2018 | Week of April 23 | #1252
Today’s big question: how can the church equip parents to lead well and do more by being spiritual leaders at home?
A recent article in the Baptist Bible Tribune deals with this very important question. In fact the entire edition of this magazine was given to God’s plan for family. Since no specific author is noted on the article entitled “Partnering with Parents,” I can’t give any person accolades for this timely, thought-provoking and practical piece. However, I can share with you the major points and add my hearty “Amen.”
The article gives some numbers related to how much time the church has each year to influence a child and how much time parents have each year. I thought the numbers were just a bit off, so I did some calculation on my own. I think my numbers, frankly, are skewed in favor of the church. If a child goes to every service a church has–Sunday School, morning worship, evening service, Wednesday night or another youth night and has other youth group activities during the week, the church has about 338 hours per year to influence a child. With children too young for youth groups, that number drops to 234. Assume the child is in school and that means the school has about 1260 hours per year to influence a child. Take out 8 hours a night for sleep, and parents have about 4,200 hours each year to influence their child. So it’s pretty obvious that parents have the most opportunity to influence a child. This is completely consistent with God’s plan, by the way.
The article gives 5 key points known as the Orange Strategy, as created by Reggie Joiner. First, nothing is more important than someone’s relationship with God. Second point, No one has more potential influence in a child’s relationship with God than a parent. Third point, No one has more potential to influence the parent than the church. Fourth point, the church’s potential to influence a child dramatically increases when it partners with a parent. And the fifth point in the Orange Strategy is the parent’s potential to influence a child dramatically increases when the parent partners with the church.
In summary, the Orange Strategy is all about the church and the family working together to leverage influence in a child’s life. The article suggests that the church doesn’t encourage the parents to do everything but to take just the next step in building children who know and love God. The church, for instance, gives some practical suggestions: have a family meal together, moms reconnect with sons and convincing them they matter, a dad prays with his kids before bedtime, parents vow to get their family to church more regularly, read and discuss a devotion supplied by the church that fosters conversation about what God is doing in the life of a teen.
The church needs to focus also on the hours it has opportunity to influence a child and make better use of that time. The anonymous author suggests that the church focus more on family ministry than on children’s ministry, with considerable time given to building relationships with kids and parents that point everyone to Jesus. Another idea, working on the premise that as children get older they start looking to others for input into their lives, is that each child has 5 safe adults, in addition to their parents, that really get to know the child and will commit to praying for the child and being there to advise and encourage. These are adults within the church that the parents can also trust.
The whole idea is to have the church actively supporting parents with Biblical teaching, tools and resources that help parents lead their kids into a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and that the church also takes seriously itself building into the life of the children in its fellowship.
God’s plan for family is beautiful—a married dad and mom bringing up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, the biological and/or adopted children, God gives them. God’s plan for the church is beautiful, too—a body of believers investing in each other’s lives in authentic and truly helpful ways, including partnering with parents in hopes that together they build strong Christian young people who no matter what will stand strong in their faith, become faithful church members themselves, and one day want to replicate in their own lives what they have had growing up. Talk about a worthy goal—and definitely one worth working for.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”