You, Your Child, and Your Church

By Sue Gibbons

During my senior year in high school I became involved in my church’s jail ministry. Our group made weekly visits to the county jail where we witnessed of Christ’s love to the inmates.

One Sunday afternoon Ted,(not his real name) a teenager about my age, was among the prisoners. He had been arrested for armed robbery.

While we sang, Ted lay on his hard, narrow cot with his back toward us. But as our team members began to testify, he turned toward us, his eyes riveted on each person who spoke.

It seemed that perhaps the Holy Spirit was dealing with him. However, when a team member invited him to make a decision for Christ, he exploded: “Don’t talk to me about being a Christian! All you Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites!

“My parents call themselves Christians, but they’ve never said a decent thing about anyone in the church, including every Sunday school teacher I ever had. And the preacher couldn’t please them either. We kids heard so much bad stuff about people in the church, we got fed up with all the phonies. I’m fed up with Christians, period!”

Unfortunately Ted’s story is not unusual. Many have either been completely turned against God and the church, or they limp along in their Christian lives crippled by the poor example and bad attitude of their parents.

Most Christian parents put forth a great deal of effort to provide for the material needs of their children. But those same parents may be carelessly indifferent to their responsibility relative to their children’s relationship with God and with those in the family of God.

I have often heard parents berate the church, the pastor, or a Christian worker for their children’s spiritual delinquency. The “church” is often accused of having failed, as though the person speaking has no connection whatsoever with the church.

We – all of us who profess to know Christ – are the church. Before censuring the church for our children’s lack of interest, we need to search our own lives.

Careless, carnal parents need to repent of the negative examples they have set for their children. They need God’s forgiveness, and they need the forgiveness of their own children.

Just as some parents abuse their children physically or emotionally, some abuse their children spiritually. Ted’s parents were spiritual abusers.

Victims must stop perpetuating the sort of abuse they have received. By the power of the Holy Spirit even victims of spiritual abuse can begin now to become positive examples.

Understanding God’s plan for us as parents encourages us to set these practical goals so we can become godly examples for our own children:

1. Set an example of personal commitment. Determine you will be faithful to your calling as a follower of Jesus Christ, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14, NKJV).

2. Set an example of prayer. Pray regularly with your child in family devotions. Let your child hear you pray with compassion and love for your church, your church leaders, and your fellow Christians. Especially pray for God’s blessing on the people who minister to your child in your church.

3. Set an example of obedience to God. Enjoy His Word, not only as you read and study it, but as it is preached and taught.

4. Set an example of giving. Make systematic giving of tithes and offerings a joyful expression of your love for God rather than giving grudgingly.

5. Set an example of acceptance of others. By your attitude toward your family, your church, your job, your neighbors, your government, and your business associates, show your tolerance of human foibles, A critical spirit on the part of a parent can be an insurmountable stumbling block; to a child.

6. Set an example of integrity in your relationship with God and man. Practice honesty. Be straight forward, not manipulative. “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21, NIV).

7. Set an example of church conduct. Assume the authority over your child that God has given you. You must not only set an example your child can safely follow, but you will also need to insist on, and take the responsibility for, appropriate church conduct on the part of your child.

8. Set an example of service. There is something you can do for God. “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17, NKJV).

9. Set an example of cooperation. Work with your pastor, church leaders, and fellow Christians.

We Christian parents have a resource to help us become godly examples for our own children. Consider the apostle Paul’s testimony in Philippians 4:13 (NKJV): “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” God is eager to help you live a consistent Christian life, proving by your example that serving Him is the only way to go.

(The above information was published by the PENTECOSTAL EVANGEL, February 1990)

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