Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Too Important to Outsource

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9
I outsource a lot of things in my life. I don't make any of my own clothes or grow any of my own food. There are plenty of people who are more skilled than me at that, so I stick to what I am good at and pay them for their services. But there are certain things in life that are just too important to outsource. It doesn't matter how good anyone else is at it. It's important that you do it yourself. Here's an example for ya. Dating your wife. It doesn't matter how skilled a "professional dater" might be. It's not something you outsource (Jones p.81-82). Here's another example. Teaching our children about Jesus. It doesn't matter what degree someone else holds or how well they relate to teens or children, at the end of the day making sure that your child understands the truth of the Bible is just too important to outsource. It's just one of those things you need to do yourself.
The Scripture above backs this up. You won't find youth pastors or children's ministers in the Bible anywhere. God's plan for passing the faith down to the next generation is godly parents. Now, I believe that youth and children's pastors have an important role to play in supporting and equipping parents as they minister to their kids, but we are not the primary faith trainers of your children. You are.
The problem is that for the most part we have done a lousy job of helping you minister to your kids. We haven't reminded you that it was your job. We haven't equipped you to do it or offered to help you when you were struggling. For my part, I want to do better. So here's a simply format you can follow to have a family devotional time this week.
How to Have Family Devotionals*
  1. Read the Bible together- Go through a few verses or a chapter. Whatever works for your family. It doesn’t have to be a prepared Bible lesson. God’s Word is powerful! Just read it together and listen to it. (Helpful Hint- Have everyone use the same Bible translation for family devotion time to avoid confusion.)
  2. Talk about it- Ask some questions to help spark a discussion. (Helpful Hint- Pick just a few of these questions that are appropriate for your kids. If they are struggling, help them out.)
    • Who are the main character(s)?
    • What happens in the passage?  Can you summarize it?
    • Any questions? What are you curious about?
    • What happened before or after this passage?
    • Which words, phrases, or themes seem important to you?
    • What did this mean to people back then? What does this mean for us now?
    • Does this remind you of any other passages of Scripture?
    • Are there examples to follow or avoid (things to do or not do)?
    • Is there a promise to celebrate?
    • Is there a sin to avoid?
    • What does it say about God?
    • What does it say about people?
    • What does it say about me?
    • Do I need to confess something to God?
    • Do I need to thank God for something?
    • What do I need to tell someone or do for someone because of this passage?
    • Helpful Hint- Bring in what the Lord has been teaching you as much as possible! It’s important for your kids to see that you are constantly growing closer to the Lord as well. And don’t be afraid to confess your sin (when appropriate) to your children. It will help teach them humility.
  3. Sing together- Not everyone is a musician, but don’t let that stop you.  Music is an amazing learning tool and it has a profound ability to guide us into true worship. Pick a well known song or hymn and sing it a cappella. Use your bad singing as an opportunity to teach your kids that worship is about the heart not the sound. Be sure to create a safe place to worship by letting your family know that making fun of anyone’s singing is not acceptable.
  4. Pray together- Praying at bedtime and meals is great, but don’t let that be the only time you pray together as a family. Take a moment to share prayer requests and go around the table letting each family member pray for the person to their left as best as they are able.
*Developed using adapted elements from Family Ministry Field Guide by Timothy Paul Jones (p167) and in Trained in the Fear of God by Stinson and Jones (chapter 11 written by Peter R. Schemm Jr.) as well as a talk sheet developed by Patrick Hamilton for use in the study of John.
Jones, Timothy Paul. Family Ministry Field Guide. (Wesleyan Publishing House: Indianapolis, 2011) p. 81-82.
For further study this week...
  • Lead your family in a devotional time on Genesis 1.


Ryan Roach said...

"I believe that youth and children's pastors have an important role to play in supporting and equipping parents as they minister to their kids, but we are not the primary faith trainers of your children. You are."

So true! Great piece!

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your heart here. Parents are so important to their children's spiritual developement. Thanks for posting the list of questions. I'm saving them to use in our family devotions.

God Bless!