If you’ve been around the church any period of time, you’ve most likely heard what Jesus called the “greatest commandment.” He laid it out for us in the New Testament; to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Sounds familiar, right? Jesus wasn’t just making this up on the spot, He in fact was referencing the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, chapter 6, a passage in Hebrew known as the Shema. Do you, however, know what immediately follows this charge to love God with everything we have? Verse 7 continues on to say…teach this diligently to your children.
Now, before we get into this, I wanted to share an illustration…consider this, you are put in charge of preparing all the meals for your family for one week (some of you out there aren’t having to think too hard, you already do this EVERY week!). Let’s say for one week you have to plan, make a list, go shopping, prepare, and then cook the food. You want your meals to be filling, healthy, and of course taste great. This takes a lot of forethought and hard work. Thankfully you have tools to help you be successful, even for the most novice of cooks! You have cookbooks and websites to help you with recipes and technique, you have grocery stores where you can purchase your food, and, of course, it doesn’t hurt to work on your craft by practicing the art of cooking. This I can relate to because cooking is one of my absolute favorite things to do.
So what does this have to do with parenting? In the illustration, in an effort to provide healthy, tasty food for your family, there are tools and instructions available for you to be successful. For parents, there should also be tools and resources available to help you achieve this important calling of spiritually investing in your kids…enter the role of the local church.
As a Kid’s Pastor, for years and years, I’ve heard it said, that the primary goal of any Kid’s Ministry is to partner with parents to help them become the primary spiritual disciplers of their kids. It is the church’s role to come alongside parents, to partner with you in this Christian parenting journey. A Kid’s Ministry does not exist to entertain your kids for an hour on Sunday mornings, but to support parents, to share resources, as well as provide fun and engaging environments for your kids to hear and understand the truth of God’s Word.
At GCKids, we do work hard to stay connected and, yes, we have weekly parent guides to accompany our curriculums that serve as follow-ups and discussion starters. However, a few years ago, God really convicted my heart that if we are going to say that partnering with parents is important enough to be a part of our Kid’s Ministry mission statement, then we better actually do something meaningful about it.
Well, last fall, GCKids launched a brand-new mid-week program, not just for kids, but for the entire family called “Family Fuel.” Our primary goal at Family Fuel is to help parents create healthy spiritual rhythms at home, and we do this by creating an environment where, at least once a week, kids can observe Mom and Dad modeling spiritual leadership. We provide the tools and resources, but parents take the lead. And yes, of course, there are games and loud music, but the primary vision is to give parents a recipe book of tools to, as Deuteronomy 6 tells us, diligently teach our kids to love God with all they have.
Now, obviously Family Fuel is not the entire cookbook to help you become the parent God has intended you to be. It is, however, simply a recipe, a tool in your belt to better equip you. In fact, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, a time without Sunday School and other weekly gatherings, we have worked hard to load up our website with additional tools and resources to help you better engage with your kids and families in this time. Remember God has called you, parents, to take the lead. It is the church’s role to teach, equip, and support you in this journey. So how can I (or we) help you on this journey? Are there any specific tools or resources you would really appreciate as a parent? If so, I’d honestly love to know about it. We have a Kid’s Ministry staff that would be thrilled to walk with you and to help wherever we are able. We can’t be the whole cookbook, but we sure would love to be that killer go-to meal you can always count on to help you and your family draw nearer to Jesus.
– Pastor Jamie