I know I'm going to "ruffle some feathers” because I'm about to touch the "sacred cow,” but most people who inquire about a church usually ask first, above all else: "What do you have for the kids?" My answer: "We have what they had in the New Testament ... we call them parents.”
Church kids today are entertained to death in church. Do youth need interaction with other Christian kids? Yes, but not during the main worship services. Kids need to be seated with their parents in the main worship services. And there is too much emphasis on youth outings ... ski trips ... ball games ... water balloons ... softball, basketball, and soccer leagues.
Many Christian parents today expect their first line of offense/defense against sin and evil, drugs and alcohol, sexual immorality and perversion, rebellion, and satanic activity to be the youth group. Father, you are to be the spiritual leader of your family. Do you teach your children and youth the Word of God daily, together as a family? Do you lead, read, and discuss the Scripture with them daily? Father, do you lead your family to pray together daily with each member praying aloud one at a time?
Father, do you lead your family to sing Christian songs and to worship Jesus Christ together daily as a family? Father, do you plan activities in your home and on family outings that include some of their Christian friends being invited to come along or be involved so that you, as parents, can have a Christian influence in the lives of their friends as well?
It is not the "youth group" that is going to produce seriously committed kids who love Jesus Christ … it is parents, led by you, father, who teach them daily and live Christ-centered lives, priorities, and values before them.
Deuteronomy 6 has been the spearhead as we raised and discipled our three children, and it is the spearhead with our children as they are raising our seven grandchildren. If you, father, do not love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind, and strength, don't expect a youth group or youth leader to take your place. No, that is not God's design in Scripture.
I am not against youth groups, but keep in mind they are not mentioned in the Bible. Godly parents are. Christian entertainment will not produce holiness and righteousness in your children in place of you. And youth groups and youth pastors and even Christian schools cannot take the place of you as the primary discipler of your children.
It saddens me to see on Facebook pictures of kids who graduated from Christian school sitting in a bar with their "friends" with alcoholic beverages in their hands or living together out of wedlock. Oh, I almost forgot. Don’t over-indulge your kids with these handheld computer games. Trash them. "Who needs Jesus Christ and individual Bible study when “computer games are so much fun (and addictive)?”
America is in a spiritual crisis. Real physical persecution of Christians is just around the corner in this country that is now at war with Jesus Christ and the Bible. Will your children deny Jesus Christ to save their own necks … or yours?
Fathers, it's time to get serious about seeing our children become true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, I know some folks will attempt to put words into my mouth that I did not say. Church programs and interaction with their Christian friends at church are wonderful and needful. But those things cannot take the place of godly parents, led by a committed godly father who points his family toward an intimate love and obedience toward Jesus Christ.
Jim Vail is pastor of First Baptist Church in Baker.