Whew. As I am continually working on my doctoral project, there is a certain time line you have to work through. And if you get held up at any place, it effects everything else! I printed and proofed chapter one which serves as the official project proposal. It has to be approved through three different layers, and once I get approval, I can truly start. But if you read the 44 pages of chapter one, you realize that so much of the work has already been done when you do this part. You have to plan out everything to know where you are heading.
Once I make some changes, I am printing and mailing it off 42 days ahead of schedule! Woo hoo!
Now I am tired, and I need a milkshake.
Here’s a snippet from the introduction of my doctoral project focusing on equipping parents to evangelize their children:
This project intends to accomplish five goals essential to the success of equipping parents to evangelize their children at North Side Baptist Church, Greenwood, South Carolina. The first goal is to teach parents the necessary elements of the gospel. Before a parent can adequately present the gospel to his or her children, this parent must be completely comfortable with the essentials of the gospel message. Many parents usher their children to their pastor to evangelize their children because they fearfully believe that they may not sufficiently present the information completely or correctly. While the eternal severity of a misunderstood gospel is rightfully dreaded by parents, their fear should not keep them from accepting their biblical responsibility. To ensure success in this task, parents must be confident in the gospel message not only for their own salvation, but also for the salvation of their children. The leadership of the church must take responsibility to regularly teach parents the message of the gospel.
The second goal is that the parents understand the stages of conversion. Once the gospel message is taught to parents, the church leadership must then educate parents concerning what happens in a person when he or she is converted. Many parents assume that a prayer shared with a pastor and a baptism service in a church are the proof needed for a child’s conversion. If a parent is going to have a pivotal role in his or her child’s conversion, then that parent must comprehend the different stages of conversion. Parents need to understand what God’s role is concerning salvation and what their child’s role is concerning salvation. Baptism needs to be understood as an act of obedience as a Christian and not a prerequisite for salvation. Parents also need to understand their child’s conversion as a starting point for sanctification and not a finishing line for salvation.
The third goal is that the parents in the congregation understand that their biblical responsibility is to become the primary evangelist in their children’s lives. As seminaries have increasingly produced and churches have regularly staffed more age-specialized ministers such as youth pastors or children ministers, Christian parents have begun to decipher the message that they need to trust the Christian professionals to take care of their God-given responsibility. Parents no longer need to attempt to share the gospel with their children because they have specialized ministers in their church to do that job. While having additional evangelists in a child’s life is definitely a welcomed intrusion, no church staff member’s evangelistic training can ever compare with the impact of a parent’s concerned and concentrated efforts to tell a child the gospel. Upon the examination of Scripture, parents will understand that they are to be their children’s primary evangelists because God has commanded that and it also gives a child the best opportunity to live for Christ.
The fourth goal is that the parents in our congregation develop the skills to share the gospel effectively in relationship to the individual child’s comprehension levels. Once a parent understands theologically the elements of the gospel, the stages of conversion, and the role of the parent, the church must equip parents to share the gospel intentionally with their children. Since every child is different concerning comprehension levels, parents must be given the resources to gauge their child’s ability to understand the gospel. In the process of evangelizing children, two dangers arise. First, some parents might preemptively proclaim their child’s conversion when that child is not at an age or at a comprehension level to truly understand. Second, some parents might wait too long to address salvation waiting for a day in the future when their children can understand fully. Through equipping parents with helpful information and practices, parents will be able to find a healthy medium in sharing the gospel. They will also be equipped with creative ways to bring gospel conversations into everyday life in the home.
The final goal is that as a minister and as a father, I will personally improve in my ability to share the gospel with my own child. Through my research, my prayer is that my children will eternally benefit due to a father who rightfully assumes his God-given mantle of primary evangelist in his home. While I can teach my children many lessons during their time as they grow up, I pray that I personally reflect the biblical role to make Christ the center of our home. I desire too much the blessed privilege to walk with my children across the threshold of conversion to allow someone else to take my amazing job or to assume that someone else will take care of my children’s spiritual needs. As I progress through this research, I pray that my heart will increase in love for my children and my skills as an evangelist will improve so that I may have the unparalleled opportunity to share the greatest news with the most precious people in my life.
More to come!