David de Bruyn of New Covenant Baptist Church in Johannesburg is a Biblical and deeply thought-provoking writer. I learn so much and am so encouraged by reading the articles on his blog. I have been so inspired by his articles on Pre-Evangelism for Your Children that I decided to do a series summarizing (or writing in my own words) this series. I am sure I don’t do his writings justice so please read the real thing – but for what its worth, here is my version with some of my own thoughts and applications added.
Statistics tell us that 6 out of 10 children who grow up in Evangelical churches abandon the faith completely in or before their 20’s and do not return even when they have children – they are effectively abandoning the faith – a faith that was probably never very real or meaningful to them. They abandon the faith either by word or by action or both.
There are many possible reasons for this – watered-down ineffective youth programmes, age-segragation in the churches, lack of headship and leadership by the father’s in the homes, entertainment media that draws hearts away from God and is used in many youth programs in place of the Word of God. But there is something more to consider… a child is not an empty slate but everything in their childhood will contribute to their ‘openness to’ or ‘rejection of’ – Christ and the gospel message. What is written on a child’s pages will contribute much to their desire to believe God and to be a faithful disciple of Christ. How a child responds to truths such as “Jesus is the Son of God”, “Hell really exists” and “God is deserving of our love and devotion, awe and reverence”, will be shaped by their “filter” of interpretations, feelings and thoughts even before they fully understand these truths.
As seen in the parable of the sower, our children’s hearts can be likened to a farmer’s soil – whether the ground the seed falls upon is rocky, thorny, shallow or fertile will be influenced by how we as parents raise, disciple, train and teach our children.
God’s grace and redemptive power can overcome the lack of preparation of that soil – and without God’s grace and power, the preparation is meaningless – BUT God chooses to use parents to prepare the soil of a child’s heart.
One of the best ways of preparing the soil of our children’s hearts is prayer. We need to pray daily and fervently for our children and for God’s wisdom and guidance as their parents. God is pleased to work in good fertile soil.
Here is the crux of the matter: many 20 or 30-something people today are abandoning the faith because their upbringing was primarily a secular one – filled with lusts and entertainment that drew their hearts from God – with a thin layer of Biblical facts over the top.
As the Word fails to take root in the hostile soil of their hearts, they are forced to reevaluate their beliefs and bit by bit – throw out the thin layer of facts that they once believed.
The question is – how is the soil made fertile – or hostile? What is a parent’s role in the child’s life? What does the Bible say about how to teach, train, disciple and love our children so that the soil of their hearts will be receptive to the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives?
What a privilege that God uses us as parents in our children’s lives and what an awesome responsibility that should evoke the fear of God in our lives and our parenting!
Part 2 – More Than Facts
“But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” Matthew 13 v 23