Clean, beautiful surroundings and orderly behavior are also very impressive. The work of our Sabbath Schools is most beneficial. They offer to parents a strong reinforcement in cultivating right religious habits and emotions in the child. To go into one of our well-conducted Sunday Schools, where order prevails, where the spirit of peace and prayer is uppermost, to join in the singing, to listen to the uplifting instruction, or, better still, to be given opportunity to take active part in this religious service—all these make a deep and lasting impression upon the youthful soul. Parents can do nothing better for their children and themselves than to support loyally their Sunday Schools and other religious organizations.
The habit of attending church should also be impressed during the habit-forming period. But the supreme opportunity of the church lies in its ability actually to convert the youth or maiden during the adolescent period. This is a privilege which neither the church nor the home has adequately comprehended. When the emotional nature of the individual is at white heat, as it then is, impressions made are lasting, and conversion, if made then, will be so deeply impressed that it is likely to last forever.
Churches in general fail to make the most of their opportunity here. They too often stuff the heads of children with religious facts and formulae, feeding them with the husks of theology, instead of giving them the upbuilding food they need. Children, too, often are starving for real spiritual food, hungering for the bread and thirsting for the water of life.
Parents and teachers generally need to correct their methods of presenting the gospel to children, especially to the adolescent, if they would get the results desired. It is their failure to meet the child on his own religious ground, not his indifference to religion that makes the boy and girl leave Sabbath School during the time he most needs such an influence. Let them study and master these problems: Are boys and girls being given ample opportunity for spiritual self-expression? Are the beautiful lessons of the gospel being translated into terms that appeal to their lives?
Our own church, we feel sure, is answering these questions in positive, practical ways better and better every day; but there is still much left to do even among us.
We have in our own church a working system that ministers to the daily moral and spiritual needs of humanity—a constructive Christianity that comes close to our lives. Our church is our opportunity to develop our own spiritual powers and to cultivate those of our children. The church needs our help to carry forward its ministry to mankind; but we need even more the help of the church to enspirit and to comfort our lives and to give to us and to our children the guidance and the training that will keep us all in the paths of safety and peace: