Listen Up Parents and Pastors!

I would highly recommend every parent, children’s and youth leaders, and pastors to read the article “How (Not) to Raise a Pharisee.” I often address this same sentiment to our congregation but a strong biblical reminder like this is always a plus. I’ve heard this particular issue addressed several times in previous Shepherds’ Conferences, but I find it always refreshing every time I hear it.

Teen Sex and Pulpits

If you’ve been listening to national news for the past two days you’re aware that one in four teen girls has sexually transmitted disease (STD) in this country. Did you hear that? One in four!

In addition, according to our local news (which reported as “breaking news”) the South Dakota teen girls have higher percentage of having multiple sex partners than the national average. The “experts” suggest that more condom distributions in schools and peer-to-peer safe sex education as solutions. As I was experiencing aftershock to all these, few initial thoughts were raised:

  • Why are they only focusing on girls? What about the boys?
  • How is it that most people I meet in South Dakota consider themselves Christians, yet have this type of report?
  • What have churches in South Dakota been preaching?
  • Would this effect how churches do ministry out here?

Reports like this reflect more on what’s happening in our homes, parenting, and in our churches. I would say great responsibilities lie with both parents and pastors. First of all, do our family members cultivate biblical worldviews of life? For instance, how are our family members understand God’s view of sex? Do our children fear God? Do our parents fear God? Do family members have biblical understanding of the gospel? Do we live out the gospel? What implications do family members have between the gospel and sex?

Next, I want to challenge our churches, especially, leadership of churches to do some serious self-examinations. Do our parishioners often hear the glorious and transcendent views of God from our pulpits? I mean views of God that are beyond “He’s all about love, he loves you, and he has wonderful plans for you.” Do they hear that God is holy, which means he hates sins and workers of iniquities? Or, do they hear a typical warped theology of today that says “God hates sin but loves sinners”? Do our parishioners understand that God’s judgment is ready against unrepentant ones (Psalm 7:12-13)? Do they hear exhortations and warnings to “Do homage to the Son (literally, kiss the Son in Hebrew), that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled” (Psalm 2:12)? Do they understand the doctrine of repentance? When was the last time (especially, the teens) heard that those who persist to live in sins such as impurity, sensuality, and even illegal drug usage “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21)? Do our parishioners understand that church can and must discipline and remove unrepentant member(s) from fellowship?

When a church has become like the unregenerate world and its culture, she has lost the flavor and it is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot (Matthew 5:12). Although calling churches to wake-up may have a bleak result, I am confident of the following words of Jesus: “You do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:26-27).

Biblical Parenting

Pulpit Magazine recently posted various short articles on biblical parenting. I have compiled them for my readers here:

2007 Desiring God Pastors’ Conference – Part 2

Continuing from the previous recap.

TUESDAY

Less than 5 hours of sleep, my wife and I woke up and joined other men for special breakfast seminar on God-honoring children’s ministry led by David Michael, Pastor for Parenting & Children’s Discipleship at Bethlehem Baptist. Unfortunately, this message is not on the web. However, here are some of the points/principles that he mentioned on how to have a God-honoring children’s ministry in our churches:

  • Children are not the center of the universe (including in the church). Life does not revolved around them. This is the issue between man-centered vs. God-centeredness. We (the church) needs to faithfully teach parents and children that we exist to glorify God, not ourselves.
  • Avoid using the Bible only to teach morals. If so, we’re simply raising up a bunch of moralists and Pharisees.
  • Have the entire family members to bring their Bibles to church. This is a critique on the contemporary churches where more and more the Bible is disappearing or invisible in the hands of people who come to church. Although the Bible verses on the screen can be useful in the worship service (though this can be debatable), but it should never replace the Bible in their hands. The children learn by watching their parents, and the parents must diligently model and teach the importance of bringing the Bible (the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit) to Sunday School and to worship service.
  • Memorize the verse(s) together as a family. This can further be applied within the whole church, which brings a whole new level of accountability within the entire church.
  • Teach theology to children. Never underestimate what the Holy Spirit can do through the Holy Scripture.
  • Raise the standard and expectations for the workers involved in the children’s ministry.
  • Parents involvement in understanding and raising their own children. At Bethlehem, the parents cannot have child-dedication unless they’ve taken the class first.
  • Equipping the parents, not replacing the parents. We must equip the dads for spiritual leadership in their homes.
  • We need to get men involved in the children’s ministry, not just the ladies.
  • Don’t encourage disengagements of kids from the parents and adults (e.g., separate worship service while adults are having theirs, etc). Children should attend the worship service together with their family and with other adults, and not be separated. Although some children (adults included) may not fully understand the pastor’s preaching (due to immaturity and/or unregenerate hearts), there is wisdom in this. And the parents need to understand this, and need patience and their support.

Stay tune for Part 3.