John Mulholland, a youth minister in Cedar Rapids, Iowa asked a great question today. “WHAT ABOUT THE OTHERS?”
Essentially John asks a question that is at the forefront of practitioners minds as they read Shift. Clearly the scriptures teach that we should equip parents to lead their children spiritually. We should spend a significant amount of our efforts and energy pouring into moms and dads so they can disciple their children. The question becomes, “What about the kids whose parents don’t lead them?”
My assumption in writing Shift is that the church universal already gets one side of the coin. The church understands that it must make disciples according to Matthew 28:18-20. We develop children’s ministries, youth ministries, and adult ministries to help us do just that. The Shift then is realizing their are two sides of the discipleship coin, church and home.
For the kids whose parents will never lead them spiritually the church functions as the adoptive family. Church is a good thing. A student, for example, who will never be led by his father gains a youth pastor, a life group leader, and other significant adult relationships that help them walk the path of spiritual formation. This never changes for churches making the Shift. We intentionally push discipleship into the home and we intentionally make disciples through the work of the church. We work both sides of the coin.
It is important to understand that children whose parents do lead them spiritually are in need of other biblical influencers in their lives. A child whose single mom effectively teaches her Scripture and demonstrates life in Christ benefits greatly from the influence of children’s Sunday school teachers, VBS leaders, and others. A teenager whose parents have led them biblically from the beginning needs relationships with other adults who walk with Christ. The church provides this in a beautiful way.
The church becomes Plan A for kids whose parents will never lead them spiritually. When a parent is willing to lead, the church is a clear partner in the process, equipping the parent and investing in the child as an echo of the Christian parent.
This does not change our message. We as leaders have to expect and equip the family to take the lead as we work together to equip the generations… one home at a time.