I met Heather in a packed hallway after the service one Sunday morning. When I asked her what she hoped to gain by worshipping with us, she answered, “Dave, I just want my kids to grow up and love the Lord.”
Heather is not alone. Many parents want this for their families. I do. You do too.
But we can’t ensure that our children will long to serve the Lord simply by dragging them to all of our church responsibilities, offering the best children’s programs, or employing the most creative children’s leaders. These are all good things, but there is a better place to begin—with the parents in the pews.
As pastors we must teach and train parents. It is then their job to transfer their faith to their kids.
So what is it that we must teach? Let’s start with three building blocks: prayer, Scripture, and trust.
PRAYER — The most powerful tool you can teach parents isn’t love, grace, or even consistency. It’s prayer. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times from moms and dads: “I don’t know what to do; I don’t know how to fix this. All I can do is pray.”
All I can do . . . as if prayer is nothing more than a last resort and a weak substitute for action.
You may have seen the bumper sticker: Prayer Changes Things. And while that is certainly true, prayer also transforms YOU!
If parents come to us needing wisdom for tough challenges at home, give them this good news: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5, NIV). Parenting is hard and raising godly kids is too big a task for us to start anywhere except on our knees.
SCRIPTURE — If prayer is the most powerful parenting tool, then God’s Word is the most essential parenting book. If we teach Scripture from the pulpit, we are teaching parents to depend on the Word of God. Challenge them to memorize it and then share those truths with their children. Deuteronomy 6 says we must impress God’s Word on our children at all times. When we sit at home. When we walk along the road. When we lie down and when we get up.
But it doesn’t matter how much they know about the Bible. What matters is the kind of relationship they have with the One who wrote it. For parents to see God’s Word taking root in their children’s hearts, they must have deep roots in their own hearts. They must live it. Do it. And obey it.
TRUST — And finally, we must teach parents to trust God and trust their families to God. Let’s face it: we’re a lot like the Israelites. We’d rather wander in the wilderness for forty years than stop and ask directions. We exhaust all of our options (and ourselves) before we admit that we can’t do it on our own. But it doesn’t have to get to that point. We can start by trusting God to lead. Remind moms and dads that God loves their children more unconditionally, consistently, and completely than they ever could. And His goal is the same—to help their families grow to love the Lord.
If we can teach parents to get on their knees, live out God’s Word, and trust God to lead, their lips will proclaim: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4, NIV).
Get a free first chapter from Dave’s book, Building Family Ties with Faith, Love, & Laughter at www.PastorDaveStone.com.