Have you ever planted an acorn and nurtured it into growth as an oak tree? If so, have you stuck with it long enough to see the oak tree grow into maturity? I’m guessing most of you, like myself, have not experienced this science project. And if you’re like me, you are somewhat amazed that it’s even possible. You can really bury an acorn and just watch it grow? Well, yes and no. There are definite steps required to see that acorn be transformed into an oak tree. There are also some definite steps you can take to prevent that development.
Similarly, it’s a miracle that our kids could grow up and be the missionary who reaches an entire Unreached People Group with the Gospel. It’s a miracle that our kids could share Christ with their elementary principal and see her come to saving faith in Jesus. It’s a miracle that our kids could start a prayer meeting in college that fuels the next North American revival. It’s a miracle that God could use your son’s tragic accident at summer camp to become the next Joni Erickson Tada.
We often focus on what we can do to help foster this kind of transformation. This obviously must come from God, but we are also called to be faithful. What we often fail to consider, however, is how we can make it difficult for our kids to experience radical transformation. Let me suggest three practices that will make it difficult for your kids to love Jesus with everything they’ve got.
1) Don’t Grow in Grace
Can people really change? Of course you know the answer from systematic theology, but your kids aren’t reading Wayne Grudem. They are reading your life. Let me ask you a few simple questions.
- Do your kids see you changing?
- Do they hear you speaking kindly of the guy who just cut you off on the highway?
- Do they see your family cutting luxuries so you can fund a Bible translation project?
- Do they see you repenting on a daily basis when you fall short?
If they don’t see growth in grace in your life, they are likely to believe it won’t happen in theirs or anyone else’s. Ahh yes, but you took your kids to church and even enrolled them in a Christian school for a few years. They know God can change the heart! Remember, kids will pick up much more of who you are than what you say. Your kids need to see you growing in grace.
2) Don’t Love God’s Word
Do you love God’s Word? No, I don’t mean can you give me the Sunday School answer. I mean, do you gravitate to His Word over Pinterest, SportsCenter, or the opportunity to work on your truck?
And beyond that, do your kids see you loving God’s Word? They know you love your phone. They know you love the Colts. They know you love an open Saturday to go skeet shooting. They know you love going to Starbucks with your girlfriends. And do you know what they want? They want to be cool like you. They want to scroll Instagram like you, to talk knowledgably about the Pacers like you do, to rebuild a computer like you can.
Is it normal for them to see you at the table with your Bible open? Or would they wonder if there was a family emergency? More is caught than taught, and they are catching more than you think. As Jim Cook told us recently, “It’s hard for kids to develop a love for the Word of God if you don’t have a love for the Word of God.”
3) Don’t Go Beyond Sunday
Ask your kids what a Christian does. Do they start with something like “go to church”? Or, do they talk about “being the church” throughout the week? Their understanding will flow out of your life. Again, a few simple diagnostic questions.
- Is it normal for your family to talk about Jesus during the week?
- Is it normal for your family to pray for sinners to be saved?
- Is it normal for your family to open your home to neighbors?
- Is it normal for your family to talk about injustices in our world?
- Is it normal for your family to take action against those injustices?
I could go on with these questions, but you get the point. If your faith, for all practical purposes, stops when you leave the church on Sunday … why would your kids do anything different?
I hope you are seeing that I’m not suggesting any kind of crazy strategy for discipling your children. Love Jesus and let Him change you. Repent when you don’t. Love His Word and share it constantly with your family. Take what He says and put it into action. Your kids are watching. Are you helping them become a sprawling oak? Or are you refusing to plant, water, and fertilize that acorn?
This is the 2nd in a series on how Parkside Bible Church (Brownsburg, IN) understands Family Ministry. You can find the 1st post here.