At the recent D6 conference, I was asked to share in a general session about parents leading their children spiritually.
Thankfully, in the last 20 years, the church has made great strides in helping parents grasp and understand their role as the biggest spiritual influence in their children's lives.
Numerous tools and resources have been developed to equip parents to be the spiritual leader of their child. From take home papers to apps to videos to devotionals, there are lots of great resources available.
But let's be realistic. All of us, at times, have wondered if the tools and resources we are placing in parents' hands are being used. Take home papers end up in the parking lot or floorboard of the van where they remain until it's time to clean the vehicle. Text messages ding parents' phones, but how often do parents follow through with the questions you sent them? You wonder if the apps are actually being used. Facebook posts for parents where you see some views and likes, but far less than you had hoped for.
In my talk at the D6 conference, I compared the tools and resources we give parents to helping them get a hit for their children. If you want to make the comparison, you could say these tools and resources are singles, maybe even a double at times. And they do make a difference when they are used. Over time, singles and doubles can add up to parents scoring points for their children's spiritual journey.
But one of the challenges the church faces is not being able to fully see what happens in the home. So we end up hoping and praying the tools and resources are being used.
But what if we could help parents hit a home run with their kids' discipleship? What if we could give parents the opportunity to add some big, high-impact, game changing home runs with their children? Singles are good. Doubles are good. But there's nothing that can impact a game like a home run.
I believe there are a few key times in a family's life when you can sit them up to hit a home run with their children. Let's look at some of these high-profile, big impact opportunities that can change a family's life. All of these are designed for parents and children to go through together.
Home run opportunity #1 - Parent and Child Dedication. Have parents go through a class before the dedication. In the class, share not only the significance and meaning of the dedication, but also teach parents how to be their child's spiritual leader on a day-to-day basis.
Home run opportunity #2 - Bible Presentation. When children are entering elementary school, host a Bible presentation. Include a class where you teach kids and parents how we got the Bible, how to read it and how to apply it. Show parents how to make the Bible an every day part of their family's journey. At the end of the class, have parents present a Bible to their child and pray over them.
Home run opportunity #3 - Accepting Jesus as Savior. Parents should be involved in their child's most important life decision. Rather than praying a salvation prayer with kids when their parents are not present, move to a class format that parents and their children attend together. In this class, explain what it means to follow Jesus. Give parents the opportunity to lead their children in a prayer of salvation. Also provide them with follow-up tools to go back over the content at home.
Home run opportunity #4 - Baptism. After completing home run #3, kids and parents can attend a baptism class. Baptism is carefully explained and you will see many parents make a decision to be baptized as well. I remember a baptism where 3 generations were baptized together. Grandfather, father and son were all baptized at the same time. Talk about a home run, there's nothing like seeing a child and parent take this step together. I've seen it happen hundreds of times.
Home run opportunity #5 - Elementary Graduation Celebration. When children are moving from elementary into middle school, parents get nervous. How do we parent a teenager? How can I prepare my child for life as a teenager? What new challenges or temptations will they face? How can I help my child make wise decisions?
Bring children and parents together for a class that teaches parents and children how to navigate the middle school years. Trust me, parents will welcome the Biblical advice you will provide. Close out the class with a time of parental blessing. Parents write out a note to their child, read it to them and pray over them.
How do I know these 4 milestones are home runs? First, you can see it in the parent's demeanor and hear it in their voices. Secondly, there are tears. Lots of tears as parents and children pray together. You can hear the impact in their prayers. You can sense it as parents read a blessing over their child.
You can see and hear the home runs unfold right before your eyes.
Does this mean we should stop trying to hit singles and doubles each week through take home papers, apps, etc.? No, again, these can have a compound effect for parents and children. But if really want to see life-changing discipleship, add in the home run steps listed above and you will see major life change in families.
I believe a great example of a home run experience for a child and parent is found in Abraham and his son, Isaac. God set it up by telling Abraham to take his son, Isaac, to the mountain and sacrifice him. Wow...talk about setting up a home run experience! As you know, at the last minute, God told Abraham not to sacrifice Isaac. It was a life-changing moment for Abraham and Isaac. They never forgot that day, I am sure. It was a catalyst in their faith journey and relationship with each other.
If you'd like more information about the experiences I talked about in this article, you can see samples, video clips and more at the link below.