boyradd

Forgiven…Loved…..Transformed!

Part 3: Being a (Single) Parent – The Church’s Role

Luke 18:16 – But Jesus called to him saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for such belongs to the kingdom of God.”

The church clearly belongs to God.  So what does “belong” mean in this verse above and what does it have to do with being a single parent and the church together?  First, Jesus clearly means all children.  He used the word paidion, which is translated as babies, toddlers, and older children.  The word belong, in many older versions is translated as “for of such.”  This clearly means that kids have what it takes to enter the kingdom of heaven.  (Thanks to Mimi for sending me research on this as I don’t have internet access at the moment)

But Fred, you don’t know MY kids!  They would never be able to enter the kingdom of heaven with the attitude that they have!

My first question back to you, parent, will be, “are you sure that attitude problem is all theirs?”

Ephesians 6:4 – Do not provoke your kids to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

This goes for all of us who are parents, if you kid has an attitude problem, most likely it started with us first.  If we are angering our kids regularly, they are going to change.  They are going to harden their hearts.  They are going to get bitter.  I am just as guilty as anyone in this, so don’t think I am simply passing judgment from an ivory tower.  The times that I have had the worst encounters with my kids were the times I am sure they had the worst encounters with me.

So what can churches do help parents to raise godly children and have joyful childhoods?  Some of this is simply the words of a single parent.  Others, I believe, are biblical calls for the church.

First, teach parents how to be parents.

1 Timothy 3:4 – He must manage his household well.

This command is set in place for elders and deacons, but let’s look at this a little deeper.  The hope is that churches will plant more churches.  Churches with similar focuses on the Bible and the Trinity and discipleship.  If we are planting those kinds of churches, we are going to need a serious influx of leaders.  The best way to find leaders is to create them.  Churches need to teach men and women, how to lead effectively.  Not just in ministry, but all around.  We should be teaching our families how to be better families in the way of the Lord.  A church will stagnate if there is a vacuum of leadership.

A significant benefit from this is that families will be stronger.  If all of the church is consistent in their teaching to parents (both single and married) then families get reinforced and the church becomes a place where not just the adults are called, but the kids are as well, “for such is the kingdom of God.”

Second, and this is simply a single parent speaking (whining?) here, but churches need to understand sports schedules and school schedules.  Don’t have youth group on nights when the majority of your kids have sports practices.  Don’t keep your youth out late on school nights.

Maybe (just maybe) offer homework tutoring as a ministry to your kids.  If your youth are in a certain sport together, provide the halftime oranges or after-game snack.

This is just simple marketing.  If you become known for being the church that cares about the kids, you will get many more adults who see what is happening and will come check out your church.

Finally, third, become the place that kids WANT to come hang out.

Luke 18:16 – But Jesus called to him saying, “Let the children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for such belongs to the kingdom of God.”

If you become the place that kids want to hang out, then you will be very well known for having a future church in the kids that you disciple.

Church, do you realize that you have the power to spread the gospel in ways that other religions or countries can only hope for?  You have a base of kids who WANT to be with you if you will simply give them that opportunity.  The kids WANT to spend time at church.  They just don’t know it yet, and neither do most churches.  Churches don’t know what to do with kids.

We usually give them only one day a week while we require other members to work in the church throughout the week.  The kids need to understand that they are just as important to the church as the adults.  If they don’t understand that, then the future churches will be made of complacent Christians.

Church, we need to understand our role in the parenting of our children.  We need to raise up not just the next generation, but also the current generation that is raising the next generation.  We need to be a resource.  We need to be available.  We need to be the light for all to come to Christ and live toward a holy life.

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