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Family DiscipleshipParenting: Teens and Beyond

ERLC 2018 – Church Structure, Parental Insecurity, and Parenting Adult Children

I recently had the privilege of participating on a panel at ERLC 2018 – The Storm-Tossed Family.  Following were the questions we were asked to prepare for and my bullet point responses. What would you add?

Parents don’t see their role as disciple-making. They are busy making sure they are fed, staying out of trouble, and getting into school. How does the disciple-making paradigm change the way we think about parenting?

  • I know what it’s like to be busy – 4 kids each two years apart. 6,4,2, newborn, 2010 was our teen year – 19-13.
  • We are not connecting what the Bible says about life to what we think about parenting.
  • We want to ask what will be best for our children 10,000 years from now.
  • God hasn’t just given us a baby but he has given us an eternal soul to influence.
  • So therefore we want to do all we can to prepare them for the judgment day as well as the graduation day.
  • We want to give our children the best. What is best? Parenting reveals what we functionally think of as best.
  • Knowing and loving JC is the best.
  • Once we make the GC our North Star, then we can navigate the parenting journey.
  • Then the Scriptures come alive as we think this way.
  • And the cool thing, is that parents also develop in our walk. Because God’s heart is not just that we are disciples but that we are disciple-makers.
  • Now I have little ones that I get to teach and shepherd. And the teacher always learns more than the student.

Gen Z kids are increasingly lonely, addicted to screens + brokenness in family, kids come longing for community, mother or father figure. What advice do you give to those who come into our ministries? 

  • The church should be a counterculture. And this is one area.
  • Ministry workers need to realize that seeing Christ-centered whole families is a need for those coming from brokenness.
  • Train and model family wholeness. Recruit families to serve in this way.
  • Healthy families are going to be tempted to be more self-focused. So to challenge them to be overflowing with the more broken that come in.
  • Church wide Corporate strategy for media. A best practices that is counter cultural. If you are youth leader, I would love to interact with you about that.

If the church is the family of God, how can churches and youth groups and small groups be refuges for people who feel disconnected or feel no sense of family or perhaps consider their online peer group their family.

  • Here is where the relatively healthy family can not turn in on itself but reach out to others.
  • Overlaps with being a healthy church where there is a commitment to the local church.
  • He sets the lonely in families. Ps 68:6
  • Less program oriented and more mentor/relational driven. But the younger must ask for help.
  • Kids are coming in way behind on social and relational skills the ability to handle hardship.
  • On the other hand, we need to send a message that this is place you come to learn to serve and die to yourself. If you are coming just for friends that’s self-oriented not Jesus oriented.

Chap this is your passion. As a parent of grown children and as a pastor, what are some gaps you see in the way churches equip parents and what advice would you give to kids ministry directors, youth pastors, and church leaders.

That’s difficult, Large churches/small churches, different cultural pressures, temptations. Thankful for these ministries, even as I advocate for greater family training and involvement. Aim for 10,000 years from now. Or 30.

1. Convictionally do I believe – The first place we live out the gospel is at home. All leaders need to see the family as a theological unit. Starts with leadership wrestling with 1 tim 3:4-5, 12 that pastors and deacons needs to manage his household well. An aspect of godliness. The Scriptures inform my family life. Jonathan Edwards Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church. Our parents as disciple-makers, how can they be part of the teaching process in our ministry or in the home. Not segmenting as much. That means I must have ongoing equipping of parents as part of the church plan.

2. Convictionally – do I believe the word of God builds the ministry? I don’t think youth ministries can fun kids into the kingdom. They are taking AP literature in school but we never give them AP Bible.

3. Convictionally – Am I teaching to persuade? – Paul said to Timothy continue in what you have learned and become convinced of. Realizing that children who made a profession of faith at a young age still need to be convinced. To make their faith their own. That is happening in their teens and early 20s in most cases.

4. In addition, I think we need to do a better job providing a counter-cultural media strategy and community. I would love to see churches help parents develop a college strategy.

Group – As a pastor, one of the experiences I often have is parents who feel ill equipped to parent well. Frankly I feel that insecurity at time. How can churches challenges parents to parent intentionally and well and have the confidence to that can do what God has called them to do.
3 legs of a chair to put underneath that insecurity.
1. We have to stop worrying about messing our children up. A friend who is on my board says the number one emotion he sees in moms is fear. Specifically fear of messing our children up. But we know from Scripture that they come messed up already, born with a sinful heart.
2. That insecurity should throw us back on the Lord. It is his wisdom and grace we need. Why do so few parenting books have chapters on prayer. I think there is a subtle suggestion that the perfect method will raise perfect children. And that’s not true. That insecurity throws us back on the Lord.
3. The Bible speaks to parenting. There are certain Parenting 101 principles that I layout in Parenting with Confidence and The Disciple-Making Parent. Past generations have known these. We don’t have to be ignorant.

As a pastor, if I believe the first and hardest place I live out the gospel is in the home, I am going to equip parents as part of the discipleship. I am going to assume problems that are hidden. Making a parenting resource short list. Is 1 Tim 3:4-5 in the Bible and if it is then this is an aspect of godliness and then it is a discipleship objective of the church.

Chap, As a parent and a pastor, what have you learned in terms of helping prepare your kids for adulthood and in parenting adult children?
1. We tried to think of the teen years as adult-in-training years. That’s a whole different discussion about a transition that I think happens around the age of 12-13.

2. We focused on being faithful not successful. They are going to make some mistakes and that’s on them. Not finding our identity in our children. This is the reality that they belong to the Lord not me. This was a stewardship.

3. You never outgrow your need for a dad or mom, but it changes.  I want to keep our hearts connected – big on breakfast dates and trying to ask good questions. Which means establish those dates when they are young and it just becomes part of the family culture. If we have connected to the heart we can keep that going.

4. Preparing for a type of suffering – you may discover you have a prodigal on your hand or watch them make some bad choices or someone hurt them. Asking myself – What do I tell to them and what do I just tell to the Lord. What is in my circle of concern and what is in my circle of responsibility. Proverbs says our hearts are connected, even with their choices.