Do you have a plan for your kids?

Discipleship...we are all called to do it.  But do any of us really know how?

The following post is for every parent who calls themselves a believer in Christ and sees as their calling the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  But it begins with some penetrating questions, not to discourage, but to open our eyes to reality so that we may be fulfillers of the commission Christ has given us.

I begin with parents because I have worked with youth for 14 years and have strong feelings toward this subject of discipleship.

According to Scripture, parents are the ones that God has entrusted to pass down the faith to their children (see Deut. 6:4-9; 11:13-21; Psalm 78:1-8).  As such, I do not worry too much whether or not any youth come to my youth group.  Now that may seem like a shock to many parents, but if you, as parents, are discipling your children, then you will have many more opportunities to teach them about the Lord than I will in my 2 hour slot on Wednesday night.  Sunday is the gathering together of believers and every family should be involved in that, but a specialized time not representing the entire body but an outreach to a group of peers, is optional, because families could create a similar environment themselves within their own home.

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However, many Godly Christian parents lack a true plan of discipleship for their children.  This is in stark contrast to all of the other plans parents have for their children.  I have had many parents tell me the plans that they have for their kids as it pertains to sports or schooling and stressing the importance that can be found in those activities.  In sports, it is to win state or district or just keep them out of trouble.  In school, it is the importance to get a good education for a future career.  I have seen parents run themselves ragged over the school year taking their children from one sporting event to another or one school event to another to fulfill these plans.

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No one is saying that these things are not good, but godliness is more important.  Consider the words of Paul to his young apprentice Timothy:  Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.  1 Timothy 4:7b-8  Yet in our culture, a loud voice tells us that if we don't get our kids involved in sports or extracurricular activities we are somehow depriving our children of their future.

So let me ask some questions to shed some light on this ridiculous assertion:

How many of you as adults make a living as a sports figure?
How many of you as adults reference American history on a daily basis in life?
How many of you as adults do math at a higher level than Algebra 1 on a regular basis?
How many of you as adults have dissected a sentence or even a frog in the last 2 years?

Chances are you might have been able to answer "yes" to one of those questions, but only if you worked in a specialized field that required that specific knowledge.  Yet here we are as parents, taking our children and youth to every practice to every sporting event and quizzing them every day concerning the particulars of this subject or that...or at least harping on them to get their homework done.

Compare, if you will, the answers that you might give to the following:

How many of you want your children to grow up to be honest, respectable adults who love God passionately and love others in such a way that Christ is seen in their lives?

How many of you want your children to be able to make the right decisions in life when the pressures of the world come crashing in on them, to choose the Godly thing, even when it hurts because it is right, not because it is convenient?

How many of you want your boys to grow to be men who have been instilled to treat women with a respect that comes from God?

How many of you want your girls to grow to be strong women who can resist temptation and find their identity in Christ who has made them special instead of being swayed by feelings of wanting to impress someone else for the wrong reason?

How many of you want your children to know the sound reasons you have for believing in Christ and trusting in His resurrection and His Word, in a world that challenges them that God doesn't exist at all?

How many of you want children who will humbly admit mistakes and not cover them up, no matter how hard it is?

I am sure that all of you would say that that you want all of those things for your kids.  And some of you might even object to this line of reasoning because it is possible to do both.  I agree, it is.  But which set of questions are more important?  I believe that if a parent was forced to choose, we would rather choose the second set of questions over the first, if we had to.  However, if the truth be known, I have met very few families who have majored on the second set of questions by having an active discipleship time with their children in the same way as they focus on the first set of questions.

In 14 years of being a youth pastor, I know less than 14 youth who have read the entire Bible by the time they have left High School (this number includes my 2 kids currently in youth group who had to read the Bible before they were allowed into youth group at 6th grade.  Btw...this isn't a bragging point for me and my family, but rather the realization that many parents do not challenge their kids to the level of faith their children can comprehend...I had to learn this lesson too.)

Consider what the Psalmist says in Psalm 119:9-11

How can a young man keep his way pure?  By guarding it according to Your word.  With my whole heart I seek You; let me not wander from Your commandments!  I have stored up Your word in my heart, that I might not sin against You.

Or these words from Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.  He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.  In all that he does, he propers.

These promises of purity and salvation only come to the one who continually thinks about the Lord and His word (see also James 1:19-25).  And while this is what we truly want, we often get distracted by the priorities of the world without even knowing it.

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As a parent, when was the last time you encouraged your child to read the Bible on a daily basis?  When was the last time you recommended a Christian book for your child to read to bolster their faith?  When was the last time you outreached to the lost as a family or served those less fortunate in the name of Jesus?  When was the last time you prayed together or worshiped God at home just because He is God and He is worthy?  Or had a Bible trivia night?  Or talked about current issues/situations in the light of God's word?

Or just developed a plan to start doing all these things?

Your head may be swimming thinking about all of these things.  You may feel clueless on where to begin.  But begin you the same way as you have begun in all of the other areas you have by asking for help by those who have gone before you.

This is the true role of your pastor/youth pastor/children's pastor.  Not to just entertain your kids or try to teach them for a few hours once or twice a week, but to come alongside parents and help them create a real plan of discipleship for their children.  I believe every parent needs to be meeting with their pastor/youth pastor/children's pastor at least once a year and developing a plan of discipleship for each of their children.

As I look back on my many years of ministry, one thing I wish I would have done differently, would be to do less events for youth and more planning with parents because, in the end, we both want what is best for your children...and what is best for your children is that they know Jesus.  And parents are best equipped for the job.

So what are you waiting for?  Get on the phone, talk to your pastor and start planning for the spiritual success of your children.  It's never too late to start!


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