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Hausvater: /HAUS-fah-ter/
noun (German)
1. Housefather.
2. Spiritually responsible head of household, including the housefather as assisted by the housemother.
>> Example: "As the Hausvater should teach it [Christian doctrine] to the entire family ..."
(Martin Luther, Small Catechism, 1529)

Pastor Timothy Pauls, Guest Teacher for Bible Class, Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, Marshall, MI, 5 October 2008 (posted here by permission)


Pastor Timothy Pauls, editor of Higher Things, extols the Hausvater’s role in communicating the Gospel to his family and the importance of children attending church with their parents from the very earliest age.

Pastor Pauls identifies the role of parents in the spiritual nurturing of their children: “You are, as parents, the greatest influence over your kids. And I am surprised at the number of parents who say, ‘Well, we leave the catechesis of our children in the hands of our pastor at church.’ … I take my kids to the dentist, but we still make sure they brush every day, because that’s not the dentist’s job. God gave our kids to us. It’s our task to make sure their teeth are still in relatively good shape when they leave home. And the devil doesn’t care whether our kids have clean teeth or not. He very much wants to make sure they don’t care about the Gospel anymore. He would love to have them say, ‘I don’t see why this forgiveness is necessary for me.’ So if making sure that the kinds brush their teeth is a challenge ... you can bet that teaching them the ways of the Lord will be an even greater challenge yet, because the devil, the world, and the sinful flesh—your kids’ and your own—will be at work to discourage you from doing so. That’s why Luther very wisely wrote the Small Catechism not for pastors to teach teenagers, but as the head of the household should teach to his family from a very early age. … He also writes about the father of the house as the Hausvater, the ‘house father,’ teaching the kids, teaching the family … to train up a child in the way he should go, from the earliest of ages.”

Pastor Pauls recalls a pastor’s wife, sitting in the pews with three or four children, who recognized the true value of her difficult task: “I don’t get much out of church these days. But I do hear the invocation, because the kids aren’t goofing off yet. And that tells me that I’m baptized, ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.’ And I may not hear much more after that, while I’m training them how to act in church, but later on I’ll receive the Supper, I’ll receive Christ’s Body and Blood for the forgiveness of sins. And I know I’ll get home, forgiven in God’s grace.”

Pastor Pauls comments on the new trend to put young children in the church nursery rather than bringing them into the sanctuary: “Keep the kid in church, that they might learn how to act, how the Divine Service goes, and that they might hear God’s life-giving Word.”


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