Summary: Parents must pass along the faith they possess.
Is it possible what happens at home is more important than what happens at church? This year, a child will actually attend church less than 40 weekends because of COVID. As we continue in our series called “Family Matters,” I want to propose that parenting is not only hard work, it is heart work because parents must pass along the faith they possess.
Whenever I preach on the topic of parenting, I like to start with some suppositions. I’ve added to this list over the years.
1. If you’re married and don’t have kids, or they are no longer in the home, you are still a family. I’ve had to remember this now that our girls are grown and gone.
2. If you are a single parent, you are a family.
3. If you are single, you are not second-class. As we learned two weeks ago, Scripture celebrates singleness.
4. Blended families are beautiful. Someone put it like this: “Blending a family isn’t about making everything the same, it’s about mixing two things to make something new.”
5. Children are intended to be a blessing from God, not a burden to bear. Psalm 127:3: “Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.” It’s a privilege and a responsibility to raise difference-makers for Christ.
6. Parents must aim to raise children to be life-long disciples.
7. There is no fail-safe formula for parenting success. George Barna reports one of every five parents of young children believe they are doing a good job training their children morally and spiritually. Before we jump into our text for today, I want to say a word to parents of prodigal children. My aim is not to pile on and make you feel guilty. Nor is it my intention to be trite and oversimplify what is one of the most challenging tasks ever given. Today, some of you have hurting hearts as you wonder where your child’s wandering heart is. Don’t beat yourself up because your child has a will that is separate from your own. He or she will make choices you don’t always agree with. God gives grace to the grieving. Don’t lose hope. Keep praying.
8. Every parent can learn how to be a gospel-centered parent.
9. I’m a parent, and now a grandparent in process, not an authoritative expert. Just because I’m preaching this weekend doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out – just ask our daughters.
10. God wants to synchronize the efforts of our faith community and the family to make disciples in the next generation. In his book called, “Think Orange,” Reggie Joiner puts it like this: “God has designed the church to shine a light to show every generation the glory of God’s Son and God has designed the family to nurture the hearts of a generation to love God…” I was reminded of this on Sunday when Edgewood Member Evelyn Skaggs celebrated her 100th Birthday with a drive-by celebration. She taught children at EBC for 50 years! When I thanked her for impacting so many lives, she smiled and said, “I’d still be doing it if I could!”
We’re going to begin with the biblical foundation for parenting and then flesh it out with some practical pointers for parents.
Joiner lists five basic assumptions which are foundational to the faith development of families:
• Nothing is more important than someone’s relationship with God.
• No one has more potential to influence a child’s relationship with God than a parent.
• No one has more potential to influence the parent than the church.
• The church’s potential to influence a child dramatically increases when it partners with a parent.
• The parent’s potential to influence a child dramatically increases when that parent partners with the church.
Please turn in your Bibles to Deuteronomy 6 where we will see parents must pass along the faith they possess.
Let’s set the scene. The people of God have been spinning their wheels in the wilderness for 40 years and are now on the verge of finally entering the Promised Land. The disobedient generation has died and now “generation next” is on the scene. Moses was unable to go with them because of his own disobedience, so he wanted to make sure parents knew their job description.
Notice Moses doesn’t give them instructions on farming, shepherding, economics, construction, or even battle plans. What is first and foremost on his mind and on God’s heart is the family’s role in faith formation. God’s people were about to enter a pagan land, filled with over 40 different people groups and yet his focus was on the family. In that sense, isn’t the setting similar to our own situation?
Our parental job description has five main responsibilities, summed up in five verbs.