Re: “The treatment of children in the Group”

“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” (Proverbs 22:6)

This is not the place to write a handbook on Christian child-rearing. Here is just a sketch of a few brief fundamentals of Christian parenting:

a) Consistency: Children should experience their parents (as well as the Christians who they are together with in the community) as reliable and responsible for their care. The aim is not primarily strictness, but a clear line which helps the children to develop a firm foundation of trust. Nothing is more damaging for children than having unpredictable parents and carers. How we live and what we say about God must be consistent with one another, especially in front of children.

b) Freedom: On the one hand, the fact that children should accept the authority of their parents is in keeping with a biblical upbringing. On the other hand, it is important for parents to accept the freedom of their children as far as possible. A child should never experience life with God as something obligatory. Coercion of any kind to take part in religious activities (including prayer, reading the Bible, discussions about matters of faith) should, for this reason, be rejected. Many of us have experienced how our parents wanted to force their lifestyle on us, and in some cases even tried to hinder us from living as Christians by force. We want to avoid repeating these mistakes the other way around.

c) Family and community: The most important reference persons for a child are its parents, despite the fact that children should be integrated into community life as far as possible. Children should experience the community as an extended family, which the core family is integrated into.