By Mark Walz
I was a youth pastor for a lot of years, and I was pretty good at it. I knew how to gather students, teach them the gospel, and organize the ministry. However, few of the students I taught and ministered to retained an active faith and an active involvement in a church beyond high school. All of my youth ministries looked remarkably similar to a typical one you’d find. We had a large gathering for worship once a week. We had big events from time to time: concerts, trips, camps, etc. We had weekly activities. We even had small groups. And these youth groups grew. But one thing I failed at, and looking back may have been the most important thing I could have done, was pour into parents.
As much as youth ministers influence children, it pales in comparison to the influence of parents and schools. Just think of the sheer amount of time they spend outside of church doing other things and being with other people who influence them. And although we, as youth pastors, would like to have say and influence over schools there were limitations. But parents typically wanted their children moved and educated by the gospel. They want a church’s influence. And we should have done a better job, because they are the main influence in their child’s life.
Imagine if the church could show parents how to disciple their children? What if we gave them the resources, training, and encouragement they needed be the main disciplers of their children? Imagine if each father and mother took it upon themselves to bring them up in the way of the Lord by daily and weekly teaching and modeling Christian discipleship? Parents ought to be discipline their kids and training their kids up in the faith — they are the primary influence. Unfortunately, the church has by and large adopted a principle of hiring out the spiritual teaching of kids to ministry professionals.
Now as a pastor over a congregation, I want to do things differently. Besides, now I am a parent and I see even more the value of this truth, of this responsibility. I need to bring my kids up in the Lord. It is my responsibility to disciple them.
So how do we do it? Where do we start?
We have begun a new sermon series for the month of August entitled, “The Path to a Strong Family.” This coming Sunday is our 2nd sermon, focused in the faith of a family. I hope you can join us, because we will be discussing not only the importance of faith in a family, but how we disciple one another in the Lord.