Today, we are celebrating the family. Mothers and Children. We are celebrating that bond between mother and child and celebrating those mothers who have raised well their children. Summer is typically the time we celebrate families. Whether it’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or summer vacation, summer is the time for family. We are also looking forward to another fantastic Vacation Bible School with the children of our community. Our VBS is an excellent opportunity to teach our children Bible stories, and to apply the teachings of the Bible to our lives.
Teaching our children is a great opportunity and responsibility of our church. But I think an equally important role for our church in building healthy families lies in our relationships with Mothers. Today, I want to talk about how we can grow in health as we love, support, and encourage our children and their mothers:
Raising Godly Children, the Awesome Responsibility of All of Us
Healthy Churches Love their Children
I wasn’t always as outspoken and confident as I am now. I remember growing up that I was incredibly awkward. Don’t get me wrong, I was always a bit of a ham, but when it came to social situations, I always felt a bit out of place. That’s one thing that lead me to my home church, Leesburg Baptist Church. We moved to the Leesburg community in the 5th Grade. For the previous three years I had been in Pearl and was happy. I had friends, I had a school I loved, but when we moved to Pisgah High School, I was a fish out of water. These kids had all gone to school with each other over the past six years, I was the new kid. Their parents knew each other, in many cases their grandparents all new each other.
In the 6th grade I began attending church with my friend at Leesburg, and you know what sealed the deal with me going there? It was when I met my new youth minister. Up to that point I was sporadic, but in the 6th grade, Leesburg hired Jeff Jones to be our Youth and Music minister. Jeff was young, exciting, and most importantly from the first time he met me he knew my name. That was big. Oh, the other leaders knew who I was, but Jeff seemed to know and want to know me. He cared about me. For the first time since we moved to Leesburg, I wasn’t just another face in the crowd, I was wanted, I was cared for, I was known.
One of the greatest things we can do as a church for the children in our church is to know them. To ask them about their schools, sports, or hobbies. All of these things that we consider “small talk” are ways to enter their world and express love and concern. Through this small talk, relationships of trust develop that can be vital as the child grows older and needs other people to talk to besides just mom and dad.
Jesus was our example in this as he told his disciples in to “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Let us show our children how much we care.
Healthy Churches Befriend the parents of their Children
Healthy Churches befriend the parents of their children. Not only is it important that you know the children in our church, but equally important is the time you spend loving their parents. Today is Mother’s Day, for most of you, your children are grown, your time of diapers and bottles, time outs and sticking kids in the corner are over. Sure you may be active in your grandchildren’s lives, but for the most part, you have run that race.
But Paul seemed to think that the responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of children and parents didn’t end in the 40‘s and actually didn’t end with your kids.
Adults, when was the last time you sat down with a young father to help him learn how to share the gospel in his home. I know from talking to some of you that your greatest regret is the lack of time you spent teaching your kids about God. Well, tell this younger generation that. Guide them. If you don’t know how, buy a book and learn. They need you!
These mothers need you older ladies to help them cope with parenting; to give them instruction on how to raise their children and a shoulder to cry on when they have failed. As is often the case, we seem to be quick to point out the failings of these young parents, but slow and unconcerned in the supporting and loving and guiding. It’s a shame when churches have more women and men willing to talk about todays parents than are willing to lovingly serve them and guide them.
Healthy Churches Pray for their Children and their Mothers
Every day our children leave their homes and enter a battlefield for their souls. Every day they are surrounded by secularism, paganism, sensuality, humanism and all sort of unbiblical thought processes and points of view. Church, we should be actively and daily praying for the children in this church and teaching them to pray too.
Mark Bates notes: “We will not win this battle through better programs or better parenting techniques. God must work in the hearts of our children. So, we must pray for them, even as the apostle Paul prays for the church, that God may give them “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” ().”
We should constantly be interceding for the children of Antioch Baptist Church. They are surrounded by pressures, and they need our prayers.
But not only that, we should pray for their mothers. I don’t know how many of you remember this, but I can tell you from the experience of being a husband that there is so much pressure for mothers. Mothers often feel the weight of the world on their shoulders. They feel the pressure to raise good kids who have good manners and who are polite and respectful. They feel the pressure of raising godly kids who love the Lord. Just this past week I was talking to a young mother who was telling me of her own struggles to raise her kids in Christ. These young mothers need your prayers. For some of you, you may be raising your grandkids. You thought your time of raising kids was over, but now you have a young teenage living with you again.
Let me say this, I praise God for you mothers who raised godly children. No I pray you will join me praying for those moms who are in the trenches of parenthood!
Healthy Churches Support their Children
Church, we should be champions of our children’s ministry. We should be absolute in our commitment to our children’s ministry and hold it and our leaders to a high standard. When we fail to lead our children into godliness, when we fail to support our children, then we fail to be obedient and to love God. Now I know that sounds strong. But isn’t it interesting that God’s first commandment to the people in following the commandment to love God was that we should teach our children!
Or children are the future of this church. I think we are seeing the effects of years of neglect and apathy towards our children’s and youth ministries in our churches. We have worked hard to build enjoyable activities so that our children would not complain too much, we have sought to make our children’s ministry enjoyable, and fun. We have spent thousands seeking to compete with other ministries to have the newest gadgets. We have sought to compete with the entertainment of the world. But in the end what we have created is three generations of children that have run from the church and headlong into the world because we have told them that what’s important is going where you can have the most entertainment and fun and when the church is competing with the world for entertainment value and fun we will always fail.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think church should be a dull and boring thing. It should be exciting, but it should be exciting because the subject we seek to instill in our children is exciting. We are seeking to instill in our children an awe and wonder and passion for the greatest, most glorious, most powerful, and exciting being in all the universe.
Adults, if you cannot get behind the teaching of our children to love and grow in Christ then you have no one to blame for the exodus of our children but yourselves. In most of the churches I’ve ever lead the children have received the scraps from the table. In many churches we spend more money to place flowers on the pulpit then we do to place the word of God in the hearts of our children.
What shame we should have to bring before God a finely decorated sanctuary at the expense of the very souls of our children. At Antioch Baptist Church, we need leadership for our children and youth ministries. We have a great group of volunteers who love the Lord and love these kids, but they are begging us to help them with our time, our talents and our treasures!