Eight years ago I began an incredible journey at Berean. I had been serving as a Middle School Pastor for eleven years when I began to feel a pull toward something else. I knew that I had a heart for the local church as a whole, not just students. If you were to ask me then what I was most passionate about, I would have told you that it was to see a church adopt a family-equipping model of ministry as they sought to evangelize and disciple the younger generation. God aligned my passion with the same desire as Berean back in 2014.
Berean's ministry model equips parents and the church as partners in their child's faith journey.
What a journey it has been! Berean already had a long history of investing in kids and students but now had a desire to do it with a bit of a different focus. I have had the privilege of creating and developing this new model that resources, trains, equips, and encourages parents in their role as the chief evangelist and disciple-maker of their children with the church serving as a strong partner and important second voice in the life of a child.
We want to see kids come to know and love Jesus and develop a firmly-rooted, authentic, and resilient faith that carries them into adulthood.
There is a lot packed into these two statements. Let's break them down a bit.
Scripture teaches about the role of the home in a child's faith journey.
Over the past eight years, we have pointed frequently to Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
"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, 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. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
As Moses speaks to the Israelites prior to his death and their time entering the Promised Land, he reminds them of what is most important: for them to love God with all that they have and all that they are and to teach their children about God, his ways, and his promises. They are to do this through both intentional times and through the everyday moments of life. It was critically important that each generation that was to come would know, love, and follow God.
Parents, you have been placed in a critically important role.
What we learn from the passage above is the primary purpose of the family!
Your greatest mission field is your home. For the message of the gospel to continue to go forth, it must be passed down to future generations.
And Scripture tells us that it isn't the professionals that are to teach this to them; it is their parents. At Berean, we have worked hard to challenge parents to do this, as well as partner with them to equip them in this God-ordained role. We have worked (and continue to work) to provide resources, training, equipping, and encouragement to parents. Our world is ever-changing and being a parent is not an easy or light task. As a church, we want to help lift up parents in a way that will help them succeed in discipling their children.
We have been beating the drum loudly about this partnership between the church and the home. Church culture shifted in the twentieth century toward churches hiring age-specific professionals. It has led parents to think that all they need to do is place their children under the care of these professionals for the sake of evangelism and discipleship. But this isn't the biblical model! Parents are to take the lead; however, the church does play an incredibly important role.
The Church must also come alongside you as parents.
The local body of believers is to wrap their arms around families, little ones, teenagers, and young adults. They are to exemplify what it looks like to live a life of faith. They are to use their voice as one that teaches and backs up what parents are already teaching. They are to help provide encouragement, respite, advice, and even exhortation and admonition. As a church, we are another kind of family that has incredible value. We must partner together to have a greater impact on the lives of the younger generation. They need examples, additional voices, extra support and care, and a community of people who will help to guide, direct, and lift them up.
Why do we do this? So that as Psalm 78:7 says, "they should set their hope in God and not forget the words of God, but keep his commandments." What does our world need more than anything? It needs people who know and love Jesus, who have a strong, firmly-rooted authentic faith that is resilient and can withstand the storms of brokenness, so that they can bless the world with the message of hope that comes through faith in Jesus.
If we don't put incredible energy into the younger generation, what will come of the Church, the bride of Christ? What will come of our effectiveness of gospel ministry in this world?
I am incredibly grateful for what God has done and will continue to do at Berean.
As I wrap up my time at Berean, I am incredibly blessed to see the strides that have been made in our discipleship of the younger generation. Is there more work to be done? Absolutely! (And we have an incredible team to help lead this charge!) But I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this journey, to partner with parents and church members, and to serve alongside some incredible people who share the same passion.
The future is bright for Berean. If we continue to fight for the hearts of kids and youth, the future of the gospel message in the Twin Cities and beyond will be bright as well. My hope and prayer is that Berean will always continue to push forward and will increasingly seek to pour into the younger generation. There is work to be done! May God always bless and provide for this local body of believers. It is an incredibly special group of people.