Parenting is a journey many of us are privileged to be on. We experience the heights of joy and love as well as anxiety, disappointment, and grief at various stages of development. Simultaneously, parents and children both grow up. At each milestone, there’s an opportunity for parents to reflect on how we’ve been changed and grown through parenting.
It’s an undeserved gift when the Lord brings your child from life to death through the saving work of Christ (Eph. 2:5). At my son’s baptism, it was clear how formational our church had been as a partner in his coming to believe the gospel. As parents, we’re not alone in this process.
This is God’s missional invitation—to come alongside families and individuals in proclaiming the gospel. In church planting, we often focus on the external community we serve. This is good and right, but there’s a mission field we need not neglect—the families around us. We must create a consistent and faithful community for our kids to grow up in.
My son can name the influential people in our church who most impacted his spiritual development. The simplicity of what he articulated struck me. As pastors and ministry leaders, consider how these ideas shared by my teenage son may encourage you to recognize the importance of a faithful church community.
Diversity of Leaders
Since the early days of his childhood, he’s heard a consistent message through diverse leaders. From his class as a three-year-old to before the service gospel formation time in 5th grade, to middle school youth group and breakfast club in high school, he heard the gospel. The application points shifted in each life stage, but the invitation to believe was consistent. At my son’s baptism, it was clear how formational our church had been as a partner in his coming to believe the gospel. Click To Tweet
He had other parents, older saints, newly married, and young singles all pour into his life. The church culture of service meant many people got to know him through the years, which grew a blanket of relationships that embraced him through each stage, even the awkward ones!
Consistent Culture of Repentance and Belief
Repentance is a cornerstone of our faith (Mark 1:15). We believe and surrender to God, owning where we’ve missed the mark and, by faith, trust in the work of Christ on our behalf. We can admit our failings because we are in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). My son saw this on display in our church.
He saw his leaders confess wrongdoing and believe the gospel countless times. He learned that he didn’t need to perform or adhere to a set of moral behaviors. He could be himself, live transparently, be open to correction and guidance, and be led to Jesus’s grace.
Interest in the Person
Pastors, leaders, friends, and congregants were genuinely interested in who he was. There were no barriers of age or stage, and many adults waded through awkward moments in his growing-up years. There’s a mission field we need not neglect—the families around us. We must create a consistent and faithful community for our kids to grow up in. Click To Tweet
He experienced genuine love and curiosity from others that allowed him to open his life and, in turn, receive feedback and lessons. Many people came to his sports games, encouraged him with written notes when he broke his arm, asked about his schooling, and noticed when he wasn’t in the pew.
These core experiences contributed to the fateful moment when my son was saved. His salvation is exclusively the work of God, who comes to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Yet, God worked through the church’s faithful witness to create an environment that showed off the glory of God.
We get to embody this for unbelievers. We also get to live with integrity among one another, where the sweetness of Christ and the safety of the church is a place our kids run to belong. May we plant and lead churches that are safe, available, and continually inviting all to Jesus.