|Because kids can sign a church charter.|
And mean it.
Third installment of discipleship articles published in Light and Life Communications.
Most Christian parents have one main goal—ensure their kids grow into mature believers. But we also know the scary statistics. About sixty percent of those raised in Christian homes walk away from their faith. Only four percent of Millennials attend church regularly. Discipling kids has never been so important or so challenging.
But what does that discipleship look like now? A lot like it looked in the beginning.
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer....They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need....They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people” (Acts 2.42-46).
The number one reason youth stay in the church is they have seen a Christian lifestyle modeled with integrity--first in their parents and then between their parents and other church members. Their parents genuinely love God and his people. They've grown up in a community—not a building.
An Acts-like community of believers doesn't seem very normal in today's disposable-relaytionship culture, does it? But if we could keep our kids in church, would it be worth it to start making some changes in our priorities, schedule, finances, or church programs to create that community? What would it look like for your family?
“When Priscilla and Aquila heard him (Apollos teaching), they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately” (Acts 18.26).
Barnabas mentored Paul and John Mark. Paul mentored Silas and Timothy. Priscilla and Aquila mentored Apollos. It's tough to find a place in the new church where relationships did not take priority and disciples were not made as a result. Young people remain in churches where someone took individual time to listen, model, and mentor.
*If you have teens, who in your church could come alongside your child in this kind of relationship? How will you move forward on that?
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (1 Timothy 4.12, 2 Timothy 1.6).
Paul felt young people should be active in the ministry of the church, not fans watching the game. When young people feel valued, they are much more likely to find value in church. We need to stop calling youth the church of tomorrow and empower them to be the church today. They are not a threat to our power. They are our hope. Yes, they will make mistakes. So do we. Life is an imprecise science.
*What gifts do your children have from the Holy Spirit?
*How can you help them fan them into flames of ministry?
*Where is there room for that in your church?
It's not as difficult as we make it to disciple kids. Just--listen. And take time. Not much has really changed in that respect in 2000 years.