God has given children two institutions to shepherd their hearts, their home and their church. Understanding this truth has revolutionized how I parent my kids as well as understand my role as a pastor.
Many parents struggle living in the balance of the poles of church and home. Some parents rightly understand that they have the primary responsibility of raising up their children in the faith, but go so far as to believe they are their only shepherds. Some parents rightly try to get their children involved in church, but struggle with their role and responsibilities at home. Some of these parents can go so far as think that they don’t have much responsibility in fostering their children’s spiritual lives thinking it is the church’s job. A better understanding of the relationship between the home and church is needed.
Parents are to raise up their children in the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 says that fathers are to bring their children up in the “discipline and instruction of the Lord.” I would argue that God desires for parents, not the church, to be the primary shepherds of their children. But, pastors have the solemn and intimidating task of keeping watch over the souls in their church (Hebrews 13:17). These souls include the souls of the children in their church. I would argue that even though parents should be the primary shepherds of their children’s souls, they are not the exclusive shepherds.
Redeemer Church is striving to live within this balance. We are making our ministry to children a priority. The pastors of this church are heavily invested in the ministry to children. We are creating safe and fun environments for our kids, but we aren’t satisfied with just good childcare. We are working diligently to foster their faith through gospel-centered biblical lessons. We went so far as to bring in Josh Yen as our Associate Pastor largely based upon his successful experience ministering to children. We are also working to provide resources to help parents shepherd their kiddos. Finally, the pastors are striving to create a culture in our church where we encourage men to shepherd the hearts of their children.
All of these efforts drive toward our goal of seeing moms and dads pastor the little guys that God has brought into their lives. We know that the biggest influencers and heroes in the lives of your kids are you! Kids will model what their parents do not just want they say. Studies show that kid’s perception of their heavenly Father is largely based upon their experience with their earthly father. We know we will never be perfect, but will led our parents to shepherd the hearts of their kids as well as own our responsibility of being a church that ministers the gospel to children.