My husband and I are raising four boys. One of the things they know, without a shadow of a doubt, is that on Saturdays in the fall we gather with friends to watch the LSU Tigers play football. Our home fills with fans dressed in purple and gold. We visit, eat, and look after the little ones all while rooting for our favorite team.
Cheering for LSU is part of our family culture. We’re proud to be well on our way to raising the next generation of LSU football fans.
But what else are we raising them to be? What does the culture of our home esteem to be of eternal significance?
My husband and I have been greatly influenced by our local church’s commitment to planting churches—in both the United States and beyond. And we want our family to be about making disciples of all nations, which is accomplished best through the local church. Therefore, we’re raising our boys in a church-planting culture.
Our kids are familiar with each of the church planters sent out from our local church. They are like extended family. We pray for and give to them. We talk about the necessity of church planting and challenge our kids to participate in this vital mission when they grow up.
We want our kids to view their participation in church planting as normal.
We want our kids to view their participation in church planting as normal. We don’t want them to grow up thinking about church planters in terms of “us” and “them.” Since we want them to identify with the work and participate in it in various ways, we’re raising them in an environment where church planting is an everyday aspect of a gospel-shaped lifestyle. It’s what “we” do.
How, then, do we normalize church planting for our kids? Consider five suggestions.
1. Establish a church-planting culture in your home.
There are several good ways to do this. First, surround your family with church planting by covenanting with a church committed to this endeavor. You may consider being part of a church plant yourselves (after all, a church-planting team requires more than just the pastor).
You can financially support church plants, and make sure your kids know other church planters. One way to do this is by keeping pictures and prayer cards of church planters on your fridge. Read church planters’ newsletters aloud at the dinner table, then pray for them and their ministries. Visit church planters and offer to host them when they come to town.
2. Eliminate inconsistencies in your words and actions.
Kids aren’t stupid. If there are inconsistencies between what we say and what we do, they’re likely to sniff them out. Parents, you won’t get away with talking up disciple-making among the nations without some skin in the game. Encourage your kids toward the church-planting lifestyle by embracing it yourselves. If you say you’re passionate about planting churches, then be about the business of planting churches. Kids learn best by seeing something in action and emulating it. Allow your kids to both hear and also see your passion.
3. Endeavor to connect their work to God’s work.
Disciples make disciples. If your children are united with Christ, then the Great Commission is for them. Train them to long for the glory of God and the eternal good of others. Show them how various professions can further the cause of church planting.
If your children are united with Christ, then the Great Commission is for them.
After all, to see healthy churches planted, we need more than just pastors: We need mechanics, teachers, and stay-at-home moms. We need business owners, real-estate agents, and students. As the apostle Paul writes,
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. (Col. 3:23–24)
Aim to teach your kids to connect their vocation to this mission.
4. Expect them to take part in church planting.
Think about your expectations for your children. Many of us expect our kids to make good grades, get into good schools, be good citizens, and take care of us when we’re older. These are all good things. But do we expect them to participate in church planting?
Teach them to love the church and the lost, then show them how both of these loves meet in church planting. Help your sons and daughters envision themselves as part of a church-planting team.
5. Encourage their hearts in the Lord.
Your children have an Enemy who hates them. As they pursue the ministry of reconciliation, he will pursue their destruction. Encourage them. Remind them of the great promises of God. Pray with and for them.
And keep before them a vision of that “great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Rev. 7:9–10). Entice them with the glory of what’s to come.
Future Church Planters
We spend a lot of energy encouraging our kids to chase their dreams. Are we encouraging them to pursue Christ and his kingdom by planting churches? Are we raising kids who will obey the Great Commission? Parents, cultivate your child’s heart toward going and making disciples of all nations. Make disciple-making a regular rhythm in your home. Strive to raise your kids in a church-planting culture.
Teach your kids to love the church and the lost, then show them how both of these loves meet in church planting.
As our children transition from childhood to adulthood, let’s aggressively pursue their transition from being hearers of the Word to doers of the Word. As God raises our kids to new life in Christ, let’s raise them up to plant churches for the sake of his glory among the nations.