Considering how to best train and equip the next generation
in the truths of God may seem a daunting task — and it is, but even more so
when churches and parents try to do it alone.
The dilemma is not, as Reggie Joiner writes in Think Orange,
trying to figure out which is worse: “the church trying to assume a parent’s
responsibility because parents are not…or parents stop assuming responsibility
because the church makes them feel like the church should assume it.”
Throughout Scripture, in passages like Deuteronomy 6:1-9 and
Psalm 78:5-8, the family is declared to be the primary agent in discipling
children. Families in those same Bible passages, though, live out their
responsibility in the context of a broader faith community that serves to
resource, train and encourage parents.
The fact is, both the church and the family have room for
improvement when it comes to taking responsibility for a child’s spiritual
growth. Although two out of three parents in the United
States with children under age 18 attend
religious services at least once a month, the majority of parents spend no time
during the week talking with their children about spiritual issues.
Yet, the local church sometimes tries to be the primary
disciple-maker instead of helping equip parents to do what God intends for them
to do. Joiner writes, “We do what feels like the right thing to do — we
implement programs to replace the parents who should be the spiritual leaders.
We gradually create a mindset that allows the parents to believe that the
church should assume responsibility for the spiritual growth of their kids.”
On average, church leaders have about 40 hours a year with
the youth at their church, while parents have about 3,000 hours with them at
This means parents and church leaders must work together in
order to make the greatest impact.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC)
is launching a new audio resource to help bring churches and families together.
The Church & Family Connect podcast will help church leaders and parents
answer questions about how to make fruitful disciples of the next generation.
“Churches cannot give up on the family and the family cannot
give up on the church,” said Brian Upshaw, BSC
church ministry team leader.
“Many families want to teach and train their children. The
church can help equip families, but also serve as a great source of
encouragement. We pray that this podcast will motivate churches and families to
elevate discipleship among our children and youth.”
The first two interviews are with Randy Stinson, dean of the
School of Church Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Steve
Wright, pastor of family discipleship at Providence
“We are serious about creating a disciple-making culture in
churches and families where lives are changed by the power of God,” Upshaw
Listen to the interviews here.