There is a debate that seems to be brewing in Christian homes and church. A debate centered around the ideas of children’s and youth ministry. Do these age-segregated programs make sense? Are they Biblical? How much effort should be placed on getting parents to intentionally disciple their children?
These really are questions that should be considered and pondered b/c we seem to be coming upon cross-roads which will define the future of the church – not just in Children’s & Family Ministry, but in many other areas as well. So, let’s take a look at God’s word to see what it has to say…assuming we agree that the Bible has something to say about this topic?? Most of you reading this know the passages that reference how important family ministry is – Deut. 6 & Psalm 78 in particular – but let me take a big picture approach to this.
In the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) we are called to “Go and make Disciples,” a clear command from Jesus before he ascends into Heaven. Yet that call did not just start after Jesus lived, died and rose again; that commandment existed since the beginning of Creation. Check out the comparison between the Great Commission and the First Commandment (Gen 1:28), where we are called to fill the earth with worshippers*:
There is a definitive link between the call of the Church to make disciples and the call of the Family to bear and raise their children to be Godly disciples. This is also echoed in what Peter preaches at the end of Acts 2:
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:38-39 – italics mine).
Did you catch it? The promise (referring to the Covenant Promise of God throughout the entire Bible) is given to you, your kids, and the world! The problem is that we often forget our kids as part of this equation and just focus on the 1) getting right with God and 2) going to make a difference in the world. Yet God seems to be telling us get right with God, get right with your spouse, get right with your kids, & get right with your church and that’s when together you can go make a difference in the world.
So, just how important is family discipelship? Well according to this line of reasoning, it seems like it should be the main focus of what the church is doing! Instead, we focus on so many other things with in the church that seem to be secondary: small groups, community groups, Sunday services, youth ministry, children’s ministry, worship ministry and so on. And while all of these are connected – and important in and of themselves – we are missing the boat on what I believe is the key issue for the church today: a prophetic call for parents, especially fathers, to turn their hearts back to their children. It’s that important!