great article about “2 lies that keep families from being missional” from the Verge Network

from STEW with the VERGE NETWORK:

When talking with parents of young children about the idea of being in a Missional Community, of joining a small group of believers who work together to declare and demonstrate the gospel, I usually get one of two excuses.

Click here to find out more.

Grace and Peace,
Michael “Stew” Stewart
Founding Director, Verge Network

Two Essential Encouragements for Parenting SENT Kids by John Richardson, guest blogger

Do you remember praying for your children before they were born…while they were still in the womb?  Over the nine months that my wife was pregnant with our first child, I prayed often for our little girl. I prayed that she would be healthy. I prayed that she would be kind, compassionate and loving. I also prayed that she would be mesmerized by the love of God.

I remember verbally handing her back to God during that time – before I had ever held her in my own arms.  I recall praying that her life would be spent on the things of God, regardless of what that meant.

Today, it’s a little harder to pray those prayers for our girls (there are now 3 of them).  I still pray regularly that they would be mesmerized by God’s love.  I still pray that they would live sent.  But, I secretly pray that they would always live sent, close to home.

I have a deep admiration for parents who train their children in the ways of Jesus, knowing those teachings may one day lead them toward difficulties or away to distant lands.  I have an incredible appreciation for parents who love their kids so deeply that they learn to release them to God – knowing that He loves them infinitely more than we ever could.

So, I write these words as admirer of yours and as a fellow struggler with you in the world of raising SENT kids.  And with that heart, I want to offer you two quick ideas that may help you stay the course when you would like to turn around.

1. Our children can learn to live sent apart from us, but God desires that we would play a key role in their SENTness.

In other words, God can do anything He desires in the life of your child, but sending works best in generational models.

Do you remember what Jesus said about His mission on earth?  After He was raised from the dead, Jesus appeared to the disciples with this message:

“Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you”
(John 20:21).

I do not think that Jesus stumbled into these words.  He could have said any number of things.  He could have simply said, “Hey guys!  I’m back.  And my work is done.  Now it’s your turn.”  But instead, He outlined the pattern for sending.  He indicated that the Father initiated the mission and the Son modeled what He saw from the Father. Then, He told those men – whom He “raised” spiritually – “I am sending you.” From the Father to the Son to the apostles…there was a generational model of sending.

As parents, I think that God desires for us to continue this pattern.  We model SENT lives and regularly teach our children to live in the ways of God.  Not only do we teach them this this out of obedience, but just as importantly, we teach them these things because it’s the only road leading to a truly abundant, satisfying life.

  • 2. We play a crucial role in helping our children listen to the Sender.

Some parents may think I’m nuts at this point, but let me tell you something that I think will get your attention. Not only do I believe that God is speaking to you, but I also believe that God is speaking to your kids. He is doing things in your child’s life to pull on their heartstrings. He is whispering in the still, small voice that He used with Elijah (see 1 Kings 19) to teach your child His ways.

He knows how to get their attention.

As parents, we all want to give our children great gifts.  And one of the greatest gifts we can give them is an awareness of God’s voice. So, encourage them to listen. Ask them how God is speaking to them. Engage them in seeking God’s voice through family prayer times and help them to understand that as God sends them out, His voice will always guide them.

What do you think would happen if we allowed these two ideas to shape the culture of our homes?  Give me your feedback so that we can grow, together.

___________________
John is the author of Parent Shift. This ebook about parenting can be purchased on Amazon.com for only $2.99.

The Key Element for Raising God-Loving Children by John Richardson, guest blogger

If you want good kids, you can change the rules in your house.  But, if you truly want God-loving children, you have to change the culture of your home.

Do you remember the story of Jaycee Dugard? At the age of eleven, Jaycee was walking up a hill near her home. She was wearing her favorite, all pink outfit and was walking to the nearest school bus stop. As she walked up the hill, a gray sedan pulled to the curb and asked Jaycee a question. The occupants of the car then subdued her with a stun gun, abducted her and drove off – to the horror of her on-looking stepfather.

Eighteen years and untold abuses later, Jaycee was discovered alive with two teenage daughters.

Can you imagine the mental anguish her parents faced over those years? That very thought sends some parents into hyper-protection mode. Strangers in the grocery store are viewed with heightened suspicion. Sex off ender databases are monitored for changes. “Stranger danger” conversations become regular talk around the table.

Even though Jaycee Dugard survived, her story touches a sensitive nerve for many parents. It is a stark reminder that we cannot take our eyes off our children in our ever-darkening world.

Bubble-Popping Fear

Over the last twenty or thirty years, our safe, U.S. bubble has popped. When I was a child, the world was seemingly a decent place. I used to spend the majority of my afternoons riding my BMX bike through the wooded area a few blocks from our home. The only time my parents were concerned was when I stayed out past dark or when I wanted to cross high-traffic roads.

As a child, I did not have many worries. Safety was one of the last things on my mind. Today, children hear worrisome stories about abductions and classroom shootings. Parents shelter their children behind privacy fences and research the safety records of local schools.

To that end, many daycare centers have video surveillance, allowing parents to access live, online feeds of their children. Seemingly more than ever, it makes sense to keep a watchful eye on the safety of your child…regardless of the distance between the two of you.

Video cameras and extra steps of precaution simply make sense to us as parents. We value the safety of our kids.

Here’s the problem. Bubble-wrapped children are not necessarily healthy children. And our obsession with safety may be causing us to fail as parents.

Teaching Like Jesus

Think about how Jesus reared the disciples. Do you remember any stories that proclaim the virtues of safety? Can you think of an instance where Jesus taught them to pursue a safe life?

Jesus obviously cared about the well-being of the disciples. He did not push them in front of oncoming donkeys or dunk them under the water and hold them down. He did care. More than that, He loved them deeply. He just never taught them to value a safe life. As much as this grates across our parental instincts, maybe we should stop teaching and reinforcing the value of fear.

As I look at how Jesus led the disciples, I do not see Him worrying over their every step. In fact – try to swallow this as a parent – His primary focus was not on the ones He was in charge of leading. His eagle-eye was not primarily watching the activity of the disciples; it was watching the movements of the Father.

As Cindi Dinkler points out, “His life was not all about them. He did not whisk them away to some secret place in order to pour all of His efforts into their training. Jesus was predominantly about His Father’s work. He was driven by obedience to the Father and He took His disciples along for the ride.”

Jesus was not preoccupied with keeping His eyes on the disciples. He said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). That was the environment which set the stage for everything Jesus taught. He created a culture of looking to God. Then, all of His subsequent teachings highlighted aspects of the God-focused culture.

He was not sidetracked by the safety, or the behavior, of the disciples. He was not concerned about helping them become good or successful men. Instead, He wanted them to learn the power of looking-for-and-listening to God. He wanted them to be God-loving men. And in the end, that is how eleven of the twelve turned out.

They may not have memorized every word He said, but they could not forget the God-focused culture He created for them.

If we want to raise spiritually healthy followers of Jesus, maybe we should spend more time with our eyes on the Father. Maybe we should spend less time mulling over the “what-if ’s” of this world and spend more time listening to the day-by-day advice of God.

As long as our eyes are fixed primarily on our children’s safety, we are teaching them that safety is the highest value in life. When safety is the top priority, it sets the culture for the rest of your teachings. Conversely, when we keep our eyes pointed toward God, our children learn that following God’s ways – not necessarily pursuing safety – is the highest value in life. That’s when God-focus becomes the culture of our homes.

I know that is a lot easier said than done, but I am also convinced that it is a crucial step in our parent shift. When we keep our eyes pointed toward God, our children learn that following God’s ways – not necessarily pursuing safety – is the highest value in life.

We have to develop the same style culture that Jesus created. Then, we will be ready to teach our children in the ways of Jesus.

_________________________
John is the author of Parent Shift. This ebook about parenting can be purchased on Amazon.com for only $2.99.

Check out the new ebook Parent Shift from my friend John Richardson. Worth the read…

My friend John Richardson and I met each other in our middle school years. We played a whole lot of basketball together. I don’t think either of us expected to end up helping folks start a new local church, which we did in two different cities, respectively. And I don’t think either of us expected to write stuff about lessons we are learning as parents. But we did that, too, by God’s grace. He has also written a really unique book with a very special story about the local church and together generosity called Giving Away the Collection Plate. John also blogs at DiscipleWriter.com.

But with regards to this blog site, John wrote Parent Shift. This ebook about parenting can be purchased on Amazon.com for only $2.99.

This week I will feature three blog posts from John. The first is a description of Parent Shift, which is below. The other two are derived from the book.  Praying they will sharpen you as they have sharpened me as we all continue to ask Jesus to help us grow kids with grace and send kids with gospel. 🙂

-jason

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About Parent Shift

Let me ask you something.  What is your parenting goal?  Maybe – to this point – your goal has been to raise good kids.  Maybe your goal is to raise an academic scholar or maybe you want to produce a doctor (who can eventually help you pay your bills).  Maybe you are at the point where you’ll be happy with childhood survival; you just want them to make it through in one piece.

At some point, all parents have to ask the tough questions related to the way they are raising their children.  For example, “Have I really succeeded by teaching them right from wrong and helping them get through 3rd grade math?” Or, “Is it enough that I pass on some (stunningly attractive) genes and teach them to obey all the rules?”  We, as parents, want our children to live deeply satisfying and happy lives.  So, will our current parenting goals and techniques get them there?

Parent Shift was created to refocus our parenting goals based on the ways of Jesus.  This short book focuses on the things that truly matter.  It is written to address the most important (yet often the most overlooked) area of raising children…spiritual health.  Parent Shift was designed to help your family to bridge the gap between church and home.  It can empower you to:

  • Raise disciples at home (without waiting on the church to disciple them)
  • Develop a discipling plan based on your child’s individual personality
  • Teach your children to listen for God’s voice
  • Encourage a lifestyle of serving others

Our children are worth more than status quo parenting.  Parent Shift demonstrates how to help them live up to their incredible worth by nudging parents toward one, audacious goal…raising children that think and act like Jesus.