28 Jun We Do This SO THAT…
If you know me at all – and especially if you have been in ministry with me – you’ve heard me say that the model of leaving the faith development of children completely up to the church is flawed and out of date. Flawed for many reasons, the first being that we only have your kids once a week…at best.
But the main reason this model is out of date is because the ABSOLUTE best way to nurture the faith of our children (and grandchildren) is to have them “catch” us being faithful. Kids need to learn from us (at home) that reading the Bible (more than on Sunday mornings) is important, and that serving out of our abundance is a response to God’s blessings. They need to see us turning to prayer during the highs and lows of daily life. Having parents who actively love Jesus and want to pass on faith to their children is WAY more effective than leaving it up to even the most well-trained, well-equipped children’s ministry programs.
You’ve also probably heard me say that growing faith at home doesn’t require parents to be experts. It really just takes an intentional focus. And that can be as easy as weaving the “four keys” to faith into your family life. (Caring Conversations – talking with your kids, sharing where you see God; Family Devotions and Prayer – even once a week; Family Rituals and Traditions – how you celebrate holidays and manage the routines of your daily life; and Family Service.)
The book “Connecting Church & Home” by Tim Kimmel recently highlighted the fact that perhaps I haven’t done the best job at communicating the importance of these four “keys” – and without the “why” these “keys” can become just more for us to do in an already-busy life. Or, as Kimmel writes, they can become tools for getting the best spiritual behavior out of our kids without building a “spiritual disposition.” So let’s step back and talk about why we should want to pass faith to our children – why it matters, and why it should feel so important that it takes on urgency.
It’s a matter of the heart. When one of the Pharisees tested Jesus about which was the “greatest commandment,” Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and with all your strength.” All of the spiritual tools I’ve referenced will only bring on a conversion of the head unless we parent our children from a place of grace. And what God is calling us to is a conversion of the heart. Remember Jesus’ conversation with Peter (John 21:15) in the days after Jesus was raised from the dead where he asked: “Peter, do you love me?” three times. It was that important.
How can we grow kids who love God with all their hearts? Kimmel writes that God’s “transforming work of grace is the factor that most determines the ambience between people’s hearts.” In other words, when you allow God’s grace to work through you it will prepare your kids to hear and receive the Gospel.When God’s grace is our starting point, it’s the spark that ignites the faith of our family.
So where do our “four keys” come in – and how do we use these tools so that they don’t become methods of “sin management” or grades on our spiritual report cards? Well first of all, give yourself grace. If this has been a struggle for you, maybe it’s because you didn’t understand that we are to urge our children – and ourselves – toward a conversion of the heart. Maybe we forgot that it’s about loving Jesus, and the transforming power of that love flowing through us.
And pray – pray for God to change your heart, to change your “want to’s” – to make you WANT to love Him above all things. And then let the “keys” become the strategies you use to get there. Because you can’t sustain a relationship with God without prayer, and you cannot hear God or remain obedient to God without regular time in the Bible, and when you love Jesus, you can’t help but to love and serve your neighbor. And when you experience a fresh infusion of faith, you can’t help but talk about it (Key #1). Kimmel writes that “grace is the starting point, the finish line, and everything in between.”
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
(2 Corinthians 13:14 )
Director of Family Ministry and Communications