Get Ready to be Ready
My personal context for coming to faith in Jesus was pretty straight forward. Church life was a family experience that was shared by most of my relatives. I could mark my weekly calendar by the regular events that happened at church. I attended a Sunday morning training time, a Sunday evening family worship time, a Wednesday evening time of prayer, and age-appropriate events. All of these times had a focus of evangelism and discipleship. Discipleship took the form of biblical lessons and devotionals. It wasn’t a very holistic experience, but it was effective at making sure I knew where to begin.
That being said, church life was the place to begin a relationship with Jesus. It was the hospital for the spiritually sick. I’m certainly thankful for that, but I've often wondered why the saving experience was so relegated to a place outside the context of my family life at home. I can chuckle about it now, but it wasn’t funny when the 8-year-old me nearly severed the little finger from my right hand. I still have the scar and the awful memory of my mother panic-stricken and holding my hand together in a bloody dish rag. We had to get to the “Emergency Room.” I’d never been to the “Emergency Room,” but it was the only hope that came from my mother’s trembling voice, and I took comfort in her hope.
After that traumatic experience, I often noticed that when a child, a cousin perhaps, started entertaining and thinking deeply about spiritual things, reasoning about scripture and such, the older people almost panicked—“Get this child to church! Stat!” Why didn’t I see more conversional experiences in the living rooms and kitchens of my youth? I think it was well meaning. Parents who were believers certainly knew the gospel. They had even prayed for the salvation of their kids. They just weren’t conditioned or trained to bring the moment to completion over a supper of cornbread and pinto beans. They needed to be in church, even better if they talked with the pastor.
Again, I’m not cheapening that process at all, but I do want to change the paradigm if that is your understanding of your responsibility. It is, I believe, the greatest privilege of parents to prayerfully prepare themselves to have a series of conversations with their children, perhaps over the course of years, to lead them effectively toward a personal understanding of saving faith in the Lord Jesus. Part of our responsibility as a church is not just to preach the gospel but to train you to preach it as well. You can do this even without a seminary degree. Even better, perhaps not having a seminary degree will help you keep it simpler. You know your own kids better than anyone. That being the case, who better to lead them according to their personality and maturity than you?
This weekend we will consider as a congregation what it means for parents to get ready so that we will be ready for the time when our kids are ready to embrace the Lord Jesus.