Monday, April 13, 2009

A Plea for Multi-Generational Parenting pt. 2

Deut 5:29 Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!

These are the words of God about the commitments of the children of Israel to follow God's commandments. This was His hope for the current Israelites, the generations to come, and those of us who are grafted into the vine. And as I listen to grandparents whose grands and great-grands are wandering far from His ways, and as I read the latest numbers from Barna that say that 75-88% of second year college students that come out of the church are no longer participating in any kind of church life. Listen to the stats from another study recently published--out of 1200 adults with children under 18 years old living at home--only 15% include godliness in their children as a mark of successful parenting, only 24% of people who attend weekly religious services included it, only 29% of "born-again" Christians indicate that their faith even influences their parenting! And we wonder why the trends continue to escalate!

We must realign our goals in parenting, and seek the face and the instruction and help of God, if we ever hope to stem the tide. We must become discontent with cultural and nominally Christian goals! The parents in the above cited study listed these as the top five goals in parenting: 1) children have good values, 2) children become happy adults, 3) children are successful, 4) children become "good people," and finally, 5) getting a college degree. Nothing wrong with most of these, but the main goal is not to raise "good" kids, educated kids, athletically superior kids, well-mannered kids, church kids, moral kids, or kids with a healthy self-esteem. Our goal is to rear children that love Christ, supremely value Christ, and are valuable to the kingdom. If our children do not become God-centered, Christ-exalting, and Bride-loving as adults, something has gone wrong. (And this is not to say that perfect parenting produces perfect kids, or that all kids that go bad have histories of parental failure. There are no guarantees!) But whatever else our children achieve, if they do not love Christ and serve Him, all of their accomplishments will be wood, hay, and stubble in the kingdom. And my fear is that we take far too causal an approach to passing on the faith to the next generation. We must be intentional, and redouble every effort to ensure above all things their loyalty to Christ to the best of our abilities and to the glory of God.

Unfortunately the two groups of young people that I see continue in the faith are those that have radically sold out Christ-centered, fanatical parents, AND those that have unbelievers for parents, and very little support at home. I see countless numbers of youth that belong to normally committed church members going astray. I see youth who come from these families knowing the Sunday School answers, and how to act around the preacher and the church folks, but with very little genuine Christian fruit. Then when they are left to their own design without the restraining parental influence of home, they do not follow Christ. And if the children don't, how will the grands and great-grands fare? And why in part--because our goals are far too weak and our standards too low.

We must intentionally parent our children to faith with doctrine, scripture, family worship, godly parental examples free from hypocrisy and "churchianity," proper emphasis and priorities, biblical financial and relational and educational training, etc. We must consider our ways, lest we share the experience of many of our grandparents, and watch our future generations live lives that do not glorify the Most Glorious One! Parent for multiple generations that follow you so that you raise up Christian ballistic missiles that will all look back on you as the legend of faith in the family that laid the foundations for hundreds of faithful that come from your clan. And may the kingdom benefit from your efforts!

1 comment:

  1. It seems to me that the root issue here is that many, if not most, "church members" are not Christians at all nor are their children. Little surprise then that they stop going to gatherings when they get out of the house.