On Sunday I got the chance to preach in our main services. I spoke about the “big things” that kids really needed to receive from their parents. One of the points I made is that your kids have a finite number of hours to be molded by church – even if they come every single Sunday and Wednesday night. Compared to that bloc of time, parents have an incredible amount of opportunity to help their kids grow in faith. That’s God’s plan A for spiritual formation, it’s driven by parents.
That afternoon I was talking to my wife about the progress one of the kids in her kindergarten class had made throughout the year. He comes from a challenging home, he lives with his grandparents, and at the beginning of the year he struggled to manage his emotions and impulses. As challenging as he was, Dana and his grandmother worked hard, communicated with each other, and saw him make real progress throughout the year. As Dana told me about this, I was struck by how much difference people can make, how much ground they can make up even if the parents aren’t leading their kids.
In ministry, we all want to facilitate God’s plan A for families. We spend our time and energy finding ways to come alongside moms and dads and help them create a spiritual environment in their homes. That’s good, because that truly is the best way for faith to be passed from generation to generation. But I’ve noticed in myself a tendency to become discouraged if families aren’t responding. Sometimes it feels like it’s plan A or nothing.
Don’t forget that God can do awesome things through his plan B. Even if mom and dad aren’t that interested, God can grab and shape a child’s heart though church, friends and youth leaders. When I’m discouraged I tell myself that my ministry alone doesn’t matter if mom and dad aren’t buying in. The truth is that God often uses other people to fill in the gaps.
Every leader and mentor matters. Parents matter the most, but God is pretty good at filling in the gaps. So, be encouraged like I was b Dana’s story this week. God absolutely can do great things through you.