CLERGY CORNER: Stop raising good kids and start raising saved adults

Posted on 11 January 2018 by LeslieM

Meet Kevin and Sandy Chapman, parents of four boys and a recently adopted daughter. They were high school sweethearts who have, at various times in the last five years, fostered 15 different girls.

Life is busy. Kevin and Sandy both work while juggling church activities, four different sports schedules, helping with the boys’ homework and caring for an infant.

It’s a struggle at times,” says Kevin, as they work to model for their children a life surrendered to God, and pray other families will follow suit. In their pursuit of intentionally investing in their children’s spiritual lives, the Chapmans will tell you that it doesn’t come without its challenges.

Sandy says, “We’re not perfect by any means… It’s okay to mess up; it’s all a learning process. Ask for forgiveness; know what you did and make right of it.”

Find solace in knowing that building and modeling a lifestyle centered upon God — a lifestyle your children will hopefully adopt as adults — won’t materialize overnight (but is nonetheless, still mandatory). Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” So disciple you must.

Yet, an increasing number of church-going parents are choosing “do not,” expecting the church to fill the void. In his book Youth Ministry: What’s Gone Wrong and How to Get It Right, David Olshine calls this approach to discipleship “payroll entitlement,” which is the hiring of professionals to care for and shepherd youth apart from disconnected parents. As such, youth ministry “has often-times unknowingly contributed to the breakdown of parents’ role in the discipleship of their children” by accepting the role of the primary disciple-maker. This is a problem.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 instructs parents to impress upon their children God’s commandments—to talk about them at home, in the car and even while eating at Chick-fil-A. To feed and shepherd the flock God has given them… “to be the primary nurturers of their children’s faith,” Olshine writes.

To what end? According to John Piper, it’s a faith that allows for complete satisfaction in God, a faith that is “captured by the Gospel of Jesus,” authentic, sustainable and non-pursuant of behavior modification, and “churchy experiences.” It is faith that changes the heart because Jesus has become their “one, overriding hope and their greatest love,” writes Jack Klumpenhower in Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids. And this begins when parents, like Kevin and Sandy, believe and live as though following Christ is life-changing and “better than anything else.”

Parents, show your children Jesus. Model for them a surrendered life in everyday interactions — exemplifying what it means to love God and love others. Your example is leading your children toward or away from Christ.

To do this, you won’t need skinny jeans or Snapchat. Start with what’s doable for your family and be consistent, and have some fun. Aside from their regular devotional times, Kevin recently gathered the family for a night of listening to and the singing of worship songs. Hugs, tears and forgiveness followed as the Chapmans realigned themselves with God’s priorities.

In addition to impromptu nights of worship music, Sandy encourages parents to keep a prayer journal for their kids. Because every child struggles differently, replace generic prayers for specific ones that address the child’s exact needs, she adds.

Consider sponsoring a child overseas and involve your children in the letter-writing process. Expose them to the realities other children endure; spend time as a family packing and distributing kits for the homeless, talk about how to responsibly engage in social issues; encourage your children to share their faith at school or through the context of their sports — even if they attend a private Christian school; or catch a movie and discuss its message afterword.

It takes work, but even the most regular activities, like driving to school, can be repurposed as discipleship opportunities.

The Chapmans agree that no parent will regret the intentional time spent disciplining their children. They’ll see how God used those moments to stir within their child a longing for Him and His commands.

Their children will have aspired beyond being “good adults,” and instead, by the grace of God, become saved adults who themselves, make disciples.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at The Church at Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. He loves to mentor the next generation of leaders and considers himself a fast food connoisseur. For questions or comments, connect with him on social media: @thecjwetzler.

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