For it is by grace you have been saved...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wise Words on Parenting/Pastoring

I'm starting to like this guy. Last week I posted some information about a call to prayer for spiritual awakening. The guy behind that is Mike from the Wisdom Fails blog. Well, today I read a wonderful post of his regarding the role of parents in pastoring our children.

For those who have endured this blog for a few years, you know that I have touched on that issue a few times, from the resolution I offered at our State Convention a few years ago, to the numerous links to video clips from Voddie Baucham on this issue, etc.

Anyway, I enjoyed this post very much, and seriously hope Mike doesn't mind my reposting his thoughts here. If you want, head over to the Wisdom Fails blog and you can read it in the original format with all the bells and whistles he threw in (I'm incapable of that sort of thing). Here then is the content of Mike's post called "Who Is Parenting Our Children?"

Yesterday, I had heard a statistic on Wretched Radio that I'd heard and quoted myself, many times before. Nearly 80 percent of church-going youth fall away when they leave for college. That is such a huge percentage. I believe that if we were to see the hearts of the adults in the church, we would find either an equal or larger percentage of them have fallen away while sitting in the pews.

Why is the number so large? Why are we losing our youth as soon as they are out from under the watchful eyes of their parents? Don't we have massive amounts of programming and resources spent on marketing the Christian life towards them? Can that be the problem?

It is easy to shift the blame onto the leadership of the church, and maybe they are partly to blame. So much bad doctrine is pouring out of our pulpits these days. Sadly, even in churches where good doctrine is taught, application is sacrificed and so it is of no affect. We have tailor-made services to the point where people are so comfortable, they forget to pay attention. There is a very similar phenomenon among youth ministries.

I have spent most of my almost fifteen years of Christianity working with youth. In different denominations, different cultures, and different countries. I've watched parents and their children interact, and I've had youth confide in me what their home lives were like. I've seen good ministries and bad, and in both, I've seen kids being both discipled and falling away. I've noticed one universal constant; Young people who were either strong in their faith from childhood to beyond college, or who fell away upon leaving, were almost always that way because of their parents.

Don't get me wrong, bad youth ministries are partially to blame, but only partially. If a child is being raised, truly being raised to treasure the word of God, then they would most likely not be exposed to bad youth ministries in the first place. God commands you, parents, to be your child's youth pastor. It is your job to teach them the word of God from the time they are able to read, speak and comprehend. It is your job to teach them about the love of God. I don't believe there is anything wrong with a youth ministry that is managed well, but can you think of a single instance in scripture where the collective youth of the church were schooled about God, outside of their homes? That is not to say that they are unbiblical, but you, parents, must understand that if you do not emphasize the importance of the gospel, then you have failed your children and dishonored God.

I've seen genuine, sincere, Christian parents, both pastors and parishioners over-emphasize the wrong things to children and have watched their children go astray. I've watched christian parents worship status in the community, appearance, money, health, sports, and grades, only to find their daughters pregnant before they graduate high-school, to find their sons in constant trouble with the law, and to find that their children bully and make fun of other kids.

Parents send their children to youth group and expect what is taught there to take root and are surprised when they fall away.

How many times have I heard from the troubled Christian parents of troubled, Christian teens, "But, I've raised my children in church."

You should rather raise them at home.

If they don't understand how important the word of God is daily by the way you live and teach them, no youth pastor, no matter how relevant or biblical is going to have a real, god-honoring, life-changing impact on their lives. It doesn't matter if the youth group is program driven, or discipleship driven. God may use a well-run youth ministry to very well save some of your children, but if you are teaching them to live like hell, He will save them in spite of you, not because you have honored His giving them to you, by caring for them as you should.

Parents please, teach your children daily of the importance of the gospel. Make them subject to God, not to yourself. Teach them of the importance of God's law. Teach them how they fail to meet God's law and require His grace and mercy. Teach them about true repentance that grieves over personal sin and disobedience. Love them by teaching them about the love of God. More importantly, don't ever stop teaching them this!

I've seen too many children, blessings from God, cast aside by parents who don't like kids. They feed them, clothe them, provide everything for them, and take them to as many events as possible so that everyone else can help raise them.

This is why so many of the youth fall away when they leave church...because they grow up seeing how unimportant God is, and by extension, how unimportant they really are to their parents.

Think about your relationship with your child. What is the one thing you think they would say you talk about the most? Is it their weight? Is it their athletic performance? Is it their grades? Is it their clothing, or is it the gospel? Fathers, are your children blessed because you have walked in the holiness and integrity of Proverbs 20:7? Mothers, do your children rise up, as those of Proverbs 31:28, and call you blessed, or do they say you only nag them about their appearance while you're dropping them off at Wednesday night youth meetings?

Yes, the other things are important, but if you spend more time focusing on one or more of those things and just assume that your children care about the law and grace of God then you are teaching them to worship idols. Don't assume they are getting what they need spiritually at church! Feed them spiritually at home! Read the Bible with them! Discuss it! Pray with them! Listen to them! That is absolutely the only way we're going to see a change in the number of youth who immediately turn away upon reaching adulthood.

Consider the books of Kings. In every instance where we read the children of Israel fell away, it was because the law of God was forgotten among the people. Only when it was found and read and cherished was the kingdom well. All of the Old Testament is a call from God for His children to return to his word, to his law, and to his grace and mercy. Even as he is the loving shepherd and pastor of his children, so are you to be for yours. For their sakes yes, but even more for God's glory, please pastor your children!

Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 4:40; 6:7; 11:19-21; Psalm 78:5-6; Proverbs 31:28; Isaiah 59:21; Joel 1:3; Romans 2:19-21; Ephesians 6:4; 3 John 1:4


Becky said...

Scott, I really liked this article! I just recommended it on the Caffeinated Theology blog. Go see...:)

Scott said...

Thanks, Becky. I got such a blessing from Mike's article that I was hoping even more folks would be able to benefit by reposting it here. I appreciate the "reference."

Anonymous said...

Outstanding article! What a great reminder, rebuke and encouragement!

This has Deut 6 and Psalm 78 written all over it! Thanks for re-posting.

Mike said...

Scott, thanks for the follow and for reposting the article. I really believe that we, as believers must work harder at equipping ourselves through God's word, for God's work. We absolutely don't take the word seriously enough, and I really think that begins at home.

So many times, parents just drop their kids at youth and it becomes one more extra-curricular activity to add to the list. It fosters the notion that Christ is something we add on to an already, overstuffed life to "make it better".

Reverence for God and his word must begin in the home...otherwise, the chuch will continue its descent into worldliness and apostasy, no matter what format our services take.

Scott said...

Amen, Mike. You have hit the same nail on the head that I've been swinging at for several years. thanks for letting me re-post your thoughts. It's been a real blessing.