Archive for the tag “parenting”

Part 3: Being a (Single) Parent – The Church’s Role

Luke 18:16 – But Jesus called to him saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for such belongs to the kingdom of God.”

The church clearly belongs to God.  So what does “belong” mean in this verse above and what does it have to do with being a single parent and the church together?  First, Jesus clearly means all children.  He used the word paidion, which is translated as babies, toddlers, and older children.  The word belong, in many older versions is translated as “for of such.”  This clearly means that kids have what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Thanks to Mimi for sending me research on this as I don’t have internet access at the moment)

But Fred, you don’t know MY kids!  They would never be able to enter the kingdom of heaven with the attitude that they have!

My first question back to you, parent, will be, “are you sure that attitude problem is all theirs?”

Ephesians 6:4 – Do not provoke your kids to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This goes for all of us who are parents, if you kid has an attitude problem, most likely it started with us first.  If we are angering our kids regularly, they are going to change.  They are going to harden their hearts.  They are going to get bitter.  I am just as guilty as anyone in this, so don’t think I am simply passing judgment from an ivory tower.  The times that I have had the worst encounters with my kids were the times I am sure they had the worst encounters with me.

So what can churches do help parents to raise godly children and have joyful childhoods?  Some of this is simply the words of a single parent.  Others, I believe, are biblical calls for the church.

First, teach parents how to be parents.

1 Timothy 3:4 – He must manage his household well.

This command is set in place for elders and deacons, but let’s look at this a little deeper.  The hope is that churches will plant more churches.  Churches with similar focuses on the Bible and the Trinity and discipleship.  If we are planting those kinds of churches, we are going to need a serious influx of leaders.  The best way to find leaders is to create them.  Churches need to teach men and women, how to lead effectively.  Not just in ministry, but all around.  We should be teaching our families how to be better families in the way of the Lord.  A church will stagnate if there is a vacuum of leadership.

A significant benefit from this is that families will be stronger.  If all of the church is consistent in their teaching to parents (both single and married) then families get reinforced and the church becomes a place where not just the adults are called, but the kids are as well, “for such is the kingdom of God.”

Second, and this is simply a single parent speaking (whining?) here, but churches need to understand sports schedules and school schedules.  Don’t have youth group on nights when the majority of your kids have sports practices.  Don’t keep your youth out late on school nights.

Maybe (just maybe) offer homework tutoring as a ministry to your kids.  If your youth are in a certain sport together, provide the halftime oranges or after-game snack.

This is just simple marketing.  If you become known for being the church that cares about the kids, you will get many more adults who see what is happening and will come check out your church.

Finally, third, become the place that kids WANT to come hang out.

Luke 18:16 – But Jesus called to him saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for such belongs to the kingdom of God.”

If you become the place that kids want to hang out, then you will be very well known for having a future church in the kids that you disciple.

Church, do you realize that you have the power to spread the gospel in ways that other religions or countries can only hope for?  You have a base of kids who WANT to be with you if you will simply give them that opportunity.  The kids WANT to spend time at church.  They just don’t know it yet, and neither do most churches.  Churches don’t know what to do with kids.

We usually give them only one day a week while we require other members to work in the church throughout the week.  The kids need to understand that they are just as important to the church as the adults.  If they don’t understand that, then the future churches will be made of complacent Christians.

Church, we need to understand our role in the parenting of our children.  We need to raise up not just the next generation, but also the current generation that is raising the next generation.  We need to be a resource.  We need to be available.  We need to be the light for all to come to Christ and live toward a holy life.

Part 2: Being a (Single) Parent

Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Last week we looked at the parent’s role in being a single parent.  This week I want to look at the world’s role.  Now, when I say “the world” that conjures up all type of negative imagery of Paul telling us not to conform to the world.  And this is true.  But look at life through the eyes of a child.  The world, to them, is a place filled with wonder, excitement, and amazing things.  The only world a child knows is the circle of family and friends that mommy and/or daddy has.

To a child, the world is good.

And that is the world that I want to elaborate on this week.  Not the world that is filled with pornography, child abuse, and drugs.

So what can the world do to help Christian parents to raise godly children?  Keep in mind, most of these are not biblical truths more than they are simple views of a single parent who is trying to raise his kids in the way of the Lord.

1)      Don’t schedule games (or practices) on Sundays…or at least if you do, schedule them in the late afternoon/early evening.

Next Sunday my daughter has a soccer game, her last of the season, while church is still happening.  Now I know what you are saying, why don’t you just go to a different church service?  That is an option at my church, to go to an earlier service, but it is not available at every church.  Smaller churches may only have one service available.  Also, churches are made up of a community of Christians.  You can’t be a community if you don’t fellowship together.  Being involved at church requires a time commitment as well.  All of this means that I had to tell my daughter that I would be missing her last game of the season.

We as parents, and especially Christian parents, understand that there is only a small window of time available for kids to play in their sports.  So there is one simple solution:  build more parks.  Again, not a biblical truth, but a parent’s view of what is needed to help alleviate the need to schedule games during church.

Local governments take heed, this is a large constituency that you are alienating!  I live in the Annapolis MD area.  Assuming our 102 churches in the area are equal to the national average, then 20% of the Annapolis area goes to church!  In voting numbers, that is a fairly large number.

2)      Companies, don’t feel that the almighty dollar ranks above family.  And for heaven’s sake, close on Sundays.

Now, you can call me a hypocrite here.  I have worked on Sundays before.  I have also purchased goods and services on a Sunday.  So now I need to take a dose of my own medicine.  Of the 314 million people in the USA today, almost 9% attend church weekly.  That is a very large number, almost 27 million.

This will require a change in thinking.  A shift in our own culture.

So I am throwing the challenge out there.  Can you make it through a Sunday without purchasing something from a business?  See what happens when you change your buying habits on Sundays.  Eventually, if we can get the rest of the Christians in the USA to make this happen, perhaps less people will have to work on Sundays.

Again, this can be unpopular because people will feel it will increase unemployment or hurt low-income families, the majority of whom are the ones who find someone in the family has to work on a Sunday.  But I believe the opposite will happen.  If we change our buying habits to other days of the week, those sales that originally would have gone on Sunday will go on another day.  That will increase the need for labor on those other days of the week.  This will end in equal labor needs.

3)      Christians are just like any other person.  The only difference is that while everyone is a sinner, Christians are simply saved sinners.

The biggest thing my unsaved friends and colleagues tell me is that as a Christian they feel I am judging every action they make.  I am not a judge.  That is God’s job.  I simply point out what the Bible says about our actions.  Not for purpose of sending anyone to hell, but for the purpose of lifting everyone up so that we may all go to heaven one day.

This translates into how we raise our children.  While even Christians disagree on how to raise kids (just ask my girlfriend and I about our own differences), it does mean that we will raise them up to see when right and wrong are happening and that we will raise them up to understand what absolute morality means and that it exists.  So we understand that you will tell us to stay out of raising your kids.  But please understand that we, too, have a way to raise our kids.  Our way is based on Biblical principle.  So if we pull our young children out of a class on evolution until we feel that they are ready to understand it, please work with us.  If we pull our children out of class when you hand out condoms in sex education, please understand it has nothing against you, it is simply that we biblical believe that purity discussions on the importance of our child’s mind, body, soul, and heart are more important than telling them that having sex can get you pregnant.  And if we choose to home school our children instead of subjecting them to the world’s messed up views of tolerance and relativism, then accept us.  To choose your own buzz word, you should tolerate us.  Not hinder us because we are different or counter-cultural.

So world, we simply ask that you let us raise our kids to understand the world as we view it.  I want my kids to have a strong Christian worldview.  I want them to understand truly what tolerance means.  I want them to know that love and marriage are more important than sex and pleasure-highs.  I want them to know that God is first and foremost, not the almighty dollar.

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