Student Discipleship...by their parents!?
So I think I've got one last post in me about something that I heard at D6. A comment was made, not sure what session, it might have even happened in multiple sessions, but paraphrased it went something like this, "we're having to convince parents that discipling their own children is something they need to do." I remember chuckling inside waiting for the 'just kidding' or the wry grin, but neither came. In fact just the opposite came, a bunch of nods from the hundreds and hundreds of people listening all in agreement. And I was shocked. Was this really that big of a problem? Do we as pastors really have to convince parents that discipling their children is a good idea and something they should do? At first I thought this couldn't be but then I began to think about it. How many times in my youth group experience did my friends have absolutely no relationship with their parents, let alone a relationship that was built on spiritual discipleship and guidance? Too many to count, and its not because it's been a while since I was in youth group, it is because the number was way too high.
I'm sure if we took a poll of students in churches all across the country we would find more of the same, that by and large parents are not discipling their own children. This is INSANE! Think about it for a second, these are parents who go to church, parents who theoretically follow Jesus. Why are they not discipling their own children??
Granted, this is a broad stroking statement, I'm sure there are a group of families out there who do disciple their own children, and God bless them for that. But for the majority of parents who see children's and youth ministry as Jesus-centered babysitting something needs to change drastically.
Here it is: I, (insert your children's or youth pastor's name is), am not here to be the primary discipler of your child. I am here to assist your family and to support your family in your process of discipling your own children.
Too many times parents think their only responsibility is to get the kids to church and they leave the rest up to the pastors and ministry workers. This is NOT working. Again I bring up the startling truth that college kids are walking away from Christianity with frightening success. Why? Because their experience is that everything about God and Christianity stays at church. If they aren't getting discipled by the people who have the most time and impact on them, their parents, they are most likely not going to disciple themselves when Mom and Dad aren't around.
So parents, here's the deal: disciple your kids. It is important to be concerned for your child's health, well being, and education, but it is even more important to be concerned with your child's eternity. Honestly I can't believe we've come to this point, but it's time for us all to admit where we've fallen short and fix it. Here are a few suggestions to get started with discipling your children:
1. Set a Godly example by the way you live. Your kids will learn more about what it means to follow Jesus by watching how you act everyday than by what you tell them.
2. Pray with and for your kids. Show them the importance of spending time communing with God. Pray as a family and pray in private for your family.
3. If your kids are in children's or youth ministry, find out what they are learning about and then ask them questions about it throughout the week. Engage in conversation about the deep things of life and God, show them that you don't have all the answers, but that its okay not to have them.
4. Share with them what God is teaching you and how he has shaped you over the course of your life. Show them that you aren't perfect but that God loves you anyways.
5. Forgive and show grace and mercy when your child messes up, but also be quick to ask for forgiveness, grace and mercy when you screw up.
This is not a fool proof plan to ensure that your children will follow Christ, but I'll tell you what, it sure beats the alternative. If you want your kids to know the Lord then teach them every chance you get about how great God is, about his unending love, about why we need redemption, and about what a relationship with God looks like. God has entrusted you to raise your children, the Church is here to help, not to do that job for you.