Sunday, March 9, 2008

the personal touch

There is no substitute for the personal touch. If you are a parent, you have been commissioned by God to disciple your children. Helping your children become disciples of Jesus should not be relegated to a handful of volunteer Sunday School workers.

For starters, disciple-making cannot be completed in its entirety on Sundays between 10 a.m. and 11:15 a.m.

This is what I call "outsourcing discipleship." It has become a trend: American evangelical parents look for churches in which their kids will "feel happy" or "get what they need." Typically, this is the church with the "best kid's program."

"Best" often translates as "biggest." So, megachurches grow ever larger based on which church can offer the most "bells and whistles."

A study I saw once cites the top two reasons people choose one church over another. There was a close tie between two factors:

1. The best kid's program.

and

2. The best preaching/teaching.

Yes: in that order.

Studies have shown that more than a majority of parents will actually stick it out in a church where they feel they are "not getting fed" IF they know that their kids enjoy the Sunday school ministry.

Never mind the fact that both factors (preaching and kid's ministry) may largely be based on ideals of consumerism ("Wow, that guy is a great speaker!"), but this way of thinking is also flawed in that it belies an assumption that children are best served through entertaining programs.

Yes, there are certain people within the body of Christ that possess an unusual love for children and ability to connect with children and we do well to encourage them in ministering to our children (by giving them space and time to pursue their passions), but parents: your children need you, not a "substitute you" one day a week for 75 minutes. Fathers, only you can father your children. Mothers, only you can mother them. Our children need their fathers and mothers and there is no substitute.

Parents, what are you doing to help your children become disciples of Jesus? Are you spending one-on-one time with them each week teaching them? Do you have regular family time gathered around the story of Scripture and the daily practice of prayer? If so, what is the nature of that time? Are questions asked and discussed? Do the children have time and space to "wonder" about things? Do they see themselves as partners with you in ministering to others? Do they understand that they are a part of the family of Jesus and that that family is composed of young and old, rich and poor, black and white? Do we learn from our children?

If parents will but take the time to minister personally to their own children in this way, teaching them the way of Jesus and the life of the family of Jesus, we would unlock many wonder-full things that have as yet been sealed.

Parents, your children need you. Please do not outsource their discipleship to BibleMart's "Faith Amusement Park".

1 comment:

sarah said...

well said