Unschooling Faith: A Candid Conversation Part 3

(Go here for Part 1, and go here for Part 2.)

What would you say to a fellow Christian who believes in unschooling, just not when it comes to teaching them about God and his word? They believe it needs to be structured. -Jill

I would simply ask them “why?” And see where they take it. Most use verses that are taken out of context, or based on faulty doctrine and rarely do they recognize it because it is what is passed on without real dissection and it fits what has become expected and comfortable. -Pam

If it feels forced, then the kids are not going to accept it in their hearts. Seeing it being lived out will have a bigger impact. A belief in God cannot be structured for it to be genuine. I also know that when I have done Bible studies with my son and it went on for a long time as in a couple of months, It felt like drudgery, and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I could tell he felt that way too. -Gail

We don’t do formal studies in our house. We do have a beloved family tradition of reading aloud together, and Bible is one more of those things. We also discuss everything we read, so we’ve mentored our kids through that, and through knowing it well enough ourselves to bring it into conversation about various life issues, things family or friends are going through, and whatever practical applications arise.

To me that’s the essence of Deut. 6–when you rise up, when you lie down, when you walk in the way. It’s part of the fabric of life.

As far as learning hermeneutical principles, we talk about approaches to interpretation when we encounter doctrine we disagree with–we explain why, and what we endeavour to do in order to form our opinions, rather than just enforcing our opinions. It’s really important that the kids hear about how to put principles into action so that they can do it for themselves and not be crippled with dependence on other people’s statements, however authoritative they may sound. -Cathi

We don’t do set Bible study. We have never set out to “teach” the Bible. We have always had many different resources around that were available if someone wanted to do particular studies [strewing]. We have read from the Bible, from different versions and from children’s Bible story books as often as they have been desired.

We have conversations, studies based on pertinence to everyday events as the kids have wanted. They have read on their own, been part of youth groups in the past … but to create a special time to “learn” the Bible, to create a curriculum of sorts of it, we just don’t. With three young adult children, and two teens, they decide how they want to pursue their relationship with the Lord. We walk ours every day, and they know we are here for and with them as they have questions, concerns, … and we have some great discussions off and on, along the way. We have discussed, and they have researched different world views and have a great understanding of what and why they believe what they do.

Our youngest is four. We don’t do Bible study with him. He doesn’t yet have the concept of God, but we do talk about how we were created, the world was created … and answer questions of his wonderment at his age appropriate understanding. We will always have the resources and opportunity available for him, and will naturally discuss and study things as it intertwines in and through all areas of life. -Pam

With life! We have tried all the Bible study family hour stuff and it never turned out right. We use opportunities through our day to share the Word on a topic or what God may think about something. About 2x a week I will play a Keys for Kids story, Down Gilead Lane or Adventures in Odyssey during breakfast or while they are playing. Mostly life moments! -Karla

As someone who was made to do devotionals as a kid, I’ve only NOW begun to find my own way of getting my personal time with God in. But it comes in SO many forms and ways and times. If I need more dedicated time, I take it. But, like eating, I never dictate that time by a clock. Every day I need to eat. Every day, I have time with God. For me, it’s finally become something that’s woven into life. In all my years growing up in private schools and church, I’ve never felt so close to Him nor so strong in my faith. -Stacie

What do you say when someone quotes “train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6)? -Jill

I say that first off, this is a proverb, not a command nor a promise. It’s of the same type as “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Proverbs are little nuggets of general wisdom. They are not laws from God.

Secondly, the more literal translation of that verse would read “educate a child according to his nature and he will not depart from it.” That puts a very different spin on it, doesn’t it? – Mari

This is from a Jewish Rabbi about Proverbs 22:6 (train up a child in the way he should go/he is bent):

“The essence of education, however, is planting, enabling a child to develop in his own way, to utilize his own strengths and character traits, to grow on his own. This is chanoch lana’ar al pi darko, educate a child according to his own way. As the Vilna Ga’on comments, forcing a child against his nature, even if successful at first, is a recipe for unmitigated disaster… Like planting, chinuch requires patience. When bringing up my own wonderful, sometimes-rambunctious children, of whom my wife and I are exceedingly, and I hope rightfully, proud, I would repeat over and over again – patience.” (source) -Aadel

So far this makes me feel better. I feel like I’ve been failing my kids for not being able to consistently do bible studies. -Adrienne

Get to the root of your “why” behind believing that you NEED to do so. What is your purpose for doing so? Is this in alignment with how the kids learn, how they want to learn, what other options and choices can be considered. -Pam

I wouldn’t worry about that. I’m far more concerned that they have exposure to the Scriptures and hear how it all fits with real life than that they “study” anything. Our youngest has taken to listening to radio preaching by choice, and one of our daughters chooses to attend the Bible study with us. They each did so in response to their own needs. That they know how to access many forms of support is important to me. -Cathi

Thank you all for your input. I have a few different ideas to pursue now… But I have to tell you all what happened last night. I was sitting at our bookcase, looking through our books to see if anything might jump out at me in regards to this topic. My son came and sat with me and we started talking. I said, “I really want to help you enrich your personal relationship with God – if that’s something that appeals to you. If so, how can I help?”

He replied, “I want to know how to read the bible better.”

Great! Then my husband came and joined in the conversation. That night he showed our son his old bible from when he was about our sons age – until his mid 20’s. He showed him verses he had highlighted, how he related the verses to others… I was so thankful for how God brought it all about! -Denise

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