Building Little Pillars in the Faith

HEATHER MOLENDYK|GUEST

Back in the day when my pigtails were tied with ribbons, when my knees were constantly brandishing scrapes and scabs, and when (according to my children) dinosaurs frolicked with my pet saber-toothed tiger in the backyard, I discovered the most remarkable toy.

Winter in South Florida ushers in an opportunity for its sweaty residents to throw open windows and suck coolish air into their lungs. Part of our family’s celebration of this temporary break from the heat was hauling out a big box fan. This box fan would be strategically placed so that the delicious fresh air would be pushed down the hall into the bedrooms. This seasonal item became a wonderful addition to my creative play.

The box fan made a wonderful mountain for plastic army men to wage intense battles. Those little green soldiers could survey the land for miles from that height. With the fan running, all sorts of silly voice effects could be made by speaking or singing into the whirling blades. I learned how to speak robot while hanging out with that box fan. But best of all, that box fan helped me FLY!

Like most preschoolers, a blanket fastened around my neck was enough to transform me into the bravest, most powerful hero the planet had ever seen. I could lift heavy objects. I could jump great distances. I could climb higher. I could move faster. Additionally, when I fastened that magic cape around my neck and lay on my belly in front of that box fan, all I had to do was stretch out my arms to feel the wind in my hair as I soared through the cosmos. Exhilarating!

Shaping Little Children

I was not unique as a little one. I’m sure you have witnessed the change that occurs when preschoolers put on superhero capes or masks. You’ve watched them stand up a little taller, march a little braver, and smile a little broader. Inside each person is a desire to be strong, significant, and courageous.

The greatest joy I have as a teacher is being a part of shaping children into the next generation of heroes. Someday these young ones will be future leaders, policy makers, doctors, inventors, soldiers, parents, and business owners. Will they attack life with boisterous passion and heart for the Gospel? Or will they reluctantly trudge through a damaged world with a hopeless surrender to the muck around them?

In Deuteronomy 11:18-19, the Lord gives his people this command:

You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

There is no option left to the Christian other than to pass on their faith. Whether you have birthed a passel of children or not, whether you delight in the chaotic energy of children or not, whether you love to wave at children on the school bus or not – we all have the task to share the truths of scripture with the next generation.

Teaching our Children Truth

The American church is struggling against cultural messages that teach tolerance is a righteous character trait and doing “whatever-makes-you-happy” is life’s most noble purpose. Truth is the best defense against the lies so often fed to our children. They need Biblical truths taught to them from an early age.

Barna Group and Impact 360 Institute back up these observations in their 2018 report titled Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation:

With the best of intentions, we bubble wrap our kids and create Disney World-like environments for them in our churches, and then wonder why they have no resilience in faith or life. Students are entertained but not prepared. They’ve had a lot of fun but are not ready to lead. [1]

Children’s hearts and minds can only be reached through the Word of God. Jesus is the only One who can transform hearts and bring dead men to life. How do we diligently bring our children to Him?

To equip covenant children with a firm understanding of scriptural truths as they begin their journey of faith, unique tools are needed. I wrote Building Little Pillars as a resource to spiritually strengthen our children’s faith through the teaching of sound Reformed doctrines. Inspired by my son’s class at church, I yearned to give these children something beyond the cutesy Bible stories and coloring pictures they had been working on year after year. Upon finishing this curriculum, these little ones were able to recite the basic tenants of the Christian faith. They understood the power of prayer. They knew what pleases God and makes Him smile.

I will be the first to argue that a healthy imagination is a wonderful gift for children to develop. More important than stimulating creative juices, we need to pull back the veil of our physical reality and see the spiritual battles that take place around us every day.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we don’t “wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

Our children need to be equipped with more than capes and plastic masks. They need to be equipped with the truth of scripture and the security that comes from having a personal relationship with their Creator. More important than imagining that they can fly, our children need to know that they are “more than conquerors” through Jesus who loves them. (Romans 8:37)

[1] Barna Group, Gen Z: The Culture, Beliefs and Motivations Shaping the Next Generation (Ventura: Barna Group, 2018), p. 5

About the Author:

Heather Molendyk

Heather was an imaginative, competitive tomboy growing up in the city of Miami. She spent many barefoot days with her younger brother hunting dinosaurs, building forts, transforming robots, and sending Barbie on archaeological digs. In 2000, Heather not only married the most handsome man in the church choir, but also graduated with a degree in elementary education from the University of Miami. Since graduation, Heather has had the privilege of working with children from all across the world in the melting-pot city of Miami as well as homeschooling her two girls and two boys. Heather is currently working on a “Little Pillars,” a curriculum that teaches preschoolers the doctrines of The Lord’s Prayer, Apostles’ Creed, and 10 Commandments, to be published this August with CDM. When she’s not driving one of her children somewhere in her apple-red minivan, you can probably find Heather sneaking treats to her daughters’ guinea pigs or curled up on the sofa with a good book. You can find her on Instagram at @Heather Molendyk.

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