Partnering with Parents

to Raise up Worshippers in the Home

by Pastor Brad Hunter

Verses to Consider

Gen 18:19 "For I [God] have chosen him [Abraham], in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him."

Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you."

Deut. 6:1-9 "Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the LORD your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Proverbs 1:8 "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and do not forsake your mother's teaching; indeed, they are a graceful wreath to your head, and ornaments about your neck. My son..."

Proverbs 2:1 "My son, if you will receive my sayings, and treasure my commandments within you..."

Proverbs 3:1 "My son, do not forget my teaching, But let your heart keep my commandments..."

Proverbs 4:1-4,10, 20 "Hear, O sons, the instruction of a father, and give attention that you may gain understanding, for I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me and said to me, 'Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live...Hear, my son, and accept my sayings, and the years of your life will be many. My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings."

Proverbs 5:1,2 "My son, give attention to my wisdom, incline your ear to my understanding; that you may observe discretion, and your lips may reserve knowledge."

Proverbs 6:1a, 20 "My son...My son, observe the commandment of your father, and do not forsake the teaching of your mother; bind them continually on your heart; tie them around your neck."

Proverbs 7:1-3, 24 "My son, keep my words, and treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments and live, and my teaching as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart... Now therefore, my sons, listen to me, and pay attention to the words of my mouth."

Proverbs 13:1,22,24 "A wise son accepts his father's discipline... A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children...He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently."

Proverbs 17:6 "Grandchildren are the crown of old men, and the glory of sons is their fathers."

Proverbs 19:18 "Discipline your son while there is hope, and do not desire his death."

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it."

Proverbs 23:22-26 "Listen to your father who begot you, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding. The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, and he who begets a wise son will be glad in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, and let her rejoice who gave birth to you. Give me your heart, my son, and let your eyes delight in my ways."

Proverbs 29:17 "Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; he will also delight your soul."

Proverbs 31:27,28 "She [an excellent wife] looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also, and he praises her..."

John 10:11-13 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep."

Eph 6:4 "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."

Col 3:18-21 "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart."

I Tim 3:4 "[An overseer]...must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)"

I Tim 5:8 "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever."

Titus 2:2-8 "Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance. Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips, nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. Likewise urge the young men to be sensible; in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, in order that the opponent may be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us."

Transition toward Family-Based Youth Ministry


Where Much of the Modern Evangelical Church is Now

A Vision for the Future

The view of youth

We tell our 'adolescents' that they will likely go through an awkward and rebellious 'phase' of life, & hopefully they'll grow up later. Children are often seen as being 'in the way' rather than as a blessing from the Lord.

We view them as young adults who need not rebel, but, with the blessing of the Lord and the faithful discipline and instruction of their parents, should grow up serving Him faithfully. (Prov 22:6, I Tim 3:4, Deut.6, Psalm 127:3-5)

How children of believers are ministered to

The Church ministers around the parents to their children; age groups are virtually always segregated in the worship service, Sunday School, Wednesday night activities, Sunday night youth group meetings, retreats, etc.

The Church will minister primarily through the parents to their children. Family activities, such as church campouts, game nights, home-based youth nights, and having families (especially with older children) sit together during worship, will be the rule, though there will be a place for individual youth & children's activities.

How children of unbelievers are ministered to

Youth leaders minister to children of unbelievers, often spending the bulk of their time with such youth to the neglect of children of believing parents.

Christian families spiritually 'adopt' children of unbelievers, teaching them what a Christian home is, what Christian roles are, how to worship & serve God. The church assists, not replaces, Christian families in this area.

Fathers' (Parents') Role

In this view, the role of the father is to provide materially for the family. The spiritual nurture of his children is primarily the job of the church. This view encourages abdication of parental responsibility.

The role of the father is to provide both materially & spiritually for the family. The spiritual nurture of his children is primarily his responsibility, to be assisted (but by no means replaced) by the church.

Training of parents

Fathers & mothers are not trained to train their children up in the Lord, but rather to get out of the way and let the church do it right.

We will invest serious time & energy into training our fathers (parents) how to raise up their children in the Lord.

Youth Program vs. Youth Ministry

Programs are often gimmicky, heavy on games & light on worship, Bible study, prayer, and ministry.

'Fun & games' aren't the enemy, but they shouldn't be the focus. Instead, have a ministry focussed on glorifying God & growing in Christ.


The statistics tell us sadly that the majority of church kids grow up to abandon the faith. No matter how hard we try, when we allow "what brings kids in" to be the measure of all things, we will end up with an empty house.

God's work done God's way will not lack God's supply & God's fruit. Certainly we must be sensitive to the needs of our youth, but we must define needs biblically. We don't evaluate the 'success' of our youth ministry by how many kids are participate in youth activities, but by whether they are glorifying God years down the road.


Practical Steps for Raising

Your Children in the Covenant

1. Pray often and fervently:

°Pray for yourselves first - that God would teach you how to raise your children in the LORD, by being the Christian man or woman you want them to imitate, and by instructing & disciplining them continuously.

°Pray for your spouses next.

°Pray for your children - that they would honor their parents and grow up wise and strong in Christ.

°Pray for St. Andrews leaders, their families, and their ministry.

°Pray for other fathers and mothers of St. Andrews.

°Pray for other children of St. Andrews.

2. Benefit from the teaching and instruction of your leaders:

°Fathers: sign up to meet with Pastor Brad or Pastor TJ for lunch during the week.

°Single Moms/Spiritually 'Single' Moms: sign up to meet with Pastor Brad or Pastor TJ at church during the week.

3. Attend as many intergenerational church activities as possible with your children:

°Approach Sunday morning worship as the highlight of the week. Shepherd your children to that end, as well.

°Attend our bi-monthly Sunday evening Word and Worship Services.

°Come out for Wednesday Night Suppers, Church Family Picnics, Coffee Houses, Game Nights...

°Make this summer's intergenerational Sunday School course, Connections, a regular part of your Lord's Day.

Note: the earlier you introduce your children to inter-generational activities, the more natural it will be for them to relate to all ages of Christians in the Church.

4. Maintain oversight of your children while at St. Andrews:

°Remember that God has entrusted you with your children 168 hours per week.

°View all of St. Andrews youth and children's activities as supporting, not supplanting, the ministry you have toward your children.

°Have your children (especially those who already attend worship service) sit with you in the pew, to teach the value of worshipping as a family (& for the purpose of discipline).

°Have your children eat with you at Wednesday Night Supper.

5. Practice daily family worship:

°Remember, start simple: read a short passage, pray on the theme of the passage, and perhaps sing the doxology or a hymn from Sunday worship.

°Get copies of TJ's recent Sunday School course on "The Care of House Plants."

°Attend this summer's intergenerational Sunday School course, "Connections," which is an example of family devotions.

°For a solid, easy to use devotional guide, pick up a sample copy of "As for my House" on the book table.

6. Engage in the art of Christian hospitality often:

°Invite other families, single adults, the elderly, young married couples over to your home regularly.

°Remember that hospitality is practicing a simple open door with others, not an ostentatiously spread table.

7. Spend time with your children:

°Eat dinner daily at the dinner table. The dinner table is a most natural forum for discussing issues facing your children.

°Guard against things that divide the family, such as having TVs, computers, and telephones in a child's room. Have all of these things in the family room or living room, instead.

Remember: This list is not exhaustive, but only an example of helpful ideas. If it seems overwhelming, great! View it as an opportunity for you to trust God to do in and through you what you are unable to do.

"Over the last century, churches and parachurch youth ministries alike have increasingly (and often unwittingly) held to a single strategy [for reaching children and youth]: ... the isolation of teenagers from the adult world and particularly from their own parents." Mark DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry

"When peers have dialogue primarily with peers, they fail to be exposed to those with more advance insights and more highly developed faculties...Our children, who are constantly engrossed in peer-centered activities, interact minimally with those more mature than themselves." Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen, Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World

 "Our society's youth orientation breeds immaturity. Youth orientation in the church has the same effect. This is seen most plainly in the youth themselves... I have seen at least one evangelical (so called) curriculum that explicitly discourages teachers from introducing concepts like faith and justification to preteens because they haven't yet reached that 'stage.'... [Instead], musicians, comedians, and even evangelistic bodybuilders who break huge ice blocks with their heads for Christ (I'm not making this up) perform city to city before huge crowds of young people." Christopher Schlect, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry

 "Whatever new models for youth ministry we develop must take seriously the fact that teenagers grow toward mature Christian adulthood as they are connected to the total body of Christ, not isolated from it...The church is the only place where teenagers could logically be linked to the world of adults, but for the most part, we have missed the opportunity." Mark DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry

"Successful youth ministry in this era certainly doesn't require bigger and better programs; rather, kids are looking for simplicity and effectiveness." Tim Smith, Youthworker

"We may live in a culture in which bigger has become synonymous with better, but we serve a Lord who spoke of his kingdom in terms of a mustard seed, a widow's mite and a single lost sheep. I love building a crowd. It makes me feel good. It makes me look good. And because of what building a crowd does for me, I have often mistaken short-term success for long-term effectiveness...Parents play a role second only to that of the Holy Spirit in building the spiritual foundation of their children's lives." Mark DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry

"If children do not come face to face with Almighty God in every aspect of their lives, their fathers, through abdication, are bringing them up in practical atheism." Christopher Schlect, Critique of Modern Youth Ministry

"While you wait for your teenagers to grow up, you can take comfort in the fact that by the time young people reach their mid-twenties, their lines are almost always identical to the lines their parents drew. Even those who do not like certain attributes of their parents find themselves following their parents' patterns. So perhaps the point is not how we can get our kids to behave as we want them to, but how can we be the kind of parents we ought to be so that when our kids are like us, we'll like what they are." Jay Kesler, Energizing Your Teenager's Faith

"Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church consecrated to Christ, and wholly influenced and governed by his rule. And family education and order are some of the chief means of grace. If these fail, all other means are likely to prove ineffectual. If these are duly maintained, all the means of grace will be likely to prosper and be successful." Jonathan Edwards

"One of the secrets to a lasting ministry with teenagers is to find ways to undergird nuclear families with the rich support of the extended Christian family of the church and for these two formative families to work together in leading young people toward Christian adulthood." Mark DeVries, Family Based Youth Ministry


Questions for Contemplation

Please use the verses in this booklet as well as the rest of the Bible to help answer the following questions:

° What, biblically, is the role of the parents (in particular, the fathers) in raising up our young people?

 ° What, biblically, is the role of the Church in raising up our young people?

 ° What are we doing/can we do at St. Andrews to encourage parents in their God-ordained roles as primary overseers of their children's souls?

 ° What are we doing that enables our parents to more easily forfeit their God-ordained roles as primary overseers of their children's souls?

 ° What are we doing/can we do to encourage natural multigenerational interaction, so that our youth learn to socialize with and benefit from all the generations in the Church?

 ° What are we doing that prevents multigenerational interaction, so that our youth learn to socialize only with their peers, resulting in shallow social skills, a lack of appreciation for the wisdom of the ages (and also preventing our adults and elderly from the benefit of the idealism and vitality of our youth)?

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