We are living in unprecedented and difficult times in America and the world. We see millions upon millions upon millions of dollars, billions actually, being spent on outreach with the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world we live in. We see it on the internet, on You-Tube, through Vimeo, TV, radio, concerts, etc. Christians/churches in America are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on fancy facilities and equipment, smoke machines, coffee bars, playgrounds, food courts, and programs in an ever increasing attempt to make Christianity relevant and get people to listen.
While I commend every sincere effort to get the gospel of Jesus Christ out to the whole world, we need a serious reality check. We need a “come to Jesus moment” among ourselves to grasp what is really happening. By and large, Christianity has become a form of spiritual entertainment to most Christians, and the vast majority of Christian moms and dads are failing to raise and train their children to become devoted, obedient disciples of Jesus Christ.
If you have not read the book The Great Evangelical Recession by Dickerson or Revolutionary Parenting by Barna, please do so. I will not go into all the statistics here. I will simply sum up the findings and the findings of many others I have read over the last 32 years:
CHRISTIANS ARE FAILING AT AN ALARMING, CATASTROPHIC RATE TO CONVERT AND TRAIN OUR OWN CHILDREN TO LOVE AND HONOR JESUS CHRIST WITH THEIR LIVES, AND BE HIS FAITHFUL, OBEDIENT DISCIPLES.
WHY, WHY, WHY IS THIS THE CASE WHEN WE HAVE OUTSPENT ALL PREVIOUS GENERATIONS ON CHRISTIAN FACILITIES, CHRISTIAN PROGRAMS, CHRISTIAN MUSIC, AND CHRISTIAN STUFF!!!???
I would like to offer some insights to you fathers and spur you on to effective action.
It is not the primary purpose and goal of most parents! Most Christian dads and moms are not focused, envisioned, nor intentionally obeying Jesus’ last command to His followers: “Go make disciples, teach them to obey all I commanded you.” Most are simply living undisciplined, compromised, materialistic lives, content to just attend church service. In reality, their spiritual lives are lifeless and devoid of real power and deep connection to God.
Most Christian dads and moms are not really disciples themselves. They have never paid the price of discipleship laid out by Jesus Christ in the Gospels. They have never taken up their cross to follow Him. They are not passionately, fervently in love with Jesus Christ as their Lord nor faithful and disciplined in the spiritual habits that would make them godly, influential dads and moms. Most moms and dads do not ever share the gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone else, and their kids never see them laying down their lives in compassionate ways for other needy people.
Hypocrisy! Fathers! Why should my children obey me and follow me as their father when I am not obeying God, my Father, submitting to His authority and following Jesus Christ and his word willingly and passionately in my own day to day life?
Very, very few dads and moms have a living, breathing example of a father and mother/couple who are successfully raising their children for Jesus Christ, whom they can look to and pattern their lives after. The vast majority have never seen it done. So what they see around them are parents who in many cases made a half-hearted attempt, but failed, and so the young families behind them assume this is normal and they settle for normal. This is a travesty.
Most dads and moms do not wake up every single day with the primary burning passion on their hearts and minds to influence, win, and train their children to become life-long followers/disciples of Jesus Christ.
THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN!
When I was about 16 or 17 I first heard the song Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin. That song, the way it was sung and played, blew my mind. I mean, I loved that song and that band. I loved Robert Plant’s voice and Jimmy Paige’s guitar work. I especially loved it on that song. I would listen to it over and over again in my room.
Several years after it came out, I had my own “come to Jesus moment” in Dec. of 1975. It was a life-altering period of time that changed everything about my life. My values, my direction, my decisions and my ultimate purpose and plan in life.
However, I have never forgotten that song and its title. It became a metaphor of important truth to me as I followed Jesus Christ and sought to share God’s good news with others. My years of ministry experience have shown me that people need a path, a stairway if you will, that they can walk up, step by step, in their journey to embracing the gospel of Jesus Christ, instead of a giant chasm (that I like to call the Jesus jump), or that giant leap of faith. This is the leap that most Christians ask a non-Christian to make when accepting Christ. Instead of bringing a non-Christian to a place where it is the last small, reasonable, attractive, step of faith, that they take as a result of the relational and personal stairway we created for them, by the way, we were with them, the way we have related to them, treated them, loved them and served them and helped them understand the Gospel. This is much of what it means to be Salt and Light.
I knew that as a passionate follower of Jesus Christ, God wanted Kathy and me to influence, win, and disciple our children for Jesus Christ. I knew the Great commission starts in my home, with my very own children. If I cannot win and influence those who live with me and see me every day for 20 years, then what is my Christianity really worth? What does that really say about my credibility and witness?
Everything I strived to do as a father and husband were intentionally designed to make Christ and Christianity attractive to my children. Everything I did was to make it as easy as possible for my kids to believe. I often asked myself this question: Am I giving those around me reasons to believe in God and Christianity?
Every effort to grow spiritually and to crush and overcome the bad habits in my life were in large part so I would be a positive, impactful influence on my children’s lives and shape their faith.
Every decision I led Kathy and me to make regarding home education, our lifestyle choices, and other significant choices were made with the intent and purpose of giving our children the very best possible chance to accept Jesus Christ, to follow and obey Jesus Christ, and to be influenced in very positive, godly ways that would make Jesus Christ and His teachings very attractive and important to them. As Proverbs says, a wise man makes knowledge attractive!
Everything I did was to make the Bible relevant, understandable, and meaningful to them. To live it in such a way, that they would want to embrace it as their very own.
The churches I planted and were involved with at the time, were intentional so as show them what godly fellowship and commitment to God’s people look like. Every single message I preached over all the years they were growing up in my home and later helping me plant churches was with them in mind so as to impact their hearts, to persuade their minds, to shape their faith, and build their soul.
Everything I was striving to do in my relationship with them as they lived with me at home by encouraging them, loving them, being kind to them, correcting them, spending time with them, playing with them, interacting with them, going on dates with them, taking them with me places, everything,sharing truths with them, was all designed to build a stairway, a path they could follow and walk right into the arms of God, of genuine faith, of passionate and meaningful discipleship and Christianity.
As the father and leader of our home, I made it our absolute, total commitment to seeing this happen. Kathy and I gave everything we had for this mission and purpose.
Here’s the beautiful, wonderful thing: Because of God’s great grace and wisdom, and purposeful intentionality, it all worked and bore much fruit. Each of my children came to Jesus Christ as their Savior. Each of my children got baptized. Each of my children shared their faith in some way with others. Each of my children used their gifts and abilities to serve others. Each of my children was moral and upright through their teen years, with tender, obedient hearts for Jesus Christ. Each of them walked uprightly in their relationship with their eventual spouses. Each of my children and their spouses is now raising their children to love, obey, and follow Jesus Christ. Each of them is living today, along with their spouses, with Jesus Christ on the throne of their lives.
Fathers, we do not have to keep losing the next generation. We do not have to sit back and watch a catastrophe unfold with our kids, finally grown into teens, rejecting God. We do not have to preside over another child lost to the world!!
Will you step up? Will you lead yourself and your wife into the path of discipleship, and live a life of intentional, passionate, obedience to Jesus Christ yourself? Will you embrace a new way of living? There is no greater purpose in all the world than living your life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, to intentionally make disciples of your own children, who in turn grow up to help their children become faithful, obedient disciples of Jesus Christ as well.
NOTHING IN ALL THE WORLD IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN YOUR CHILDREN’S GENUINE, OBEDIENT FAITH IN GOD! BE GOD’S MAN NOW, BEFORE THE CLOCK RUNS OUT ON YOU.
Please take the time and hear these messages as I believe they will greatly stimulate your faith and your thinking and understanding…