D6 Conference Coming Soon!

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

If you are in ministry with youth, children, families: you don’t want to miss this coming conference.


Some of the speakers:
Rob Rienow: Family Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, IL
Steve Wright: Rethink and ApParent Privilege author, Student Pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC
Randy Stinson: Dean, School of Church Ministries at SBTS, President for Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

From the Pen of Rob Rienow: Parenting and the Church

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

More reading – and passing along the nuggets of truth to you.
I have just finished 3 books by the same author: Rob Rienow, founder (with his wife, Amy) of Visionary Parenting and Family Pastor at Wheaton Bible Church in Wheaton, IL. I have spoken with Rob about ministry and then got to meet him and hear him teach a class at his church in January.
The three books that I have read are:
God’s Grand Vision for the Home
Passing the Torch (just two chapters in a multi-author book)
Visionary Parenting (if I just got one, get this one)

Here are some valuable quotes from him and some personal thoughts:
“delegation parenting” – Love this term. It is what a lot of parents in the world today, even in the church, do to get someone else to teach, train, or discipline, or even just be friends with, their kids.
“What am I doing daily with this power and responsibility to impress the hearts of my kids with a love for God?”
“We need to set the example for our kids by putting ourselves under the authority of the Bible, allowing it to speak to our hearts, and letting our kids us talk about it.” Honestly, I didn’t grow up with this in the home. I went to a Christian school and church, but didn’t have it spoken of much in the home. Not till I went to college and built a relationship with my mentor did this become a reality to me.
“Generation after generation have failed to win the souls of their children.” I have spent the last month in the Old Testament. Many times, even in those genealogies many of us skip over, it speaks of the generations and if the sons followed after the fathers. Lineage, genealogy, and faith were very important to the Israelites.
“Christians (begin) to reflect the secular culture.” When did we do this? Sad but true. We do it in parenting, in clothing, in books/movies. We are called out from the world, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. Back in seminary I had a square postcard on my closet door: The Church is not called to reflect the world, but to change it.
“At the heart of the advance of the Gospel is the call to parents to impress the hearts of their children with a love for God and for His Word.” How does your own life reflect this love? Not only to your children, but also to your co-workers, your extended family, and people you meet in line at the grocery store?
“No one can compete with the power a parent has to shape the heart of a child. Your power to bless your children, to build character in their hearts, and to lead them to faith in Jesus Christ.” See the first quote. The last two episodes of Criminal Minds – by far my favorite show on television – has been about the influence of fathers over their sons. Powerful stuff!
“God never calls us to do something and then abandons us when we seek to be obedient.” This may be helpful to you in any situation you are facing right now. I’ve had to remind myself of this very thing as I get anxious about some changes coming in my life. God is so much more faithful to us than we could ever be to Him. He will not leave you!
“Our kids will remember who we are at home for more than what we accomplish in our work and activities outside our home.”
“One of the subtle ways the enemy pulls parents away from their primary life mission of passing faith to their children is to get them over-involved at church.” Wow. This was a power statement for me.

If you are a parent, work with parents, want to be a parent, know any parents (yes, I think that could just about include everyone who reads this blog), pick up these books. I think Visionary Parenting is a good overview and very convicting. These books have great theology, are packed with personal experience, advice, and practical tips, and are loaded with Scripture.

Book Review: Perspectives on Family Ministry

posted in: Uncategorized | 2

I went to First Baptist Church, Plant City, FL for most of my high school years. Tommy Warnock had such an amazing impact on my life in areas of discipleship, leadership, and missions. His faithfulness in ministry and love for others was contagious. I’m so glad God put me there; much of the future of my life was rooted in that one decision to go to that church.
Time span: 1995 (graduation) to 2010 (now). I have grown in knowledge of the Word and the turns and styles of ministry. Being in many churches since high school graduation and attending seminary, and now working at a seminary has definitely had an impact on how I think about and am active in ministry.
This book highlights one of the latest “styles” in how to do children and youth ministry. 5-10 years ago no one would have had a conversation about family-integrated, family-based, or family-equipping ministry models. I read Mark Devries‘ book Family-Based Youth Ministry in college as I minored in youth ministry, and applied it to the youth ministry in which I was working. I quickly forgot what I read and couldn’t tell you one underlined statement from that book – but I remember its implications.
The youth ministry staff I was on was a thriving youth ministry, boasted the largest youth ministry in St. Augustine. I loved teaching the Word every week to 70+ middle schoolers, playing games, going on ski-trips, having 5 middle-school girls sledding down my stairs on a mattress – those were the times. I love those girls I had in their youth group years. I love the parents who participated in the youth group, went on the same trips, loved teenagers, taught Sunday School, cooked brownies. They were so cool. But I also remember the parents who whipped through the parking lot of the church (dodging the kids shooting baskets or skateboarding) to drop their kids off for youth group by 6.10pm. I pray I had an impact on the lives of those girls. My first discipleship opportunity with a young lady was amazing and life-changing for both of us as we enjoyed dinner with her family every week one summer and then studied a Max Lucado book together upstairs. I loved that time. She is thriving in life and ministry right now. But, I guarantee that has more to do with the fact that she has parents who model a life of following Christ every day than that one summer I had with her, Wed night youth group meetings, ski trips, and Sunday School classes.
Anyway…this discussion of style of ministry is fairly new. When I started working at Southern Seminary in Fall 2007, the first I ever heard of this was because Steve Wright wrote a book entitled RE:Think. Timothy Jones and Randy Stinson continued the conversation and were teaching principles based on the Word, and dubbed “Family-equipping model”. This is the culture I have been immersed in over the last 2.5 years. This has provided me much to think about and wrestle with. This is what I have come up with.
God created the family – Gen 2
God gave the mandate to the parents for discipling their children – Dt 6
God gave the ministry of equipping the saints to the pastors – Eph 4
The call of disciples of Christ is to evangelize the world – Matt 28.

This book, edited by Dr. Timothy Jones, with authors Paul Renfro, Brandon Shields, and Jay Strother, is a good introduction to these three models (mentioned at the beginning of this) and gives the reader much food for thought. This book would be extremely helpful to people training for ministry, or for church staffers looking at making a change to existing ministries.
Personally, I thought Renfro’s was the strongest argument, Jay Strother’s was the most practical, and Shield’s was the weakest. That doesn’t mean anything – that may just be the style of writing. I liked the humble dialogue between the authors as they brought out points that most readers may not have thought of while they worked through the styles of ministry.
Here are some quotes from the book:
“Church programs have usurped a responsibility that Scripture and church history place first and foremost at the feet of parents.” – Jones, 21
“Family ministry is not another church program that a pastor can add to the present array of programs.” – Jones, 41
Jones definitely accomplishes his task with this book: “My goal is not to convince readers that one of these models is better than the others. I do want to equip them with the knowledge needed to discern which model might work best in their congregation.” – 45
“Who is better able to discern the condition of their children’s hearts and to know if true repentance has occurred than those who live with them every day? The home is the best context for discipleship.” – Renfro, 63
“Could it be that family-integrated churches so heavily emphasize traditional family structures that they subtly give non-traditional families the impression they are second-class citizens?” – Strother, 86
“When attempting to reach another culture, there is a fine line between relevance and accommodation.” – Shields, 110
“So many American families are merely a shell of what God created them to be. In such families each family member has personal agendas and schedules; homes are merely pit stops for the washing of clothes, the provision of food, and a few hours of sleep.” – Renfro, 121
“In the typical church it will require significant changes not only in the message communicated to parents but also in the church’s internal paradigms to send a loud and clear message that parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s discipleship.” – Strother, 129
“We must go where they are, preach to them in their language, compel them to come to Jesus, and consistently create attractive environments where persons from any background can grow in their relationship with Jesus.” – Shields, 137
Why must we create attractive environments? That is my area of disagreement with the above statement.
“Family-equipping ministry must represent the congregation’s convictions about the entire nature of church and ministry.” – Strother, 161.
This is not merely a youth ministry question – this is an entire church life question.

My thoughts: I am not a parent. I have been in youth ministry/college ministry/kids ministry now for 15 years. This has given me much view of typical American families. I see failures and successes. Not every teenager that comes out of a intact, Bible-believe home is a radical Christ follower. Not every teen that comes out of a divorced, broken home is a loser who wants nothing to do with Christ. This isn’t a 100% no-fail solution. God is still in charge of radically changing the lives of sinners like me. He called parents though, Christian parents, to disciple their children in the ways of God. The church is called to equip and evangelize. Evangelize the lost, and disciple them to do what they are called to do. One of the things they are called to do, if parents, is to disciple their own children.
Much more is to be discussed on this topic: broken families, single parents, single adults, etc. But…this isn’t my dissertation on the topic of family ministry. This is my response from reading Jones’ book on it.
I am thankful for all 4 authors as three of them have had a personal impact on my life and ministry and all 4, through this book, have made me think.

John Angell James – On Usefulness

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

Hand it to the guys who lived and preached in the 1800s. John Angell James was a preacher and prolific writer in England.
A friend passed this along to me today, thought I would share it with you:

“I set out in my ministry, even when a student, with the idea of usefulness so deeply imprinted on my heart, and so constantly present to my thoughts, that I could never lose sight of it long together: and I mean a usefulness of one kind – that is the direct conversion of souls …
The press is one of the two main pillars of the temple of truth. So in the conversion of souls, though the pulpit is the main instrument of effecting this, yet the tract distributor, the Sunday-school teacher, the Bible reader, are all useful, and every person should study his talents, his means, and his opportunities for usefulness.”

Questions for thought:
1. How has God gifted you to be useful?
2. How are you currently using this usefulness, or honing those skills to be useful in the future?
3. How is the rest of your life arranged to keep this usefulness useful (life management)?

Book Review: Shepherding a Child's Heart – Tedd Tripp

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

I’ve learned two things (and more) from being in seminary and now having worked/working at 2 seminaries:
1. You can have a lot of practical expertise and not know any theology.
2. You can know TONS of theology and not be able to put it into practice well.

Tedd Tripp has authored a book that is good at both. He gives you the theology behind good parenting; and he gives you very practical follow-through so apply this theology.
What I love about this book: (the above paragraph), I love his humility (he and his wife do not have it all together), and his accomplishment of the task at hand – instructing parents how to not only target their children’s actions, but how to reach their hearts – to shepherd their hearts.
“Your concern is to unmask your child’s sin, helping him to understand how it reflects a heart that has strayed. That leads to the cross of Christ. It underscores the need for a Savior.” (p 6)Tripp spends the first half of the book laying the foundation to parenting, shepherding, Scripture, etc. “You need to direct not simply the behavior of your children, but the attitudes of their hearts.” (p xxi) Then the second half, he gives very practical advice for different stages of child-rearing: toddlers, children, teenagers. I found these extremely helpful – even as I think back about my youth ministry days and think ahead as I volunteer in the church and even babysit. These are great truths and principles to be adopted.
I went to a Christian school from K-12th grade, only missing one semester. I remember a conversation my mom had when we were talking about one of the trouble makers in my grade. She said something to the effect that her parents probably sent her to this school in hopes that they would “straighten her out”. Tripp makes a similar comment in the opening of this book: “They had hoped that school would provide the direction and motivation they had not been able to provide for their daughter.” (p xvii) The school nor the church have been given the role of chief discipler/parent in your child’s life. You have been given that role (see Deut 6).
“You want the values of your home to be scripturally informed.” (p 22) I saw this lived out in my mentor’s home. Scripture was every where. Itunes was on to the latest Christian praise and worship. But that wasn’t all – conversations were lined with biblical thought, ministry was front and center, relationships were key. All pointing to Scripture. Another one of my friends, Kathy, has as her ministry Scripture Pictures, because she wants to get the Word into as many homes as possible. She does beautiful hand drawn Scripture in art. Amazing woman!
My former professor, Dr. Alvin Reid, at SEBTS, says this: “It is vital that we incorporate the gospel into every fabric of our lives. Our interaction with our neighbors should bring glory to God and communicate Christ to those who need him.”
“Parenting is a pervasive task.” (p 33) Recently, I heard a radio interview with Sandra Bullock, star of The Blind Side. She said, “Being a mother is easy, all you have to do is love”. While there may be some truth in that, there are far deeper implications for parenting than just love. I don’t think I have ever heard a parent say that parenting is easy.
Some would say the best way to raise a child is to shelter them from society. Tripp says this: “You must equip your children to function in a culture that has abandoned the knowledge of God. Your objective in every context must be to set a biblical worldview before your children.” (p 45, 6)
“You must bring integrity to your interaction with your children. You model the dynamics of the Christian life for your children. You must let them see sonship with the Father in you. You should show them repentance. Acknowledge your joys and fears and how you find comfort in God. Live a shared life of repentance and thankfulness. Acknowledge your own sin and weakness. Admit when you are wrong. Be prepared to seek forgiveness for sinning against your children. The right to make searching and honest appraisal of your children lies in willingness to do the same for yourself.” (p 91)
“You must address the heart as the fountain of behavior, and the conscience a the God-given judge of right and wrong. The cross of Christ must be the central focus of your child rearing. God’s standard is correct behavior flowing from a heart that loves God and has God’s glory as the sole purpose of life. That is not native to your children (nor to their parents).” (p. 120)
“Whatever you do will require patience. It is hard for a family to change its direction. What is ahead of you is a matter of spiritual struggle against the forces of evil. There is more to it than applying some principles. Pray; seek God’s help. Wait on God. Study the Scriptures with your children. Try to take them along with you on your spiritual pilgrimage. Share with them what you’re learning and why changes in your family life are important.” (p 158)
“If you never address the character, you will never get beyond bare obedience.” (p 163)
“The primary context for parental instruction is set forth in Deuteronomy 6. It is the ordinary context of daily living. Your children see the power of a life of faith as they see you living it. You do not need to be perfect, you simply need to be people of integrity who are living life in the rich, robust truth of the Word of God.” (p 192)

With every book there are drawbacks:
1. All the illustrations. They are great, but for some they will try to live out these truths and principles in the exact same way – or they won’t be able to live these out at all because they won’t get past the illustration. Way to succeed: ask God how you need to apply these truths to your family, don’t rely on the family of the Tripps to be successful.
2. “God intends for parenting to be a temporary task.” (p 210) I disagree with this statement. Yes, you might not discipline them the same or help them make every decision, but my parents are still my parents. They help me in many ways: to make wise decisions, to give me advice, to help financially some, to be friends with; but they are still my parents.

This book is very helpful. If you haven’t read it, please do.