What are we doing? What should we do? What will be the churches’ impact on the next generation? How do our investments stack up against our rhetoric? Are we aiming our time and treasure towards children in the church, in the family, and through local and international missions?
By and large the outlook is not good. We are on the ropes and in most cases not even facing in the right direction. I don’t want to get into theories as to why this state of affairs exists because frankly it doesn’t matter why. It only matters that we as the church recognize the error and make appropriate course corrections now. Every moment that passes more and more children cross the fourteen-year threshold and, when they do, our job gets exceedingly more difficult.
Imbalances within the Church
The child-care church
Many well meaning church leaders will say, “Wait just a minute. The responsibility for the spiritual formation of children lies with the parents, not us!” This is only a partially true statement. The commands to teach your children in the old and new testaments, while directed first at the parents, were also communal responsibilities and have been interpreted as such through all of Jewish history. It is a cop-out of enormous proportions when the church provides “child-care,” while parents worship and are taught, with the excuse being that meaningful Christian education should happen in the home. It should be happening in the home, yes, but also on the way and when they sit down and when they rise up, essentially everywhere, not least of all where the church gathers. And what about the child of the absent or unbelieving parent?
It is time that the church woke up and reordered her priorities. The church must invest heavily in working with parents, encouraging and equipping them to disciple their “blessings from the Lord.” Church leadership must spur on fathers to take the lead in the spiritual formation of their children. I, for one, will never abdicate my GOD given role of spiritual leader in my household. At the same time the church has a significant supporting role to play in raising up the next generation in the fear and admonition of the Lord, teaching the children what it means to be the church of Jesus Christ.
more to come…