Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a British preacher, well known for his communication skills both through his preaching and his writing. He converted to Christianity at the age of fifteen, and by the age of twenty-two, he was the most popular preacher in England. Many times he spoke to crowds of over 10,000, without amplification. He preached over thirty-six hundred sermons, and the “Prince of Preachers” is known to be one of the most influential Christian voices of the nineteenth century.
In doing research for a paper, I read some of his comments regarding family and the church.
Here’s what he had to say:
“Tradition was of the utmost service to the people of God in the olden time, before the more sure word of prophecy had become complete and generally accessible. The receipt of truth from the lips of others laid the instructed believer under solemn obligation to pass on the truth to the next generation. Truth, endeared to us by its fond associations with godly parents and venerable friends, deserves of us our best exertions to preserve and propagate it. Our fathers told us, we heard them, and we know personally what they taught; it remains for us in our turn to hand it on.
Blessed be God we have now the less mutable testimony of written revelation, but this by no means lessens our obligation to instruct our children in divine truth by word of mouth: rather, with such a gracious help, we ought to teach them far more fully the things of God. Dr. Doddridge owed much to the Dutch tiles of his mother’s explanations of the Bible narratives. The more of parental teaching the better; ministers and Sabbath-school teachers were never meant to be substitutes for mothers’ tears and fathers’ prayers.“1
Parents are one of the ways that God chooses to make himself known to young people. There is no denying the influence that they have on their children (for better or for worse). Christian parents are to pass on the faith to their children (Psalm 78, Deut 6:6-9).
When Spurgeon says, “Ministers and Sabbath-school teachers were never meant to be substitutes for mothers’ tears and fathers’ prayers,” he is reminding us that the church is to be an ally to parents. Youth ministers and Sunday School teachers are not competing with parents, but they are also not necessary. Sunday School teachers and youth leaders should seek to help parents fulfill their God-given responsibilities as well as speak truth into the lives of young people during the time they have with them.
Spurgeon explains that the church plays a part as well:
“It is the duty of the church of God to maintain, in fullest vigor, every agency intended for the religious education of the young; to them we must look for the church of the future, and as we sow towards them so shall we reap. Children are to be taught to magnify the Lord; they ought to be well informed as to his wonderful doings in ages past, and should be made to know “his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done’.”
The community of believers and the family must work together to point children and youth in the right direction.
May the church listen to the words of this great preacher and seek to teach children and youth to magnify the Lord.
1. Spurgeon, C.H., The Treasury of David, 331. ↩