I hope you were inspired by yesterday’s post. What God has called us to as parents matters so, so much. Our kids are counting on us to love them and educate them. What could be more important than loving them and pointing them to Jesus?
And it is a joy and privilege to bring any soul to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, but allow me to shine the spotlight on what is already a glaring problem in many churches.
Last year, I was with a group of children’s and youth pastors. As I was sharing my heart for families and helping churches to see a vision for equipping and supporting home discipleship, one children’s pastor said with a quiver in her voice, “That is exactly what we need! For years I’ve felt the pressure of bringing kids to salvation. I’ve been treated by parents as if this is part of my job description – they bring their kids to me and expect me to make sure they are saved.”
Wow. I hope you know this is not the job of your children’s or youth pastor… or any pastor. Yes, we are blessed to be in churches where the Gospel is proclaimed and discipleship is taken seriously. But we cannot and should not expect these leaders to bring our children to salvation. In fact, we should desire as parents to have this awesome opportunity!
So how do we work together? I don’t have all the answers. And I don’t know your church context or family situation, but here are 3 simple ways I believe the church and the family can work as partners to raise up the next generation in Christ.
#1 – Committed relationship. Parents, it’s hard for your pastor when you aren’t at church every week. It’s hard for them to know you and your family. (Not to mention, corporate worship is a huge part of our individual spiritual development.) You can negatively multiply this impact for kids. They are missing out on making Christian friends and engaging in Biblical teaching with their peers during critical years of development. Be committed to your local church. No church is perfect, but neither are you so it kind of works out. 😊
A word to children’s and youth pastors… you probably know the sad statistics around how long you stay at one church. It’s dismal. Be committed to your church and the families you are serving even when things get hard. You won’t ever get to see the fruit if you don’t stay around long enough.
Parents and pastors, encourage one another! Partners make the load lighter and we know that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” God desires us to work together in a committed relationship for the sake of our children.
#2 – Two-way communication. I’m going to brag on our family pastor for just a minute. Each and every week he sends a thoughtful, educational, and encouraging email to all of the families of teenagers in our church. Sometimes he’s sharing a resource for home discipleship, other times he’s informing parents on a topic they need a deeper understanding about, or he is simply sharing the upcoming teaching schedule or activity calendar. At the end of each email, he offers parents to respond in some way, “Tell me how the discussion goes!” or “Let me know how I can be praying for your family.” Or “If there’s a topic you want me to cover, give me a call.”
It would be easy to write this off as being part of his job. But I’m guessing if you have a teen you aren’t getting an email like this. If you’re a pastor, consider how this sets your families up for success just by communicating with them.
Now parents, shame on us if we aren’t responding to these kinds of messages! Your children’s, youth, or family pastor can only know you as well as you let them. Do you ask your pastor to pray with you about what’s going on in your family? Do you encourage them when your kids come home talking about how much fun they had in one of their programs? Do you invite them over for a meal to get to know them better? Do you pray for them… and tell them you are praying for them?
These are critical components of two-way communication that benefit your family and your church. Not only that, but they truly honor the Lord.
#3 – Shared tools and strategies. Parents, please hear me out. You may be relying too heavily on church programs to teach your children. What is instead of heading off to a mid-week program at church that divides up your family, you were willing to carve out that same time at home to spend in family worship? Or what if instead of dropping of your teen to participate in a service project, your youth pastor coordinated a service opportunity for families to do together? It is possible and the results have a fantastic impact.
Similarly, your church probably has a wonderful curriculum for kids and teens. It may even have a curriculum that allows all ages to be studying the same scripture at an age-appropriate level. Fantastic! It’s time to make the connection between what’s happening in the church and what is happening at home. Many curriculum developers are already including a take-home piece that parents can use for activity, discussion, and deeper learning at home during the week. Please take advantage of these resources.
Working together in partnership, the church and the family, gives our kids the best of discipleship both in our homes and in our churches. Not only will our children benefit, but I truly believe our churches will be more harmonious places that bring glory to God.