How can we work together as a church--parents and teachers and pastors and everyone else--to produce the future Christian leaders who will be salt and light in our society?
This is a question that a team of us in the Hinsdale congregation have been wrestling with recently. It is clear to us that there is both real need and real opportunity when it comes to the discipling of our children.
On one hand, there is real and pressing need. How our culture forms our children is increasingly out of step with the priorities the gospel sets for us as we seek to bring our children up "in the training and instruction of the Lord." Recent studies have shown that the church at large has not recognized this gap, and consequently is failing in its task of shaping our young ones in being distinctively Christian. This calls for careful thought and much combined effort.
On the other, we have a tremendous opportunity. God has blessed our congregations with a remarkable number of young children. We currently have 51 kids ages 7 and under, which is roughly 1/4 of our two congregations. What's more, one of the things I love about Trinity is how, rather than our kids being separated from everyone else, they are truly a part of this church, worshiping with us and developing relationships across the generations. This is a rare gift, and an important foundation in the pursuit of the spiritual formation of our kids.
So how do we increasingly become a church who forms distinctly Christian disciples, children who grow up to be salt and light, a blessing to the world around us? While there are many aspects to answering this question, one part of the answer that I have become convinced of is that we have to do this together. Parents need the support of the church, because people are formed by a culture, a community. Likewise, our church's children's ministry can only be fruitful when done in integral partnership with the parents. When it comes to discipling our children, the church is a co-op.
I'd appreciate your prayers, that God would give wisdom tor those of us who are trying to think this question through, and what's more, that God would give church-wide unity in this, as we "strive side by side for the gospel" in the discipleship of our children.