“Blow the ram’s horn in Jerusalem! Announce a time of fasting; call the people together for a solemn meeting. Gather all the people–the elders, the children, and even the babies…” (Joel 2:15-16, NLT).
There has never been a time in our history when it has been more important for parents to intentionally impart the values of the Christian faith to their children and to do so in overt, deliberate, creative, and consistent ways. It is critical that modern Christian parents do not succumb to the lowest common denominator approach to influencing their kids for Christ by adopting an “it doesn’t take all that” mindset to instilling the values, priorities, and beliefs of genuine New Testament Christianity. In reality, we are in a season where it requires more diligence, dedication, and intentionality than ever before if we want our children to passionately carry the banner of the Christ’s love, power, and standard to the next generation. If we do not step up our efforts we will be in danger of losing our kids to the world and the generations to come to the cause of Christ in general.
Unfortunately, many formerly solid and conscientious Christian parents have turned on the sloth switch when it comes to raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Expecting them to pick up the Christian world view and values by osmosis or something they do not take the time to read the Word to their kids or pray for them or even make sure they are in public worship services (even though many stood somewhere before a church congregation promising the Lord and the body that they would do so). The fallout will come later as their children begin the process of individuation and decide that this “Christianity stuff” is not for them. Many of these parents will act all “shock and awe” that their kids do not want to follow the Lord Jesus Christ or associate with the Church (or worse yet, dive headlong into the world), but what they don’t realize is that the destination was set years before when they failed to emphasize, privately and publicly, the principles of the Christian faith. Rather than being surprised by the choices of their children, parents who fail to take proactive steps now to influence and preserve their children for Christ, should expect their children to withdraw from the Church and the things of God.
We need today what the prophet Joel called for hundreds of years ago – a sacred assembly of the people of God of all ages – from the newborn to the elderly in a consecrated, committed, and consistent gathering to worship God and receive a fresh impartation of truth and values. This cannot be accomplished in an isolated meeting, but it is the consequence and accumulation of spiritual life imparted over the long haul, line upon line and precept upon precept. Instead of using the birth and busy-ness of raising our children as excuses for being absent from the house of God, we should make them the very reason we are present and faithful to bring them to church for public worship and age appropriate spiritual training.
I remember my parents telling me the story of how they went to see our family pastor after having some struggles with my sister who had departed the faith and the church for a season as a young adult. His counsel to them was wise, timely, and very biblical. We all know the Scripture that promises that if we will train up our children in the way they should go, when they are older they will not depart from those values and principles (Proverbs 22:6). Our pastor encouraged my parents with the assurance that since they had been diligent to bring her up in the church and the things of God, she would be back and with a passion to serve God. He was right. She did, and now she is touching countless lives with her life.
The problem is we cannot claim the promise of such a Scripture if we do not honor the condition of the Scripture. We don’t have to know everything or have everything figured out in life and faith, but we do need to do what we know to do as parents such as bringing our children faithfully and habitually to church. Parents, you cannot claim this Scripture for your children if you are violating the very premise of it. I can assure you that in the long run and in comparison to eternity, nothing you are using as an excuse to keep yourself and your children from attending church is worth potentially losing your kids to the world. Make up your mind today that you are going to be deliberate and intentional when it comes to impacting and influencing your kids for Christ. Don’t let another service go by without taking the role of the godly parent and making sure your family is in the house of God.