of taking stock of what we have and what we may need is something that we should implement in a spiritual sense as well.

It’s still Lent for another week or so. During the remainder of this season, I am going to take spiritual inventory- what do I have in my life has been outgrown and needs to be set aside? What new things do I need to bring into my life to be prepared for what lies ahead? We anticipate a move out-of-state before the end of the year; Alex will be completing Kindergarten this summer; Fae will turn 3 and will no longer be a baby (she’ll always be my baby!!); Brian will be taking a new job. What will each of us need during the remainder of this year to be successful?

How to prepare according to the Word...

We are all growing in this family. We are all shedding the old and donning the new. As a mother, I think I bear witness to the growth of my family. I am keenly aware that the clothing that was once so roomy is now pulling across the chest. I notice when the shoes lose the wiggle-room in the toe. And I think I need to be really looking for the way my family is growing spiritually as well- where has someone had a breakthrough? Where is a child in need of a new responsibility or privilege? What do I need to let go of? What do I need to embrace?

I pray that my kids see their parents being serious about spiritual inventory and spiritual preparation. I pray that Brian and I can carefully prepare for the spiritual season that’s coming. It’s time to take stock, to repent, to rejoice and to get ready…

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Real Family Liturgy: Lent 2012

Hello friends!  This past Wednesday began the 2012 Lent season. If you didn’t know, my family really enjoys the cyclical nature of the liturgical year. I say that without ever having been part of a liturgical church. My husband and I use the church calendar to make seasonally appropriate family devotions and here we are again at Lent…

I realized the other day that some may feel that liturgy is a heavy thing- don’t you have to be serious and formal if you’re doing liturgy? How does one celebrate Lent with a 5 and a 2 year old? The focus of Lent traditionally is the need for mercy and that Jesus chose to die for our sins. How can our kids understand these deep issues?

Each year, we pull out our Lenten Wreath. It’s pretty cool- we simply picked up candle holders, added tea lights and glass beads and put it all together in a tray. Beginning on Ash Wednesday (and each Sunday thereafter) we light an additional candle right after dinner. On Good Friday, all the candles are darkened and they stay that way until Ressurection Day when the large white pillar candle- the Christ candle- is lit and we celebrate Jesus’ victory over the grave! When we light the candle each evening, we sing ‘Amazing Love’ . This year, we’re using ‘Lord Have Mercy’  by Amy Edwards as our family devotional. Brian reads the selected scripture passage and I say the included prayer. It’s simple and fast and it gives us a focused opportunity to once again present our kids with the gospel. And as our children grow, these are the holiday traditions they will remember- this is us trying to ‘raise them in the way they should go’. But it doesn’t have to be formal or opressive- I can’t tell you the number of devotions we’ve done with kids sitting half naked on the kitchen table (they like to strip right after dinner). That’s ok- we don’t have to expect perfectly still little bodies, solemnly listening as Daddy talks about salvation (oh, wouldn’t that be nice?). No- we can let our kids be who they are as the liturgy happens. They sit on laps, they finish up their dinners, they hold a baby or a stuffed animal and that’s fine- we make liturgy part of our daily life during this time of year.

I want to encourage you to give liturgy a try. Throughout the year, there are lots of liturgical celebrations. Some holidays we celebrate and use as devotions include Lent, Passover, Easter, Thanksgiving, Advent and Christmas. We have special symbolic devotionals we do for each of these and I hope to find more celebrations to center around Jesus!

May you and your family have a blessed Lenten season. May you understand the enormity of our Father’s sacrifice and our Savior’s victory. May you repent of old sins and move forward into the new way the Lord has for you. Blessings to you all as we approach Easter!

Bet you can't even tell Fae isn't wearing pants!

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Little Boys, Young Men and the Church

Earlier this week, I came across this article by David Murrow which discusses why young men seemed to have abandoned the church. As the mother of a five-year-old son, I spend a LOT of time thinking about how I want my son to grow up, how I hope to share my faith and what kind of history I want him to have when he leaves home to make his own life. The idea that something is ‘chasing’ young men away from the faith piques my curiosity. Along with several other issues, Murrow lays the responsibility for this phenomenon at the feet of female youth leaders and the accompanying tenor of their groups which, he says, alienate young men and Sunday school programs whose design either ignores or oppresses boys’ inherent make-up.

Murrow says that Sunday school systems are geared toward girls/women in that they require verbal, social interaction in which girls usually excel and boys sometimes don’t . He says that the system itself is hostile to how boys learn…  Hmmmm- as a homeschooler, this sounds familiar…

Sunday schools ARE systems based on government school models. Children are separated from their parents, age-graded, and are set homogenized tasks that are generally acknowledged by some outward reward like stickers or points. Now, I think there are some very nice things that children can learn in Sunday schools, but as a homeschooler, I have a hard time defending a system that is not Biblical (there are no Sunday schools in Scripture) and is based on a system that I believe is inherently flawed.

Give it your best guess- is this a Sunday school class at church or a government school class?

Sunday schools do not personalize a discipleship program geared toward each boys’ unique abilities and interests, just as government schools don’t personalize the academic education of their students.  Why would we expect a system that doesn’t work on even an academic level to have deep impact on a spiritual level? Just because Christian materials are used and people of honorable intent do the teaching doesn’t mean there will be significant differences in outcome. If the best students are generally held back by the lowest common denominator in public school, doesn’t it stand to reason that the same thing would happen in any public school based educational system? Sunday schools don’t encourage kids to excel or to explore deeply as God leads. That’s just not how the curriculum is designed.

Murrow goes on to say that women-led youth groups which focus on feelings, emotion, and expression alienate young men. Whether women should be teaching or in leadership positions over young men is a different post entirely (lol!), but the idea is the same as it is in Sunday school: where is this kind of discipleship- this kind of spiritual training- found in Scripture?  It’s NOT. There is no such thing as youth culture in scripture. The Bible doesn’t cast young people as a strange breed of human, separate from the main body of believers (or unbelievers) and needing special (and often ridiculous, twaddley, insulting) programs to introduce them to Christ.

So how *are* boys and young men designed to hear and respond to God?

C’mon, homeschoolers- we know this, right?

God designed people to learn in *families*. Children learn how to be fully socialized, integrated adults (of each gender) by modeling their behavior and ideas after their parents and the other trusted adults in their intimate family circle. For a Christian family, the child is introduced to Jesus through family-based evangelism, that is, the parents/adults model a relationship with God and encourage the child to make a decision to follow Jesus for himself. The actual relationship is between God & the child (oh, how like dear Charlotte’s assertion that the teacher must not interfere with the young student’s interaction with an author’s great thoughts!).

Boys learn to be men by watching their fathers, uncles, brothers and trusted family friends being men. By being *with* their adult male family as they minister, study, fellowship and lead at home, in the church and in the wider community. This is how God designed human beings to learn and is fully supported by those Deuteronomy 6 verses we Christian homeschoolers love so much.

Imagine a church in which every boy  is personally discipled by his father (or a primary surrogate if his father is not present for any reason) and several other strong Christian men. The young man ministers along-side his father when his father responds to some need in the Body, he has continuous opportunity to discuss personal issues with his mentors and to receive guidance from them, and he has authentic relationships with these mentors so that his true personality, gifts, weaknesses and callings are apparent to them. He can’t hide or be polite- they KNOW him and they love him. As this young man grows and becomes a man himself, he is accepted as an equal- fully integrated within the Body as an adult member.

Multi-generational, God-loving, world-changing... and oh so manly!

Young men aren’t abandoning the church/faith because they don’t like talking in Sunday school, or because youth group worship songs are too sappy or because they don’t get their flesh tickled enough by the girls at church- young men are abandoning the church because the church is utilizing non-Biblical methods of instruction. The problem isn’t that the church doesn’t understand ‘maleness’, the problem is that the church doesn’t understand God’s design for family-centered discipleship and, therefore, young men haven’t been taught how to BE men in the church.

If we want to see young men staying in church and influencing the Body in wonderful ways, we have to make sure families worship and learn together so young men know how to BE the church as they come to maturity. We have to return to New Testament styles of worship and discipleship and we have to recognize that God’s design for family is perfect for bringing children up into Him…

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