I was privileged to serve alongside South Main Baptist Church in Greenwood yesterday. They are currently in a search for their next pastor and some of their staff and friends of the church have been asked to fill the pulpit until the interim pastor is selected. I am blessed enough to be considered a friend and got to preach for the two morning services and one evening service. I also got the privilege to bring a team of North Siders to lead worship for their contemporary service and then I led the worship for the evening service. The entire church was very hospitable and encouraging to me, our team, and my family.
This month they are going through a “Fast Forward” series. The idea is to catch a glimpse of the way certain things could be in the future if some things are adjusted here in the present. I was asked to paint a picture of what the families could look like at South Main.
I was honored to be asked to speak on an issue that I am so passionate about and yet is so overlooked today – the concept of biblical family discipleship. As I began to study for the day, I restudied so many pivotal biblical passages that speak of the home being the central place for evangelism and discipleship for the coming generations. As I studied and memorized some of those passages, I also reviewed my doctoral work which I turned into the book, Don’t Drop Your Kids Off at Church: Bring Them Home to It. It’s been a while since I picked up the work that I spent 2 1/2 years working on, and honestly, I was personally convicted. I wrote the material, and yet God used it to show some things I need to do better right now in my own home and how I can better equip the parents within our church. I was highlighting some passages, saying “Amen” or “Ouch” out loud, and it reminded me of how I want to give my children the best that God has to offer.
The Most Critical Spiritual Environment
In the morning, I taught on Deut. 6:4-9 and really unpacked this idea: “The most critical spiritual environment is the one in which you live.” Here is the current reality of the Church in America:
- 75-88% of kids raised in the church are absent from the church by the end of their freshman year in college.
- There are currently 16 million Southern Baptists. At our current rate, each generation will lose 75% of the people (if we take the lower number).
- To maintain the membership numbers each Souther Baptist would need to reach at least 3 people for Christ.
- Currently, it takes 43 Southern Baptists to reach 1 person for Christ.
- Over the last 35 years, we have seen the greatest increase in the number of student workers and the biggest decline in student baptisms.
Why has this happened? My conviction is that we have expected the church to do what God expects the family to do. Parents are called to be the primary evangelist and disciple-makers of their children, and we have expected the trained professional or the organization to do it for us.
- We cannot teach our children something we have not learned ourselves.
- Don’t allow this church’s sufficiency to create parental complacency.
- Don’t expect your pastors to care for your family at such a level that they cannot care for their own family.
The Open Places
In the evening, I taught from Neh. 4:13-14 and Ps. 78:1-8. How do we protect our family from the attacks of the enemy? Some of it is defensive, but most of it is for us to play on the offensive. What are we building in the next generations? I used the “CHILD” acrostic to start evangelizing and discipling the next generation. This information came from the principles and methods that I found were effective during my doctoral work.
- Chronologically Teach the Bible
- The best way for children to understand the Bible is helping them see the big picture.
- The parent’s task is to lead children to cherish the Bible not simply endorse the Bible.
- Don’t promise to have all the answers, but promise to find all the answers.
- Highlight Teachable Moments
- By the time a child is 15 years old, they have asked a half of a million questions.
- An intentional parent will use events during the day to start spiritual conversations.
- Even a child’s sinful behavior can be used for a teachable moment.
- Initiate Open-Ended Questions
- Be careful that children are understanding the gospel rather than simply regurgitating the message.
- Refrain from using leading questions.
- When a child has to answer with more than a simple word or repeat a common phrase, a parent will be better able to grasp that child’s real comprehension of spiritual matters.
- Allow your children to see your motivation and excitement to their interest.
- Live an Authentic Example
- The second greatest story you will tell your children is your testimony.
- The most important element in a child’s spiritual development is parents modeling an authentic example of obedience to Christ.
- A parent must check to see if he or she displays an earnest desire to attend church to commune with God or a religious obligation to appease a certain crowd of people.
- Decipher a Child’s Readiness
- Parents must regain from over-anxious attempts at spiritual development, and they must learn to balance their zeal with God’s sovereignty.
- For a child to be sure concerning his or her salvation, he or she must see this decision as isolated from peer or parental pressure.
- A parent should not expect that a child’s decision was illegitimate, but that parent needs to ask questions to ascertain what truly transpired.
- Since children require special reassurance, parents should never neglect to constantly reinforce the assurance of salvation.
I pray that these notes will assist you in telling the next generation the glorious deeds of the LORD (Ps. 78:4). Once again, thank you for allowing me to share some of what I learned with you. The process of “bringing my kids home to church” is consistently changing our home and our church and I can pray the same can happen for you.
I didn’t get to share this with you, but I am joining some like-minded folks to flesh these concepts out even more through a Family Camp we are running this summer. If you would like more information on this event, you can go here for more info.
Thank you, South Main, you guys are family – thank you for allowing me to serve you!