If you want to build an everyday faith in the lives of the next generation, you have to begin to see families in a different way.
This is never more clear than in Deuteronomy 6:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
It was God’s plan to illustrate His unconditional love for His people.
Moses was concerned that God’s story would be forgotten. He wasn’t trying to build better families; he was trying to use the family to highlight God’s character—God’s faithfulness, God’s message, God’s story. Moses was trying to insure that an everyday faith would be a reality in the next generation.
At the core of this text is an underlying principle; there is an implied assumption that should unite every one of us regardless of our denomination or background. This should change the way we see our ministry, the way we see families, and the way we perceive parents.
From Moses’ perspective, one thing was true about every parent:
God desires to work through every parent
to demonstrate His story of restoration and redemption
Tucked away in the ancient message of a patriarch, are the transferrable values that are important for every family—for every parent—regardless of where they are in a spiritual spectrum. These are transferrable values for every generation of family. What Moses gives us here is not a “better picture” approach, but a “bigger story” approach.
As a church leader, you have the potential to give every parent hope. You may be in a better position to influence families than many parenting experts. Assuming that you believe in the importance of family, you have a decision to make about your approach to parents:
- You can decide that most parents will probably never change.
- You can challenge parents to an idealistic and unattainable standard.
- You can choose to believe that most parents, regardless of their baggage, have the desire and capacity to improve.
Whether or not you consciously embrace one of those decisions as a leader, your style of ministry and programming reflects one of those three assumptions.
Your perception of parents’ potential to change can drive how you respond to them.
What would happen if every leader just decided to act like they truly believe . . .
God desires to work through every parent
to demonstrate His story of restoration and redemption.
Reggie Joiner is the founder and CEO of Orange, a non-profit organization whose purpose is to influence those who influence the next generation. Orange provides resources and training for churches and organizations that create environments for parents, kids and teenagers. Prior to Orange, Joiner co-founded North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., with Andy Stanley. During his 11 years as the executive director of family ministry, he developed a new concept for relevant ministry for children, teenagers, and married adults.
Joiner has authored and co-authored books including, Think Orange, The Think Orange Handbook, Zombies, Football, and the Gospel, Seven Practices of Effective Ministry, Parenting Beyond Your Capacity, Lead Small, Creating a Lead Small Culture and It’s Just A Phase.
Joiner and his wife Debbie live in Cumming, Ga., and have four children: Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah. For more information about Reggie Joiner, visit ReggieJoiner.com or follow him on Twitter @ReggieJoiner.