We are working through an article by Scott Thomas on replanting an existing church, that is, renewing a church so that it grows and matures as a church plant does.
A replanted church would have regular, repeated courses on parenting — courses that address how to raise children who will have a passion to be like Jesus. The teen ministers can’t do it. The parents can, though, and the teen minister can support the parents. But if the parents don’t have a passion to pass down, it’s awfully hard to convince the kids to be more passionate about Jesus than their parents.
Here are the keys —
1. Your children need to see you regularly make decisions for Jesus and against your own self-interest. They need to see you give away your football tickets so you can go to a retreat. They need to see you give up vacation time for missions. They need to see you decide to keep that car 3 more years so you can give money to Compassion International.
2. Your children need to see their father being a spiritual leader. I don’t mean “spiritual leader” as in “boss of the house.” I mean someone who leads in spiritual matters — who is the first one to suggest the need for prayer, to insist that the family go to church even though they have company from out of town, to tell his kids to skip all-stars and go to the Honduras mission trip instead — because serving Jesus is more important than baseball.
It’s not that the wife shouldn’t also be a spiritual leader. She should. It’s that your children won’t really buy into Christianity until dad buys in, too — especially if you have sons.
3. Mom and dad need to both be involved in children’s ministry. It doesn’t have to be all the time, but small children are not abstract thinkers. They won’t understand that dad and mom love Jesus until dad and mom teach Bible class and tell them how much dad and mom love Jesus. Be sure your kids don’t grow up having never heard a Bible lesson from both of their parents. TEACH YOUR KIDS AT HOME AND AT CHURCH. Church is not a vacation from your kids. It’s a great chance to show your kids how much Jesus means to you.
And so, if we were to envision this re-planted church, we’d have to envision a church where instruction in parenting for Jesus is a high priority — maybe the highest. What’s the point of being a Christian and not passing it on to the next generation? If we don’t, Christianity dies with us, and I wouldn’t want to face Jesus with that on my record! And I wouldn’t want to be in heaven without my kids being there with me.