Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Decisions or Disciples?

Most of us who have been involved in children's ministry for any length of time have heard of the 4/14 window. That is, in the USA, 85% of people who make a decision for Jesus Christ, do so between the ages of 4 and 14.

The reasons for this are obvious. Jesus said that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it at all (see Mark 10:13-16). Little children are able to accept the truths of God's Word in a way that their more cynical, "grown-up" counterparts cannot.

Oh, the blessedness of being able to teach a little child about the Word of God, and about our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ!

However, as I have been pondering the 4/14 window recently, I was made aware of a bleak juxtaposition that ought make us rethink how we do children's ministry:

If 85% of people who make decisions for Jesus Christ do so between the ages of 4 and 14...


...and...


If somewhere between 75-88% of children identified as Evangelical Christians abandon their faith by the end of their freshman year in college...


...then...


Many...possibly the vast majority...of those "decisions" that were made by children in the 4/14 window, were not decisions at all...


...and...


We have a lousy track record as American Christians in discipling our children!


Ask any Sunday School teacher or children's ministry director how easy it is to get a group of Kindergarteners to raise their hands and pray a prayer to ask "Jesus into their heart".

It's simple.


Smile a lot...talk about how much Jesus loves them...talk about heaven.

They'll raise their hands.

But, are they reached? 

Probably not.


Why not? Because they do not understand the Gospel.


-They do not understand that God is Holy and Righteous and cannot tolerate sin in His presence.


-They do not understand that they are hopeless sinners, in desperate need of a Savior.

-They do not understand that Jesus Christ, who is God Incarnate, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, lived a perfect, sinless life, died on the cross to pay the penalty for sin, and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures.

-They do not know that Jesus Christ is the only way to God, and that it is only by putting their faith and trust in Him exclusively for salvation that they can be rescued from the eternal punishment for their sin.

For too many churches, children's ministry has become about getting as many children as possible to pray a prayer of "magic words". Forget whether or not they understand what they just said.

Similar things could be said about churches whose practical, applied theology teaches parents that infant baptism is what saves a child. If they abandon their faith as teenagers, we have a false-peace that, because they were baptized, they are "okay".

This is born out by the fact that research from the Nehemiah Institute shows that less than 10% of churched teens have a biblical worldview. This does not just apply to so-called "moral" issues, but also to the basic tenets of the Christian faith, and whether or not there is such thing as absolute truth at all.

We must face a harsh reality--when our young people reject biblical Christianity after having made some sort of profession of faith, their "decision for Christ" was no real decision at all.


They went out from us, but they were not really of us;
for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us;
but they went out, so that it might be shown that they all are not of us.
I John 2:19 NASB


A Radically Different Approach


Now, before you dismiss me as anti-child evangelism, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.

I am fanatical about child evangelism. This is one of the biggest reasons that I homeschool my children. I want to make sure that I am teaching my children the truths of God's Word all day, everyday, in every area of our lives. I want to live and breathe Deuteronomy 6 with my children.

My point is that our current approach to child evangelism is not working, and for many young people it is leading to a false-assurance of salvation.

Sunday School is not enough. AWANA is not enough. Youth Group is not enough. Christian Camping is not enough. We must be discipling our children in our homes.


What about spiritual orphans...kids who don't have Christian parents?

...we should be discipling them in our homes, too. (More about this in a future post).


Many of us believe we must do this, but most of us don't. Recent research from the Barna Institute shows that, of the few Christian parents who actually talk about their faith with their children in their homes, most devote less than 30 minutes per week to the practice. Ouch.

Contrast this with the 14,000 hours that 96% of kids from Christian homes spend in the public schools, being indoctrinated into secular humanism, and it is no wonder we have a problem on our hands.


The answer to me is obvious. We as Christians must take responsibility for the spiritual formation of our children. We cannot abdicate our responsibility to the Sunday School teacher or Youth Pastor. It's our job.


It also means, again, that we must provide for our children a Christian Education. Ideally, at home, but if that is not possible, at a quality Christian school.

Yes, it will mean a radical change in lifestyle for many of us.

Yes, it will mean thinking differently then we ever have before, and questioning assumptions we have made about church and family life, making sure that they line up with Scripture.

Yes, it will cost us time and money.

Yes, some people will think we are crazy.

But...

...we afford what we care about,

...we prioritize what is important to us,

...we sacrifice for what matters,

As for me and my house, the thing we want most for our children is that they become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ, and that they dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Thursday, January 14, 2010

In the Blink of an Eye




My husband's brother, Nate, got married last weekend.


Doesn't my hubby look handsome?

Our daughter was the flower girl:


Our youngest was a ham:


Our oldest did his best to behave himself, amidst all that formal wear:

Now, I've been to plenty of weddings in my life, but this one really hit me in a unique way.

You see, Nate is Chris's baby brother. They are 12 years apart. 

When Chris and I first met in high school, Nate was 4. I remember him as the little kid who would come into the McDonald's that I worked at, and stand on his tippy-toes to peep at me over the counter. He and his dad would have breakfast there on Saturday mornings, and I made his day by allowing him to get his own apple juice out of the fridge.

That was 18 years ago.

10 years ago this January, I married Christopher, his big brother--my best friend since those high school days. Nate was 12 then, and despite being the youngest groomsman, he took his responsibilities seriously and looked awfully sweet in that tuxedo.

Now, I don't feel as though I've aged that much in the past ten years, but Nate has sure grown up. He went from 8th grader to married man in a nanosecond!

How did that happen? Where did the time go?

Then, it occurred to me:

10 years from now, that too-smart-for-his-own-good boy of mine, making faces at the camera, will be...(gulp!)...

15 years old.

We will be teaching him geometry. We will be teaching him to drive. We will be teaching him how to treat young ladies with respect.

That little baby princess in the flower girl dress will be 13!

When I think about the girl I was at that age, the thought both excites me and scares me to death!

LORD, help us!

And that toddler in the suit--that little bundle of energy and muscle, passion and will--he will be 11!

We'd better earn his heart and respect now, because by then, he'll probably be able to take us down if he has a mind to!

Friends, maybe we've heard it a million times, but the time we have with our children is very short. We need to make the most of the time, because we live in an evil, fallen world (Ephesians 5:16), and we don't get a second chance to raise them right.

They grow up way too fast.

Some days...okay, many days...I am exhausted. 

Training a son, bringing up a daughter, and keeping up with a toddler is draining.

And rewarding.

More than I can handle.

And what I absolutely must do.

Father, give me Your grace and Your strength to be a godly wife and mother. Help me to raise my little ones in a way that honors and glorifies You. I cannot do it on my own.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit" says the LORD of Hosts.
Zechariah 4:6

Friday, January 8, 2010

For the Sake of Your Tradition

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” 

And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?  

“For God said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER,’ and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH.’  

“But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition.  

“You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: 



 ‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’” 

Matthew 15:1-9 NASB

I had the opportunity this week to listen to an intriguing podcast from Scott Brown of the National Center for Family Integrated Churches. You can download and listen here:


Prepare to have your thinking challenged with this one. I have come no where close to wrapping my mind around all of these things yet, but God is definitely working on me!

Although this podcast is not really about homeschooling, it has some correlating implications.

I have found that many people consider the public education system as a sacred cow of sorts--something that one cannot criticize, cannot judge, cannot call into question. 

Advocating that Christians remove their children from the public school system makes one naive or intolerant at best. I've been called offensive, judgmental, legalistic, and uncompassionate.

Why?

Why is it not okay for the government to pay for and be in control of our health care, but it is okay for them to pay for and be in control of our children's education?

Why do we consider sending our little ones to public schools to be somehow evangelistic, when the statistics clearly show that the world is "evangelizing" our kids--not the other way around? 

Don't believe me? 75-88% of evangelical teenagers "graduate from God" when they graduate from high school. They walk away from their faith by the end of their freshman year of college. Somewhere between 85-90% of Christian parents send their kids to public schools. I do not think this is coincidental.

Incidentally, why do Christians seem to be more concerned about their children's socialization than they are about their children's knowledge of God and His Holy Scriptures?

Why do we blatantly ignore the commands of Scripture to give our children a Christian education, and to not sit them at the feet of false teachers?

I think the reason is simple...

We are attached at the hip to the public school system.

It has become part of who we are, how we live our lives, and how we define our families.

It would be easier for some of us to cut off a part of our bodies than it would be to remove our children from the government schools.

We have all sorts of ways to justify it, but the fact remains--

We don't want to change... 

We are comfortable where we are sitting...

                                 We like our traditions. 

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About Me

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I'm a Stay-at-Home, Christian, "crunchy" mama. I have been blessed with the calling to be a godly wife and mother. I am passionate about bringing up my children in the discipline and instruction of the LORD, through home education and discipleship. Helpmeet to my best friend and soulmate, Christopher since 1/29/2000, and mama to four little blessings, including a tiny, precious, newborn baby girl.

My Writing Elsewhere...

Fixing Your Heart on Titus 2

Did you pray for your
husband today?
Monday--His Work
Tuesday--His Integrity
Wednesday--His Mind
Thursday--His Purpose
Friday--His Health
Saturday--His Protection
Sunday--His Faith

Carnival of Homeschooling

Carnival of Homeschooling
Features God Made, Home Grown

Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival

2009 Nominee!

2010 Nominee!

My Wired Style

My Wired Style
Success is not learned. It is discovered and nurtured. What was your child born to do?

Our Curriculum 2010-2011

Bible--Child's Story Bible by Catherine Vos, Apologia Biblical World View Book 1, "Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?"
Catechism-- "Training Hearts, Teaching Minds" by Starr Meade
Phonics--Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
(Kindergarten), Year 1 Booklist (1st Grade)
Handwriting--Bible Copywork, made using Educational Fontware
Spelling-- All About Spelling Level 1 (1st grade)
Math--Math-U-See Primer (Kindergarten) , Math-U-See Alpha (1st grade)
World History--Simply Charlotte Mason's Genesis Through Deuteronomy and Ancient Egypt
American History--The Light and The Glory For Children Series
Art--Interest-led projects and handicrafts
Geography and Missions-- "Hero Tales" by Dave and Neta Jackson, as well as various other missionary biographies, incorporating globe and map study
*We will be studying music and phy-ed., participating in a writing club and nature club, as well as attending various field trips, with our church's homeschool group.*

Disciple Like Jesus

Disciple Like Jesus

Raising Homemakers

Raising Homemakers

Quiverfull Family

The Modest Mom

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