But daddy, you don’t understand!! People don’t do that anymore, that’s old fashion!! Sound familiar. What is happening?? It seems odd to think of parenting as a strategic ministry objective from God. What? Yes, you don’t have to go to a different part of the world to be a missionary. Parents and grandparents are statistically the most lasting influence on faith, which means our children need to hear the Good News from us on a regular basis. “……we go to church regularly. What more am I suppose to do.” The parent is the child’s first and most important teacher. If you don’t raise your children the culture will. It is an ongoing process and not a one day a week task.
According to a recent Barna Report on spiritual conversations in a digital age, children who grow up regularly talking about faith and seeing their parents integrate faith into everyday life are much more likely to continue being actively engaged in their faith as they grow older. In other words, parents who are eager to talk with their children about spiritual matters raise children who are likewise eager. While we often think of sharing faith as something we do with strangers or non-christian friends, some of the most significant and impactful conversations happen in the familiar context of home.
As of this writing I have spent the past week at “Grandparents Camp”(my definition). Five of our grandchildren, ages 3-12, spent the week with us. Early on I challenged anyone to go for a walk with granddaddy and I would treat them to breakfast at the college cafeteria. The walk is approximately two miles and I leave the house promptly at 6:30 a.m. Not expecting any “takers” I was delightfully surprise on the first morning when three eager grandchildren were dressed and ready to go at the designated time. Luke, age four, motor runs on ‘go’ all the time. He basically had to run the entire route due to the shortness of his legs. After making a short stop at the fitness center we headed for the cafeteria and breakfast. The cafeteria was fairly busy with students attending the various summer programs. Our table was surrounded with young adults and seminarians returning to the seminary for continuing education. As we were seated Luke asked if he could say “Our Father.” With my delightful blessing, Luke bowed his head with hands folded under his chin and began singing. “God, Our Father, God, Our Father, once again, once again, we bow our heads and thank you ,we bow our heads and thank you. Amen” The second day I joined with Luke and sang the prayer. The third day all the grandchildren joined with Luke in singing. As I turned to observe the people surrounding our table, many had stopped eating and in reverence waited until Luke finished.
On our way out of the Cafeteria a gentleman came over to me and made inquiry, “Are you a Priest?” My reply was, “No, I am a grandparent.”
In my early years, conversations about creation and righteous living were discussed in the context of God. The law of nature was a common thought and topic of discussion. As the father of three sons and nine grandchildren, with another on the way, I am increasingly aware of rising secularism, and our view of everyday activities is cast outward. It is ‘out there.’ However, we must cast our view inward toward our own homes, understanding that discipleship begins right here, in mundane routines and familiar spaces. Which means each day, parents function as ministers and missionaries disciplining those to whom Christ has called us……our children.