I used to hate mowing the lawn for my dad. It was the worst job ever. The first problem was that we lived in New Mexico so our “lawn” consisted almost entirely of dirt and weeds. There were, however, just enough weeds to require them to be cut down by our push mower about once a week. The second and worse thing about mowing for my dad was that I always seemed to do it wrong. I know, how can you mow dirt and weeds wrong? Good question, but according to my dad, I was never doing it right. So do you know what he did? He took that mower and finished the job. Eventually, I decided to suck at mowing from the very start. I stopped trying and eventually wasn’t asked to mow anymore. Score!
Just like my dad taking the mower and sending me inside, the church seems to have told parents, “We got this. Leave your child with us and we’ll make them prefect little Christ followers.” Parents have responded as any young man who just got relieved of a chore would and backed down. Feeling that they are obviously not equipped properly to handle their child’s spirituality, they hand that responsibility over to the kid’s pastor or youth pastor like I gladly handed the mower to my dad. “Ok, my life’s busy, I’ve got so much to worry about already, thanks for handling this.”
I spent the last post yelling at parents for not taking the responsibility, now I’m going to spend this post screaming at the church to release the reigns. That’s right, here comes key number three:
The church’s job is to EQUIP PARENTS to raise their children to be adults who are whole in Christ.
Yes! Kid’s ministries and youth ministries are important. They are a critically important TOOL for parents to use as a piece of the strategy for raising Godly kids. A tool. Not the end all be all of our kid’s spiritual influence. These ministries should support and strengthen what we do everyday in our lives at home. I know a lot of youth and children’s pastors, and the majority of them can name student after student who’s walk with God they’re not sure about because of the influences they have at home. It’s an uphill battle we fight.
I saw a guy at a conference with a shirt that had the fraction 168/1 printed on it. I, of course, asked him to explain. The fraction represents the ration of hours spent with parents versus the hour per week a child/student gets with a kid’s or youth pastor. One hundred and sixty eight hours to one. That’s quite the influence. Why, as ministers, do we put so much effort into that one hour per week instead of finding ways to influence the folks spending the 168 hours with these kids?
In Ephesians 4:11-13 we’re told that the leaders of the church are supposed to equip the people in the church. Somehow we’ve strayed from equipping them to taking on the role of spiritual figurehead. Instead of giving them tools and training we’re giving them sermons and services and hoping they’ll come so we’ll be the biggest congregation in town. Come on, church leaders. Lets get back to what God’s word says and lets equip our people to be who God’s called them to be. What we’re doing now obviously isn’t working so let’s fix it. Let’s equip parents to be the major influence in their kid’s lives. Lets do what we can to equip the 168 instead of spending all of our time on the one!
Author: Michael Prince
Michael Prince co-authored “What’s in Your Pocket? A parent’s guide to protecting your children online.” with his wife Melinda. They have four kids and live in an RV anywhere in the USA they see the need for an internet safety expert. Michael is leading the conversation in the American Church about family online security. He and Melinda founded BecauseFamily, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip parents to be the first influence in the lives of their children, in 2013. Michael is also a geek and loves Star Wars, Doctor Who, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and strategy board games.