I had the privilege yesterday of speaking to a large group of people at Lipscomb University at the Annie Moses Fine Arts Summer Academy. I spoke about “Returning the Ancient Paths–The ONLY Way to a Hopeful Future.” The message was well received. I never mentioned my book, but I did stand in the back beside of a small table with them and had the chance to sell about 15 copies. That’ll pay for a couple of meals for my large, 6 member brood! 🙂
I spoke with many, many people. Folks from as far away as California, Jamaica, Florida, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas and even North Carolina, Virginia and Tennessee. What I heard was the basically the same. “We know we need to return to Scripture to raise the next generation, but how do we do that?” I said, “Well…I just happened to have written a book about it, would you like to see it.” They pick up a copy and say, “Oh, wow! This is what I need!” That confirms another reason the Lord guided me to write the book.
With that said and as the conversations continue, we talk about the absolute necessity of the family taking the responsibility of raising their children spiritually (particularly the Dads). The Bible is very clear the Fathers are to lead in the role of teaching, equiping, discipling and training the children (Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78, Deut. 6:4-7). Everyone nods in agreement, because the Bible is so clear on this subject. Yet there are still two main questions that arise:
#1 What do we do about young people who come to our churches that have no mother and father actively involved in their lives?
#2 How do we get Fathers to even come to church, much less be involved in the spiritual leadership in their home (we can’t even get them to church)?
Great questions! Both are addressed in detail in my book. Click here to purchase at Amazon.com…
Let me address the first question now and I’ll address the second question in a later post.
To begin answering the first question, I can tell you there is a fairly straight forward, Biblical answer. When you have a young person who is dropped off at church with no family in tow, you simply show Christian hospitality and “adopt” that young person into your family. Paul took young Timothy under his wing and mentored him and we certainly see the example of our Lord doing so with the Apostles. But, I know what you are thinking. That’s messy! I don’t have time to take someone under my wing and “add” them to my family at church. I’ve go enough to do as it is. Yep! You sure do! But, that’s what Christians do. We walk the second mile don’t we.
My family has had the pleasure of “adopting” into our family several young adults through the years. We even bring them into our home after church for “Sunday dinner” and let them see what a Christian family looks like (not that ours is perfect mind you). It’s wonderful to get to see the transformation that takes place in a young person’s life when you make and investment into them like this. Yes, I know you can stick them in a youth group and assign a student pastor or youth pastor to them, but the problem with this is it’s simple not the Biblical pattern.
The church is a body. We are a living, breathing organism that is to help other parts of the body. We don’t cut off a body part and stick it in an adjacent room. If your toe is injured, you don’t remove it from the body and stick it in a room in a corner. No. You nurse it back to health (attached to the body). That’s what we are to do as a church. Why do we segregate our young people and stick them off in a corner of our building away from everyone else? Because it’s convenient? Because we don’t want to be troubled by them? Friends, that is separating the body. You’ll never find this in Scripture. The truth is you will find this model failing miserably in our churches. We have a 75-92% failure rate in getting our young adults to continue to follow Christ (even by their 20th birthday). We must begin to integrate and disciple within the body.
I know many churches are sending their “youth” off to camps and they come back excited and really fired up about their experience. Yet, we plug them back into dead homes (in many instances) and this “fire” will be quenched and snuffed out in less than a month (in most cases). If you know anything about youth ministry, you know I’m telling the truth. (I taught “youth” classes for 17 years and was a “youth pastor” for 2 years.) The answer is mentoring and discipleship and helping the body by keeping the body together, not separating and dividing. If you’d like to really have an “eye-opening experience,” check out “Divided-The Movie.” Click here to watch 55 minute documentary. I must tell you this documentary is not for the faint of heart. I will also say that I don’t necessarily espouse all that is portrayed by the documenatry or the group behind it, but for the most part, they are “spot on.”
We have a choice in our culture concerning our young adults. We can continue to put them through the 40-year experiment of our children’s and youth ministries and watch them fall by the wayside by their 20th birthday, or we can return to the ancient paths of Scripture and begin to integrate and model a mentoring relationship (Titus 2) for them. If we choose the former, we’re going ot lose the majority. If we choose the latter, we’ll raise up some “disciples” of Christ because we chose to roll up our sleeves and do the messy work of hospitable discipleship.
More on the men later…
Oh…here’s a picture of Clara in her “gala” event. She’s in the back on the risers.
Here she is singing…(that’s her on the right and Olivia Eller on the left)…
Finally…here’s a shot of Kandace working hard in her violin class…