The generation that was taught the Shema by Moses in Deutereonomy 6 was the same generation whose parents died in the wilderness. They were the same generation whose great grand kids would fall from faith after the death of Joshua in Judges 2 where the Bible says Joshua died and a whole generation grew up who didn’t know the Lord. This Deuteronomy generation were going to be the ones to finally took things seriously and they did…for a generation or two before the wheels faith off the faith bus one more time.
We are living in a time where the issue of passing faith on to the next generation has come back to the forefront through movements like Think Orange and D6…we have realized that a generation arose that didn’t know how to pass their faith on and a generation of young adults that just couldn’t hang on to what little they had. We can diagnose why this happened culturally and religiously and that would do us some good in understanding our current situation. But all of that is behind us. The generation that died in the wilderness is dead in the wilderness. What we don’t want to see is our grandchildren fall away because too much emphasis was put on the Joshua’s among us and not enough emphasis was put on dad and mom and their obligation to train their own children to have faith in God. Joshua won’t raise your children in faith and neither will your preach or elders…only you can do that for your kids.
Where we go from here is important. On the macro church level our recognition of the failure of past models of children’s ministry and discipleship and the move to a better (more parent-centered) approach is going to have a great impact. It will change the way we see ministry from ministry to children, to ministry with parents. On a micro home level this is going to have a great impact. It will change the way parents see their responsibility vs the responsibilities of the church staff in who is ultimately responsible for raising their children in faith.
I believe the results of our tackling this issue as churches, church leaders and as parents is going to cause a fundamental culture shift in our churches to a healthier model. It is going to cause us to do more equipping and less placating…more exhorting and encouraging and less guilting and shaming. It is going to force us to re-evangelize the church back to the primary-core responsibilities of the Christian faith that we have exchanged for a more nominal and mundane version of Christianity. All of this because our children are that important and their growing up in faith is that important…we can move mountains when it comes to our kids and I believe that is exactly what is happening.
Here are a few things that can potentially derail all of this:
- Co-dependent ministers and church leadership who are not willing to make these necessary adjustments due to a variety of reasons
- Homeostasis – reverting back to the same old way of doing things is strong…it takes a tremendous effort to shift paradigms. We see the old approach is failing our kids as they reach the adult years but we don’t always know what to replace it with.
- Busy parents – let’s just be honest…one of the biggest detriments to the faith of our children are busy parents and busy families that are too worn out from being busy with sports and school and extra curriculars that faith training just never happens.
Let this be the generation that rises above status quo…that brings a fix to our failing systems of crossing our fingers and hoping disciples are produced to actively discipling our children with the church as a resource to equip us to do it ourselves. Too much is at stake to sit back and just hope things work out.