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Mar 08

Partnering with Parents to Create an Intentional-Push in Raising Kids in their Faith, Part 4

Over the last few days I have talked about how parents are the number one influence in a kid’s life.  Here is an overview of the last three days:

  • Parents must assume the primary responsibility to intentionally-push their kids towards spiritual growth.
  • When we say “I don’t want to push my kid in their faith”, the unintended message we will send them is they don’t have to be involved because my parents didn’t push it on me.
  • No one has more potential to influence a kid’s relationship with God parents.
  • What happens at home is just as important (and influential) as what happens in the Church.

Raising kids up in the faith is by no means an easy challenge, and the truth is parents don’t and shouldn’t have to do it alone, but they must take the lead as the number one influence in their life.  As the second influence in a kid’s life, the Church can be a great help and resource in helping parents and kids in their faith development, but it must be a partnership between parents and the Church.  If parents simply send their kid to church with the expectation that they will be “fixed” or “fully developed” followers of Christ, they will not find success.  Likewise, if a church (or youth ministry) promises a fully developed disciple of Christ from a kid being in their program, then I would argue that that church or youth ministry is seeking to over-promise what they can do, and will inevitably under-deliver in their mission.  Why?  Because the truth is it takes a lifetime to be “fully developed”.  Is a church who promises a fully developed disciple saying that those in their program have arrived after they completed their discipleship program in children’s ministry?  Middle School?  High School?  Honestly they cannot promise those results for the fact that we follow Christ for a lifetime.  We never stop growing or learning to become like Christ.  Discipleship is not a program, it’s is learning to be like Jesus, and we will not be complete until Jesus returns:

I thank my God every time I remember you.  In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus...Philippians 1:6

Parents and the Church must commit to work together in order to intentionally-push kids to become lifelong followers of Christ.  In Reggie Joiner’s book, Think Orange, Joiner gives a great explanation of what this partnership looks like.  Joiner says that the purpose and function of the Church is to shine a light to show every generation the glory of God’s son.  Jesus said we are the light of the world (Matthew 5:15).  The purpose and function of the family is to leave a legacy in our kids nurturing the hearts of the next generation to love God.  When the Church uses its influence to illuminate the light of Christ to families, and parents use their influence to nurture the heart of their kids, it causes both influences to create a guide that helps kids from falling away, veering off the path, or being left behind.  Here is a visual illustration of what this looks like:

Source: Think Orange, Reggie Joiner

Here are some implications that we should consider in order for the partnership between Parents and Church to be most effective:

  • Perhaps we should be spending less time running events and programs just for teenagers, and spend more time running programs for parents AND teenagers.
  • We must do a better job to integrate parents and kids into the Church by not creating competing ministries, but seamless ministries.
  • Equipping parents is just as important as equipping kids.
  • The message at home and the message at church needs to be in Sync (i.e. teaching, priorities, values).
  • We cannot create an “Us” vs. “Them” mentality.  We do this when we don’t get parents and kids together to discuss conflict, challenges, issues and achievements.
  • Parents need to let go of unrealistic expectations of the Church (i.e. the church should fix my kid, it’s the job of the professional youth worker to develop our kids spiritually.)
  • Youth workers need to do all they can to help encourage the relationship between kid and parents.  We don’t do this when we undermine parent’s decisions or parenting style in front of their kids.

I will wrap this series up with final thoughts tomorrow.  For now, I would love to hear your thoughts:  What are some ways the Church and Parents can partner together effectively?

 

 

 

  • Don

    Hi Todd,

    Nice blog!  Thanks for leaving a link and a reminder of it in the weekly parent update.  Please do that occasionally so we parents can remember to jump in more often.

    Wow, those Think Orange bullets above are great.  It’s true the weekly message in church and home definately needs to be in Sync and I thank you and the staff for giving us the summary now in your parent update.  I copy it to my android calendar every week for Sunday evening dinner discussion. 

    Integrating parents and kids into seamless (and not competing) ministries, syncing messages  and running parent/teen programs are all great ideas.  I know implementation is always the tough part.

    Thanks for your thoughts.  I hope other parents comment.

    Don Coughlin