Hear O Israel: The LORD our God the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children… (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
God set the parenting agenda for ancient Israel. This was the playbook that Mary and Joseph used in raising Jesus. Families in ancient times were not on their own but they were immersed in a community of shared practice. They had the power of a whole village of families all seeking to fulfill the same parenting purpose. What a leverage this was to influence the values of children in places like Nazareth.
Today it’s different. Life is fast and families often don’t know their neighbors except in passing. Families work alone, isolated in a sea of activities from school to work. Church attendance in for US families works out to about 40 times a year. Compare this to the nearly 400 hours a year that the average American kid spends gaming.
Yet despite all this, children continue to report in surveys that the greatest influence in their life is their parents. Indeed, studies show that even factoring in sleep and school, parents still have upwards of 3000 hours per year of unstructured time with their kids. Wow! We have greater opportunity to shape the values of our children than we thought!
Today much of parenting is taken up in doing FOR our children. We chauffeur them about, sign them up and resource them with the proper equipment. Often times this includes church. It fits into life as another item on the list of things we do for our kids.
What if we made it personal? What if God and spiritual life became something we parents do for ourselves, something we invite our children to see and tag along with? What if in a quiet moment in the house your take your Bible and read it for a half-hour and meditate quietly on it? What if we took the time to do the things that feed our faith and grow our souls? Retreats. Classes.
Prayer. Fasting. Worship. Community service. How much greater influence would we have by having our kids actually see and experience us growing and maturing in the love of God and neighbor? We can parent way beyond our capacity by making it personal—making faith something we do for ourselves.
This is where the church comes in. In January we start a church-wide campaign, The Story. It’s a 31 week exploration of the entire Biblical story from Creation to Revelation. Children, youth and adults will be reading and hearing the same material each week. Special Bible story books will be available for parents to read to their children as well as “The Story” for adults and teens. What a fantastic opportunity for your whole family to share a spiritual journey together. What you do in your home will be reinforced each Sunday in church. Books and sign-ups for adult classes will be available in November. I’m praying you’ll make it personal in your home and parent way beyond your capacity.