Back to School Week 3: Parent-Teacher Conference
Back to school. It’s that time of year when we all do whatever we can to prepare. We hit the sales, stock up on all the supplies and make sure we are equipped for the next challenge life is about to throw at us. But are we sure we have everything we need? Maybe our backpacks are still missing something.
Chip: Well, good afternoon to everybody. We are in a series called “Back to School.” I want to just give a little background in case you’re new or if you’ve missed a week or so. I’ll just give you a background of what we try to do on the weekends here. It’s a big deal to me as a pastor, our staff, the creative team to make sure that the content that we deliver on the weekends is something that helps you in your Christian life. I am a firm believer — in Ephesians 4, Paul lists a group of people. He says there’s apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Those people are there, he says, to equip saints to work ministry. So, when we gather here on the weekend, whether a Saturday or Sunday, I feel like what I am supposed to be doing — and it’s my responsibility as the pastor and teacher of this church — is to make sure that you’re equipped in your life to be able to live what God has for you. So, we take that really serious.
We try really hard to make sure that the content on the weekends is something that really benefits your life and is applicable. We try to also make it contextual. We know everybody’s going back to school. Back to school is on everybody’s minds. Even if you aren’t going back to school, you know the traffic’s there. So, what we thought was it would be fun to take some light-hearted things that we remember at school and then maybe make some spiritual applications. So, last week, we talked about extra credit and what it meant to be an extra credit Christian. Well, this weekend, we’re going to talk about parent-teacher conference. Now, I don’t know about you all, but I always cringed when my mom and dad went to a parent-teacher conference because I wasn’t the best kid in school. That’s why the Lord needed to redeem this wretched heart.
But you remember how those were. They tell you something your kid did bad. You got information. So, we thought that when we first started this series, this would be a great moment to take a pause — because we don’t do a lot of this publicly — to talk about raising kids and how important it is to be parents and all of those great things. The more I thought about it, the more I said, “You know, if we just do a parenting sermon, what’ll happen is there’ll be people in here that will tune out. They’ll go, “You know, I knew I heard God on Thursday telling me to go to Siesta Key this weekend.”
So, this is for all of us. We’ll see that in just a minute. Everybody here is going to be able to get something out of this in the way that we’ve structured it because we’re going to have a talk amongst us as church people that will be applicable to parents, but it’ll also be applicable to everybody else. So, to get everybody in the mood for kids, I want to get you in the mood. What I did is I found this site online that has the funniest parent tweets about their kids. Now, listen. This isn’t Christian, okay? It’s just funny. It’s humor. Okay? Some of you are like, “That’s not that funny. Kids are more important than that.” I understand that, but what I’m saying is that it’s funny. Let’s look at a couple of these. I think you’ll enjoy them.
“My cat sat on the surge protector behind the TV and turned it off. At least someone in this house is setting screen time limits.”
“Nothing is worse than reading your kid a bedtime story and flipping to a page with a bunch of words.”
“If you’re on the fence about having kids, repeat ‘put your shoes on, please’ 100 times in a row until you’re in a blinding rage, and then see if it’s right for you.”
It might not be right for you. You want to make sure that it’s right for you. Okay?
“There should be more parenting books on ways to play with your children while you’re lying on the couch.”
Yes. And then the last one — and I think this is great here — is, “Arrive late for the first day of school because it’s important to stick to a consistent routine with kids.”
Yes. Love it. So, there you go. Everybody’s now in the mood for kids. So, let’s talk for a minute here why this message is critically important not only for parents, step parents, grandparents, foster parents, adoptive parents — if I missed anybody, I’m sorry. But anybody who’s a parent or sees themselves as a parent, and why it’s also important for us as a church. Listen to this: We live in Sarasota. You all know as well as I do, I think the average age in Sarasota is 112. Just a joke. It’s a joke. But if you are a church in Sarasota, there’s one thing that most churches in Sarasota cannot say that they have. It’s unfortunate, but it’s just the truth: Most churches do not have a thriving children’s ministry. Okay? I want you to listen to this: We have right at 200 kids — listen — that are 11 years and younger that come to this church every single weekend. Unbelievable.
Which means no matter how we want to slice or dice it, God has entrusted this church with children. And I want to show you something here because this is for everybody. This is a parent-teacher conference for everybody: The most important time — the most opportune time — to reach a human in their lifetime is between the ages of four and fourteen. Think about that for a minute. That God has given us well over 200 kids 14 and younger in this church, that means God has given us a responsibility to make sure that we genuinely are reaching the next generation. And I can I tell you that God doesn’t have grandchildren? He only has sons and daughters which means if we’re not reaching the next generation, we’re always one generation from extinction as Christians.
Then, on top of that, when Jesus was teaching or ministering, if a kid was brought to Him or a kid showed up, what would He do? He would sort of put them right in the midst. If Jesus is putting children in the midst, maybe we should too. Maybe churches need to really think through what’s going on, which is why, here at Grace, we focus on children. You may not see it, but I want to make sure that you do see it now. The reason we do the First Fridays, the reason we do the back to school initiatives, the reason we do what we do in children’s church — and Nanette does a fantastic job, and all of her volunteers, on doing children’s church. The reason we do musicals is because we really, passionately believe that God has given us favor here to reach children and we want to make sure that we do everything that we can.
So, what we’re going to do today is — we’ve been doing vocabulary phrases. We’re going to continue that for Back to School. But we’re going to mention about eight things that we think are important for us not only as parents, but as a church, as people that go here, recognizing how important children are.
As I thought about doing this, I said to myself, “You know what? It wouldn’t be as beneficial to the church if I did this alone,” and I thought, “The person I know who’s the best that I know at raising kids and is just a great mom is my wife Mindy,” and I asked her if she would join me today. So, can you all give her a huge round of applause for my wife Mindy coming up here? She’s been trying for eight years to get up here and preach.
Mindy: That is not true at all. In fact, for the last eight years, I have said, “I will never do this,” but God has a way of just shoving you out of your comfort zone. I know this because my youngest daughter’s now in school, so for the past several months leading up to this, I’ve been praying to God, “God, just give me a boldness. Show me new ways that you can use me. Teach me to trust You more.” So, when Chip came to me with this idea a little while back, I immediately knew. I was like, “Okay.” And as much as I wanted to say, “No, no. I don’t want to do that,” the Holy Spirit just wouldn’t let me say no. So, here I am.
Mindy: I’m doing it.
Chip: Seriously, isn’t that great? That’s the way we are here at Grace. If you come in and you join in and we know your name, we just get you right involved in ministry. I mean, that’s just the way we do it around here. We believe it’s important. So, knowing that that’s the way we do it, I think that you should start off the first vocabulary term.
Chip: Just show these people how preaching is done, okay?
Mindy: Alright. Let’s rock and roll.
Chip: Okay. Good.
Mindy: Our first vocabulary term is “child’s gift.” Children are a gift from God. If you’ve spent any time at all with children, whether you’re a parent, a grandparent, an aunt and uncle, a neighbor or a children’s ministry worker, you understand just how special children are. They bring us so much joy and so much hope. They really are a gift. We’re going to see in Scripture, in the story of Hannah, that God is the giver of the gift.
“For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord.”
Hannah realized God was the giver of children because she asked Him for a child. She also realized that even though she was given the child, the child ultimately belonged to the Lord. So, realizing that the children are special and given to us by God means that they are a huge responsibility to all of us. So, the question that we need to be asking ourselves constantly is how do we steward the gifts that God gives us?
Chip: That’s a great question. Let’s talk about that for just a second. When we think of the fact that we’ve been given 200 kids here at Grace — that’s not our kids. I know y’all are thinking that. We have a lot of kids, but not that many.
Mindy: We have a lot, but not that many.
Chip: I mean, we make up a large number of that 200, but not all of our kids are 200. But when we think about that, I mean, what an incredible responsibility it is to steward that. You know? I think we try to do that by having an incredibly intentional childcare program, the First Fridays and the things that we do. I just would say to everybody here in the church, if you go to Grace and Grace is your home church, God has given us all these children. Not only as parents do we feel the responsibility and do we want to be equipped to be able to raise these kids, but as a church we need to make sure that we are intentional. Pray about the children’s department here. Believe it or not, maybe going back there every once in a while and serving is a good thing. And I know that a lot of people feel uncomfortable, but Nanette has put this thing together that you can go back there and find a spot and help out because we’re just growing. I just want everybody to feel the responsibility. It’s not just us. It’s everybody in this church has a responsibility, if this is your home church, to make sure that we steward the gifts that God has given us here in this local house.
So, let’s think about that and let’s make sure that we do. The second vocabulary phrase is “how-to doesn’t exist.” Anybody who’s a young parent is going to know this is true. If you’ve been a parent, you know that this is true. Children don’t come with owner’s manuals. Right? Come on, now. You know that’s true. What happens is, when you’re a young parent, everybody likes to come and tell you what you should be doing. Right? Do you know what I’m talking about? “Oh, let me tell you what you do there with that. If they’ve got a sore throat, you put some Vick’s rub on the big toe, put a sock over it. Then, to help them sleep, you put a vacuum cleaner in the closet and turn it on.”
They’ve got all that. You’re thinking, “What?” But what I’m saying is kids don’t come with an owner’s manual. They don’t. Sometimes we guilt ourselves and make ourselves feel really bad because maybe we’re not getting everything perfectly right. Let me tell you something: Parenting is an adventure and nobody does it perfectly because they don’t come with owner’s manuals. But what I can say, as a pastor, as a church and as parents, there’s two things that I know for sure that we need to be aware of.
The first one is we’re to teach them about the Lord. This I can tell you for a fact. Even though they don’t come with an owner’s manual, I can tell you Scripture says this.
Moses says, in Deuteronomy 6:6, “These words that I commanded you today shall be on your heart.”
He’s speaking to a bunch of adults and said, “These words that I told you need to be on your heart.” Look at what he says:
“You shall teach them diligently to your children,”
Diligently. Not just every once in a while. “Oh, by the way...” — diligently to your children.
“And shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise.”
You are to teach children the Word of God and teach them about who Jesus is. That should be something that we do. The second thing — and this is a real big revelation when you get it — is to realize the power that we have in shaping children, as parents and as a church — Paul says something to guys like me who are fathers, but it applies to everybody.
He says, “Fathers, don’t provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”
In other words, the words out of my mouth can discourage a child. I mean, I can shape that child in a way of discouragement, or I can shape them in a way of encouragement. As a church, we get to choose. As we teach these kids and as we help shape these kids, we need to realize that we have a huge responsibility to shape kids. I mean, that’s a...
Mindy: Yeah. You’re right. It is an incredible responsibility, but it’s also such an amazing opportunity to be the ones that get to shape them. You know, we live in such a scary world sometimes, especially for children. To be the ones that give them the good news is just something that we can...
Chip: On Saturday night, sometimes — there’s a lot of kids that come on Saturday night. After Saturday night, people like to hang out because we don’t have the cadence — or we haven’t up to this point. We will eventually have two. But we’ve had the cadence where there’s nobody coming in. It’s a free-for-all after service. The kids run around the church. I’ve had parents come to me and go, “Hey, there’s kids running around the church.” I’m like, “Let them run.” They’re like, “Why are you letting them run?” I’m like, “Because I don’t want any kid to come to Grace Community Church and feel like they are told all the things they can’t do. I want them to love coming to church. I want them to have a ball when they come. And I know some people, they’re like, “Oh, they shouldn’t be running,” or whatever. I can just tell you this: 85% of the children, when they turn 18 and go to school, don’t go to church.
I want the kids that come through Grace Community Church to love the house of God so much that the first thing they want to do before even getting a dorm room is finding a church that they’re going to go to. So, it’s a big deal to me.
The third vocabulary phrase is that one size doesn’t fit all. Each child is uniquely created by God and we need to figure out their gifts, talents and help shape them for God’s glory. Now, we have a lot of kids. Not one of them is alike.
Mindy: No. They’re all so different and we have to kind of approach each one in a different way, a unique way based on what that child’s needs are.
Chip: Yeah. The ones that behave have my genes. Just a joke. But let me ask you a question because you read a lot of children’s books and you know this passage here:
“Train up a child in the way that they should go; when they’re old they won’t depart.”
Would you agree with me that, as a general rule, when that Scripture is read, it’s basically — or explained. If you train up a kid right, raise them in church, teach them to pray before they eat, “God is great, God is good,” or whatever, and do all that stuff, and don’t let them watch movies that are too bad, make sure that they go to youth group or whatever, that eventually they’ll turn out to be Christians.
Mindy: Yes. I have definitely heard it that way.
Chip: It’d be nice if it was just that easy.
Mindy: If it was that easy, that would be wonderful.
Chip: Yeah. And the reality is that so many people — I mean, I’ve done it. I’ve talked to them. They’re like, “Chip, I raised my kid perfectly, right? I know we did. We didn’t do everything right, but we raised them at church, we prayed for them, taught them the Word of God. They didn’t turn out that way.”
Well, let me help a little bit. I know that there are sacred cows. I’ll also remind you that sometimes those sacred cows do make the best hamburger meat, so we do have to talk about them. Let me help you as a teacher, as a professor, as a pastor to understand the genre of Proverbs are not promises. The genre of Proverbs are general truth statements. They were compiled by ancient Israel. They’re general truth statements. In other words, when Solomon says, “If you store up food in your barn during the summer, you will have food for the winter.” Well, that’s pretty much true. If you don’t put food in the barn, you’re probably not going to have food for the winter. But your barn could burn down and then you wouldn’t have food even though you did what you were doing. It’s a general truth statement.
So, this passage, first of all, is not a promise. It’s a general truth statement. But, on top of it, I don’t even know that we’re reading it right because what the writer is saying is that if we train up our children in — look here — the way he should go. It’s talking about natural disposition. Children have natural dispositions to go a certain way. Sometimes, we try to pull them. When I was growing up, do you know what I did? Everything that I reached for was with my left hand. I was born in 1970. So, do you know what my mom and dad did? They’re like, “Ain’t nothing for left-handed people,” so they basically just tied that arm behind my back and made me use the right hand. That’s why I am so messed up to this day. You know?
But my daughter, Grace, is left-handed. My grandfather was left-handed. My dad’s sister is left-handed. There’s probably a good chance I would’ve been left-handed, but they didn’t rain me up in the way that I should’ve gone. You know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I think that when we see that, it’s huge because what we do is instead of going one size fits all, and this works for every single person, I think what the writer here is telling us is that each child is unique. If they’re ticky-tacking with spoons, maybe they need a set of drums. If they’re really outgoing, maybe you need to provide opportunities for them to — in other words, as a parent, you’re honoring the way they should go, and what you’re doing is you’re training them. Actually, the word “train” in Hebrew is “dedicate.” It’s like the dedication of a temple. You’re dedicating a child in the way that they should go and the general truth is that if you will help them go that way, they will continue to do that later on in life.
I think that it’s really important for us not to just focus on one size fits all parenting. Each child is unique. Each child needs to be parented in a unique way. We need to do that in our children’s ministry as well. Do you know what? I’m feeling really Christian right now and wanting to turn this over to you. You take and explain. How about that?
Mindy: Okay. Alright. Here we go. Vocabulary phrase number four: Comparison stopping.
Chip: I almost put “shopping” in there. Do you like to shop?
Mindy: Yeah. Maybe.
Mindy: Okay. Don’t compare a child with other children. We’re going to look at Scripture and we’re going to see where Samuel goes to Jesse’s house to anoint the king.
“When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before him.’ But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’”
Chip: Man, that’s good stuff. Let’s chat about that for a second. So, Samuel comes to Jesse’s house and he sees this young man that’s tall, handsome, and his word — listen to the word there: “Surely.” I mean, looking on the outward appearance, surely this is the one.”
But it’s not because Samuel is told God doesn’t look that way. He looks differently. How often — I mean, we do. We look at magazines and we see what something’s to look like, or even our own kids, sometimes one of them is excelling in grades and it’s almost like you want to grab the other one and go, “Hey, look. You brother’s doing good. How come you can’t do it?” We have to stop that. We can’t compare kids.
Mindy: Right. We need to praise each child for their unique strength. When our child’s doing something well, we just need to appreciate it.
Chip: Yeah. That’s a good point. So, just think about that as parents and as a church. If one of the kids is running down the hall going crazy, and you look at that kid and there’s one kid that’s sitting there doing really good, and you look at that kid and say, “Hey, why don’t you act like him?” There’s a better way to do that. So, we need to really stop comparing.
The next vocabulary phrase is the “S” word. The “S” word is where we learn to say sorry because we aren’t perfect. Let me just take a moment here and tell you how important it is as a parent to be able to tell your kids you’re sorry. I have a way I do it. You don’t have to do it my way. But the smaller kids, I put up on a bed. I stand them on the bed so they can see me eye to eye, or I get down on my knee and look eye to eye to them. Because there’s times where I’m busy. One of the kids maybe comes in and says, “Hey, dad.”
I’m like, “Hey, hold on. I’m doing something,” or whatever. Then, all of a sudden, I realize, “They’re far more important than what I’m doing.” We’ve all done that. I’ll go grab them, get down on a knee and say, “Hey, look. Daddy wants to talk to you for a second. I’m sorry. I was in there doing that. It was important to daddy, but it’s not more important than you. So, can you forgive me? What is it that you needed from your dad so I can help you out?”
And this is what I’ve learned when I’ve been able to say sorry: It shows them you’re human. A lot of times, your kids look at you and they think that you’re Superman or Superwoman. You can do no wrong. That is a faulty view for them to have. Because, eventually, that’s going to crash because none of us are perfect. It also teaches them authenticity. It allows us to be honest with them and it shows vulnerability. I would encourage you, if you have a hard time saying sorry to your kids, to learn to say sorry.
Mindy: Yeah. I think it’s incredibly important to apologize to your children. If, for some reason, you can’t, maybe it’s pride that’s keeping you from doing that. Having pride in your life is never a good thing, so you have to just get rid of the pride and apologize when you’re wrong. By apologizing, like Chip said, you show them that you’re a human. I think, sometimes, our kids like to put us on a pedestal and think that we’re perfect, but we need to remind them that we’re human, we’re broken and we’re flawed, just like everybody is. So, to be able to do that is a gift to them.
The other thing I was going to say about that was you model for them what it looks like in the real world to apologize.
Chip: That’s a good point.
Mindy: They are going to have situations in their life, in school, with friendships, or even as they grow older where they need to know how to apologize. When we can be role models in our home for our children, it’s so beneficial to them.
Chip: Yes, it is. That’s great. Somebody’s clapping. It’s true. It is.
Mindy: Thank you. And then they also learn how to forgive. They learn how to give us grace because they’re going to have to either be on the forgiving side or the apologizing side multiple times in their life. So, for them to be able to give grace back to us, it’s just an awesome thing.
Chip: You know, if in our houses we could tell our kids we’re sorry, and really show that, we could conquer a lot of the bullying that’s going on in the world if we could just be vulnerable to our children. You know? It starts here. Remember: “Judgment starts in the house of God,” Peter says. It’s funny because Christians are always like, “I just want God to judge things. I want Him to judge.”
He starts at the church, so you might not want to pray for judgment. You might want to pray for some grace. You know? People are like, “Oh, I can’t wait for God to judge everything.” Judgment starts at the house of God, so just think through that.” I love in Scripture — do you remember, Jesus, He’d get in the boat in Galilee and then He’ll go to the other side of the thing. It’s your turn.
Mindy: Okay. Number six, the friend zone.
Chip: Don’t friend zone me.
Mindy: It’s a little late for that.
Mindy: We are called to parent children, not make them simply friends.
Chip: Whoa. Let’s talk about that one.
Mindy: Oh, yes. That’s a good one.
Chip: Let’s talk about that one. Okay, listen. I’m going to readily admit on the scale of friend to parent, I err on the side of parent more than I err on the side of friend. I’m pretty disciplined and like for things to be a certain way. But I don’t want to be snarky, and you can absolutely correct me if I’m wrong here. Just feel free to jump in. But I watch parents today, and I think it’s because of culture and because of just norms, and it’s like they just want to be their kid’s best friend. They want to dress like them, listen to the same music and all of that. We are called to be parents first and not friends first. Not that we can’t love our kids, not that we can’t be their friends, but we need to be parents. I mean, kids need some boundaries. They need to know what’s right and wrong. It starts with you and me being parents. Am I wrong?
Mindy: Yeah. You’re right. This is something that has come up a lot...
Chip: She said I was right. Did you hear that? So, I’m right.
Mindy: This is something that’s come up a lot in our house lately because we have some preteens. For the longest time, they would come home from school when they were younger and I would know everything. They would share everything with me. But, as they get older, they start to pull away just a little bit. There’s this temptation to want to kind of stay in their inner circle and to be relevant to them, but you have to really be careful about the line that you walk there because they need a parent. Our children need us to be parents to them. We have to be role models to them.
Chip: That’s a good point.
Mindy: Yeah. It’s just really important. And I think that you can balance this. If your children know that you love them and that you care for them and that they can trust you and that you’re there to listen, you can provide boundaries and you can hold them accountable for their actions. You can be an authoritarian person in their life and still have a really beautiful relationship with them.
Chip: That’s a good point. I just think we just need to own the fact, especially if we’re parents and God has given us a gift of a child, we need to realize that we’re, first, parent, second, friend. Not vice versa. I think in today’s world, there’s a blurring of that. Let’s be honest. I always ask the question how is what we’re doing working? When I look at society, I go, “There’s a lot of things that could be better.”
It just has to start with us. It’s not something that we can yell at other people about. We just need to start here, at the house of God, and be the parents and the Christian folks that God has called us to be. We will make a difference in the world if we can be that light.
So, the next one is “fail opportunities.” I coined this phrase. I made it up. Did you know that?
Chip: American Heritage Dictionary called me and said, “Can we have that word?” I said, “Absolutely.” I coined this word because this is a word I’m very familiar with. A fail opportunity is mistakes that we make are a great place for our kids to learn valuable lessons if we can, in fact, be vulnerable. It’s not only just being able to say sorry, it’s being able to say, “This is what daddy did wrong. Let’s talk about that. How did that make you feel? What do you think daddy could do differently? How could we be better at this?”
Some of the greatest moments I’ve had with my kids were not the mountaintop experiences. They were the times where I was able to say, “You know what? I got caught up in there. I should’ve listened more. Do you feel like, sometimes, when you come to dad that I’m distracted? How can I work on that?”
And do you know what? There’s just a powerful thing because every single one of us has parenting fails. You know what I’m talking about? We just do. We fail as parents. In fact, so that you can have some fun with this, I went online and typed in “parenting fails” and clicked “images.” I was blown away with what I saw. The good news: We weren’t in any of those pictures.
Chip: So, even better news for you, nobody at Grace was in those pictures. But here’s a couple of parenting fails. They’re unbelievable. So, I guess this dad decides, looking over a fence, he sees some raccoons. He just figures, “I guess I’ll just take my kid by his ankles, lift him over and feed the raccoons.” So, here we go. He’s feeding the raccoons. Mom’s in on it. She’s got food. So, she’s like, “Yeah. Go ahead, honey. Get some.”
Listen: It’s so bad that Rocky the Raccoon has turned his back in shame. He’s like, “I’m not even going to watch this thing. This is terrible.” How about this one here? “Hey, honey. Stand up there while I video you.” That’s a parenting fail, right? How about this one here? “Cliff edges are dangerous. Let’s go sing the Sound of Music up there, family.”
What I’m saying is you may not have done those parenting fails, but we’ve all had those moments where we have failed. Just being able to go, “You know what? I shouldn’t have done that. Let’s talk about why I shouldn’t have done that. Let’s talk about what we could do differently,” that’s huge when we’re dealing with children.
Mindy: Yeah. I agree. Parenting fails. Wow. I think, for mothers especially, if you think you failed, just take a real good look because, a lot of times as moms, we assume that we failed and we put all this guilt on ourselves. But, a lot of times, we just need to cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves a break because what we think was a fail really wasn’t as bad as we think it is. But the times that we do fail, and we know we’ve failed, those are opportunities for us to grow, learn and figure out what works and what doesn’t work. You know, when you have a fail and you sit around and wallow in it, that doesn’t serve anybody. That doesn’t serve you and that doesn’t serve your children, so you’ve just got to move forward and grow from it.
Chip: Yeah. And then you always talk about when you fail that finding that person at the next...
Mindy: Yeah. When I have had times in parenting where I’ve felt overwhelmed or felt like I wasn’t getting it right, the biggest resource for me has been a Christian sister, a Christian woman who’s just one season ahead in life than I am.
Chip: Listen to this. This is wisdom right here. Listen.
Mindy: For me to go and talk to somebody who I know has been through it, who has survived it and has the wisdom that I don’t have is so valuable. You know? You have to have people pour into your life. It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask for an ear to listen. Then if you’re in a higher season, just remember to turn that back to the younger moms. I have a real heart for brand new moms because I know just how incredibly difficult it is to bring a baby home from the hospital and not know what you’re doing. But, yeah. Just being able to reach out and help each other during these times that we think we’ve failed will really benefit us.
Chip: And it will. I want to take just a moment here and — especially if you are older here at our church, I want you to take a moment and please lean in. In America today, there is a really negative thing going on that we’re splitting between old and young churches. Listen, we need older people at Grace Community Church. We want you here because you have so many resources to pour into the next generation. Next generation, you need to make sure that you reach out to the older people in the church and ask them for help. They will give you such great advice. Please, if you’re older and you’re in the autumn of your life, please understand there is so much opportunity here. Titus talks about that, the older people pouring into the younger people. With such a division going on in the local churches, I want you to know I am passionate, as your pastor, to having a multi-generational church here at Grace Community Church where both old and young alike can come together and we can worship the Lord and learn from one another. Right? Amen?
Chip: And the last one here is what I called a child moment because I’ve been using God moment and some other stuff for these vocabulary phrases, but this is a moment I had too. I didn’t know this until we were planning for this. I don’t know how I stumbled over it, but it was a wow moment for me.
In the New Testament, three different people come to Jesus with a request for their child, and He answers every one of them. I went, “Whoa.” It could’ve been whatever God intended in Scripture, but there’s three. There’s Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, that come to Jesus and he’s a stately man, a man that would have decorum. Jesus is being thronged by a crowd and he just comes and throws himself at Jesus’ feet and says, “Can you please come help my daughter? My daughter’s dying.”
Of course, Jesus goes. On the way, she dies, but He ends up healing her. But Jairus comes with a request for his child. Jesus answers it. The Syrophoenician woman who’s a Canaanite, a Gentile, comes and Jesus answers that. And the man here with a muted son, who’s gone to the disciples, comes to Jesus and says, “Hey, Your disciples couldn’t help. Could You help?” Jesus heals this boy. What I come away with is that there’s no way that we cannot realize that the Lord is concerned about our children. I mean, He is concerned. For me, it is such an encouraging thing to know that when we pray for our kids and we pray over our kids and pray with our kids, those prayers are not going unanswered. God really does care about our kids.
Mindy: Yeah. I love these Scriptures because I just love to see the tenderness that Jesus has towards children. It just reminds me of God’s tenderness towards all of us. It makes me think about myself as a child. Unlike Chip, I didn’t grow up in a traditional family. I had what some would probably call a messy childhood. I didn’t always feel like a gift or a blessing to the adults in my life. So, to know that my Heavenly Father saw me that way is so comforting to me. To know that I didn’t walk alone, that my Heavenly Father saw me as a gift and a blessing and He walked with me through all of it is just powerful. It’s just awesome. I just want to make sure that here, especially at this church, every child that comes here knows what a gift they are and knows what a blessing they are.
Chip: That’s awesome. Yeah. Look, you may be here today and maybe you felt like you’ve walked alone. You haven’t. You’re not here by accident. If you’re born, you were a gift. You were someone that God wanted to be here. I just hope and pray that every child that comes into contact with Grace, whether through our children’s ministry, whether through First Friday, whether through going back to school initiatives, my prayer — and it should be our prayer as a church — is that they will know that they are a gift and that their Heavenly Father loves them. Don’t you agree?
It’s incumbent upon us, as parents, to share that with our kids, and incumbent upon us as a church to make sure these kids grow up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, knowing that their Heavenly Father loves them. So, let’s just pause for a moment. We wanted to end this way with a prayer. We just want to take a moment here and pray that God will absolutely continue to use our church to bless the kids that come here. We want to pray specifically that those kids will know that they’re a gift and that their Heavenly Father loves them.
Let’s bow together.
Dear Heavenly Father, we come to You right now and we thank You for the truth of Your Word, and we thank You for the truth about children and what we’ve seen and some of the practical advice that we’ve been given. But Lord, we realize, as church, we have been given a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity to reach children. Lord, not only do we have a children’s ministry that’s overflowing, but we have a ministry in this town that’s reaching hundreds upon hundreds of children once a month at First Friday. We reach hundreds of children when they go back to school. We have a children’s ministry that’s doing all kinds of great things. Lord, You’ve just blessed us.
Lord, my prayer is that every single person here at Grace Community Church would realize how important the gift of these children are that You’ve given to us. Lord, as parents, help us, Lord, to parent in a godly way. As a church, help us to be a church that truly custodians these gifts. Lord, I pray that every child that comes into contact with Grace Community Church, through whatever it is that we do, would just know — Lord, that You would sear in their hearts the love that You have for them; an everlasting love. That they would know that their Heavenly Father cares about them in a way that even just transcends what we can do or the words that we can say.
And Lord, although we pray for the greater area — and Lord, we do. We pray that everybody would know that. Specifically, Lord, help us and remind us that You have given us a great opportunity here with all these children. And help us, Lord, to pour love into their lives and help them to know how much You care about them.
So, Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, that You would watch over us and protect us, that You would lead and guide us, and I pray, Lord, that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord, that You would continue to help us to be the church that You’ve called us to be to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. We love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.