I had the bright idea to post a training article I wrote for my compadres in http://www.glocal.net and our church planting curriculum that we use to train church planters. That article is called “Parenting While Planting”. Now, I know most of you are not church planters, but the advice is still sound for anyone. If you are not a church planter, then just remove the “pastor” “planter” thing and insert your job title.
Here it is:
Parenting While Planting
It should probably go without saying that you have read your bible, and you have a grasp on what the bible teaches about dads, moms, children, and family. It should probably go without saying that you believe the bible to be the “manual” on doing things in the way of God’s kingdom.
Having said that, what follows is not an exposition of what you know to be true. What follows are some practices that have helped in parenting while planting and pastoring a church.
- Make home a priority 1 Timothy 3:4
Greg Cater was my mentor in doing church work. Greg taught me more about parenting and being a husband than church work and those life on life lessons have been more valuable than gold.
Once, Greg was being criticized for not attending some “Promise Keepers” meetings, and when asked why he didn’t come to those gatherings his reply was solid gold: “I’m at home keeping my promise.”
This makes your children know you value them.
- Be present in your children’s lives
Show your children you value them by being at the things they care about. Don’t sacrifice your child for a dumb meeting. There will be things you miss. All parents do. But make that the exception not the rule. Make the rule be that you are present.
It’s hard work, so you bear the brunt of it. Don’t make your children bear that load.
- Expect your children to sin and don’t overreact when they do
Parenting is training your children for the future. Part of training is failing. Without failure one can’t adequately learn how to grow.
Our children, as we, will sin. When they do, act like you expected it. Show them the what, the why, the consequences and how to move forward into doing right. Overreacting can cause them to do things again just to get the reaction.
- Let your children be children
Don’t keep your children crushed under the expectation that they are to be perfectly neat, quiet and stand by your side like a servant.
Don’t let them run wild either. They need to learn to treat others the way others need to be treated. They need to operate with the right respect toward all as part of the community and the family.
But let them play and enjoy their buddies in the life of the church. Church should be fun. My boys and our worship leader’s daughters started the KPF (kids police force) in which the mysteries of the building are investigated, solved and people liberated. They have ID badges and secret drops all over the building. They have brought others into this secret unit. It needs some outside mediation now and again, but they have some good fun.
- Don’t be stereotypical as a pastor/ministry person/planter. Be who you are.
Don’t let the vibe roll off of you that you are holier, higher, impeccably dressed and unstained. This helps your kids relate to you as normal with their friend’s parents.
- Expect to mess up, admit it, ask for forgiveness and repent
I used to disciple one of my professor’s sons a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. As a mentor to this young man I attended many of his events. At his senior night football game, when they introduced his parents, this offensive lineman who was going to play football at the University of Tennessee bent over and kissed his dad right on the cheek as a genuine display of affection for his dad. That blew me away. This man’s daughter was the same way.
I later asked the dad, my former professor, how it was that they had such a good relationship with their high school children. His words have been a mantra for me: “We mess up a lot, but we are quick to admit it, as for forgiveness and repent.” I’ll take that.
- Involve your children in the global adventure of God’s kingdom
We began saving for our children’s first global engagement trip when they were born. That is a pattern we set for the parents of children in our church. The church invests $50 in the life of the child asking parents to add to it at key times so that when the child is ready they can go to the hard places with the good news of the kingdom and that trip is paid for.
Our boys have been saving to that end as well because they are captivated with the idea that they can go somewhere really hard and do kingdom work and make a difference. This causes them to live beyond themselves for something greater and causes them to want to join you in the work.
It really is the greatest adventure; so make sure you make it possible for them to join you.
- Help your children discover their passions/gifting and help them see how that gifting fits with glocal engagement
The wisdom of training up a child in the way they should go is more about training them for their vocational calling than about their moral decisions. Vocations are God’s design for engaging domains. Join them in the adventure of discovering their globally created purpose.
The Lord knit our children together and he made them domain engagers. We must help them discover their Psalm 37:4 desires and help them move in that direction with the end of engaging that domain glocally.
If they are a welder, don’t try to make them a literature major. If they are a musician don’t try to make them a mechanic. Get it? Don’t live vicariously through your child.
- Introduce your children to Narnia
C.S. Lewis wrote these stories for children to help lift their vision to help disciple children into knowing God. There is so much of Jack’s life as a child bound up in these stories and how he learned Christ.
Engage their imagination so they might live for real eternal ends and know their great creator, Jesus Christ, in the process.
Don’t le them get captivated with mud pies in a slum because they can’t imagine a vacation at the ocean. – C.S. Lewis
Watch this amazing unpacking of the Chronicles then read them. I’m a Narnia addict. I have learned and am still learning how to follow Jesus through these little books and so are my boys.
Related Scripture Passages:
Psalm 127:3-5; Psalm 139:13-16
Proverbs 1:8-9; Proverbs 13:24; Proverbs 19:18; Proverbs 22:6; Proverbs 22:15; Proverbs 23:13-14
Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 6:1-3, 4
Joiner, Reggie, and Carey Nieuwhof. Parenting beyond Your Capacity: Connect Your Family to a Wider Community. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.
Stinson, Randy, and Timothy P. Jones. Trained in the Fear of God: Family Ministry in Theological, Historical, and Practical Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2011.