Generations of undiscipled children are now parents who don’t know how to disciple their children. And it’s not even their fault. It’s not your fault. Church leaders spent the last half century cultivating dynamic next gen ministry. We built a church paradigm that positioned itself to take care of your kid’s discipleship. That’s something we were happy to appropriate. “We have staff to do that.” “We have volunteers to do that.” We allowed parents, no we encouraged parents, to let us take on the role of primary discipler of their children. “Let us handle the kids”, we said. Intentions were good, but we were wrong. Now we have exactly to product we were trying to produce. Families addicted to programming. Parents expecting the church to do all the “spiritual stuff” for them. What Can We Do? Question, parent: Are you making disciples of your own children? That is your role. Question, church leader: Are you equipping families for discipleship or co-opting the discipleship experience into programming? That is your role. Let’s all be honest with our answers. It’s far more challenging to equip families to make disciples in their home than it is to develop programming to handle the process. But it’s also equally ineffective. It reminds me of pandas. Let me explain. When pandas are in captivity, the handlers must provide basic care for them and their offspring. In a natural scenario a panda mom would take on this task. The captive panda mom doesn’t have the same ability because handlers have always done it. Once captive, pandas will struggle when released into the wild. They must learn to feed themselves to survive. When churches co-opt the responsibilities of the family, children will struggle when released into the wild of everyday life. They must learn to feed themselves spiritually. Churches are taking on the wrong role. Not as parents but as equippers of parents. Great Commission Parenting How do we change the paradigm? It starts with parents owning the Great Commission in their own homes. And churches empowering and equipping families to own it. How do I make disciples of my own children? Lead them to Jesus. Lead them to live like Jesus. Specifically, parents must “Teach them to obey all I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20) How do you teach your children to obey everything God commands? I’ll answer that with another question: How do you teach your children to obey? Teaching is giving them knowledge and telling them how to apply it. Teaching them to obey is two things:
- Showing them the truth in action.
- Holding them accountable to live it out.
- We tell them to clean their room. We have to tell them repeatedly. (And remind them again).
- We clean it for them. It’s often easier than the hassle of holding them accountable to do it.
- We learn to live with the mess. The easiest route is also the most destructive. In it, the child learns nothing. Their room is still a mess, and the message you’ve sent is: I don’t care.