For parents, discipleship MUST begin with a focus on our children. Do you believe this? It's a reality that I'm becoming more and more convinced of every day.
Like many of you, we find ourselves daily staring brokenness in the face. Broken lives, broken perspectives, broken relationships, broken spirituality and yes, broken families. It's painful and it's often discouraging. Time and again we find ourselves talking about a desperate need to break the cycle of brokenness. For those who have followed our journey from the beginning, you know that back in 2009-2010 we adopted a teenager named Tiffany. The brokenness in her life, and more specifically the brokenness throughout the generations in her family, was of epidemic proportions. Although Tiffany has taken strides... the cycle has not been broken.
We have many families in our church who currently have or previously had their children in CPS custody for a variety of reasons. Several of these families are among our closest friends. When we speak to them about it there is a sense of normalcy in their tone. They don't want to lose their kids. We've seen them shed so many tears over it. But the normalcy with which they talk of the experience speaks volumes to the brokenness that they have experienced in their own lives. The acceptance of the vicious cycle of brokenness screams loudly of the need for the gospel.
Most recently Kelli and I have invited a teenager to live with us for the remainder of his high school days. One of four brothers, he has been immersed in brokenness for the 3 years that I have known him. He and his brothers have a unique bond that is hard for me to describe. All 4 of them are walking separate paths, mostly alone, because of the cycle of brokenness in their family. Kelli and I know all too well, from our experience with Tiffany, that we cannot break the cycle of brokenness in this young man's life. But we believe, with all our hearts, that the gospel can. And that is our prayer. That is our aim. Will you pray with us?
In regard to our church, I have been having lots of conversations with our KiDCity director Jenna about this horrible cycle and the role God has called our church to play in introducing the gospel into the brokenness. We are convinced the answer is not more programs, more VBS, better curriculum or a bigger budget for the kids ministry. We don't know the full answer, but we're convinced it has less to do with kids ministry and much more to do with the gospel, families and prayer. Our role is not to disciple kids, but to equip parents to become disciples of Jesus whose first focus is to make disciples of their kids. It's the only way to truly break the cycle.
Encouragement. We launched monthly concerts of prayer the first Sunday of this month. No childcare. No kid program. We invited our church to come together, for an hour and a half, to pray for our city. We encouraged parents to use the time as a discipleship opportunity for their kids. To bring their kids, keep them with them the entire time, teach them the "why" of prayer while showing them the "how." Of course I could talk the talk, but I was nervous about walking the walk with my own kids. Four year old twins and an hour and a half prayer gathering seems like a recipe for disaster on the surface. But you know God, he knows what he's doing.
There were moments of chaos, moments of frustration, but there were moments of discipleship with my son and daughter. Beautiful moments. I got to take them, one at a time to read about some of the people in our city that we are called to pray for. I let them pick who we would pray for together and then I took them to a quiet space in the room, showed them how to kneel down before the Lord, explained to them why we would kneel down before the Lord, and then let them pray for our city. It was incredible. It was worship. And it was a direct result of the gospel having an impact in our family.
The results, I believe, ran far deeper than my family and my kids. There were other new believers in the room. They too experienced moments of chaos with their kids. I know they didn't know what exactly to do, but they watched me teach my kids to pray. They saw my attempt to model for my kids what it looks like to ask God for the salvation of my city. One of our good friends was there with her son but her husband had to work. I had the joy of getting to teach her son the "how" and the "why" of prayer and in the process got to teach her the importance of discipling our kids.
It's not a perfect process. But if the gospel is the foundation, prayer is a priority, and our children are the number one recipient of our discipleship efforts, I truly believe the cycle can be broken.