Having been raised in church since I was born, I had heard about Jesus and the gospel since day one. It’s all I’d ever known.
I can vaguely remember kneeling at my mom’s bedside at the age of 4, praying a prayer, and making a ‘profession of faith’. However, my profession never extended beyond my knowledge, because the gospel had never changed me. I had never truly been born again.
However, when I was 12 years old, The gospel become very real to me personally. God began doing a work of conviction in my heart, and it was at that time that I allowed the gospel’s transformational power to change me, as I genuinely called upon the name of the Lord to be saved.
Our kids KNOW the Gospel…
Most kids raised in church have the privilege of being used to hearing the gospel. In fact, they know it so well they could probably recite it forwards and backwards. They’re told about God’s love and how Jesus died for them even while they’re still in diapers in the nursery.
And as they grow, they hear it taught in Sunday School and in Children’s Church. And they’re even able to quote verses from the Roman’s Road. They hear regularly about the amazing power of the gospel to change lives. And this is a good thing.
And yet… many of them grow up so accustomed to the gospel that its familiarity has the underlying potential to breed an inadvertent apathy towards it, to the point that it often has little to no impact upon their everyday lives. Many of them having either never experienced the transformational power of the gospel firsthand in their own lives, or having never allowed it to transform every facet of their daily lives and choices.
So what is one of the GREATEST DANGERS facing our Christian young people today?…
The gospel is so common that it just becomes old hat, and as a result, one of the greatest dangers facing our Christian kids is this – they’ve gotten “used to” the gospel.
What God intended to radically transform ours and our children’s thinking and living, actually has the potential to become all too familiar, all too fast, to the point that we forget (at least by our actions) that the gospel is the one thing God has given us to change both ourselves and to change the world around us. (Rom. 1:16, Eph. 2:1-10)
God’s plan has always been that the gospel would shape our identity, determine our priorities, and affect every decision we make in life (about what we say, how we react, what we listen to, where we go, who we associate with, etc.)
A driving PASSION of their life, or just a PART of their life?…
The gospel was never meant to be compartmentalized into just a part of our lives, but rather, that there be no part of our lives that remains untouched by the gospel.
The gospel is meant to define life for us, while at the same time defining us for life.
It is not to be a casual part of life, but rather a commitment that requires our willingness to die for it, and even more importantly, our passion to live for it throughout the process of everyday, ordinary life.
Yet, so often, if we’re not intentional, our kids (and ourselves) can get so used to the gospel that it becomes more of a necessary evil of life rather than a transformational reason for living. It becomes simply another relic added to the shelf of our family traditions, rather than the entire foundation upon which our children build their very lives.
Let’s face it… we all know “Christians” who’s priorities and decisions give little to no indication of real or dramatic life change because of the gospel. However, have we ever stopped to consider that this could be happening in our own homes and in the hearts and lives of our own children? Just because ours is a “Christian” family, does not give us any guarantees. Because life change for our children requires much more than just a label.
My wife and I now have 2 teenagers in our house (please pray for us). And although I’m thankful that my kids have grown up hearing the gospel all of their lives, I don’t ever want them to “get used to the gospel”. I want it first to change them through the power of salvation, but then also through the ongoing process of sanctification, and allowing the gospel to be the filter through which they view every detail of their daily lives.
So how is a Christian parent to do this?… That is, raise “Christian” kids who don’t get over the fact they are Christians?
While ultimately, we know that this requires the supernatural touch of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives (first and foremost through salvation), here are some practical ways and ideas we’ve tried as parents to help our kids, and especially our teens, to never “get used to” the life-changing, transformational power of the gospel.
- Send them on a mission’s trip. Our oldest two children were able to be a part of a mission’s trip to Grenada last summer, and it was a life-changing experience for both of them. I’m convinced that there is very little else that has the potential to change a teenager’s perspective about their purpose in the world and in God’s kingdom than to put them into such an environment of less. Sending your child on a mission’s trip forces them to come face to face with the reality of what really matters in life.
- Expose them to the lost. If we’re not careful, we can easily over-insulate our children from the lost world to the point of isolating them from it as well. Our children desperately need to see firsthand just how greatly they are needed for the cause of the gospel. Because our children will rarely ever have a burden to reach others with the gospel if they aren’t ever surrounded by or exposed to others who desperately need it. Whether you encourage your kids to make friends with unsaved neighbors, those at school, or witness publicly together as a family, find ways to expose your kids to the lost world all around them. Our two oldest recently detasselled for the first time, and our son often enjoys paint-balling at a local course. Both of these exposures have been an eye-opening experience for them of the sinful lifestyles and lost condition of many teenagers today. In addition, it’s also given them a burden for these same people. (As always, use discretion as the parent for what you know to be best for your specific child, and never use this as justification for allowing your children to be regularly surrounded by worldly influences).
- Help surround them with other people whose lives have been changed by the gospel. Nothing motivates us to be changed by the gospel as much as rubbing shoulders with others whose lives have been, and are actively being, changed by the gospel.
- Challenge them to read, read, and read some more. Start by motivating them to get into the Word of God for themselves so that the Bible becomes real to them during this crucial age of the teenage years. Also, give them some good books to read. Here’s a great book my wife and I recently bought for our two teens and required them to read – This Changes Everything: How The Gospel Transforms the Teen Years.
- Require them to be involved in serving in their local church. If they aren’t serving when they’re a teen, why should we expect that they’ll be serving or passionate about the gospel when they’re an adult and out of our home? There’s a reason why 50% of our “Christian” young people are leaving the church once they leave high school. And a big part of it is because the gospel has never become real to them either practically or personally while they were still at home. They’ve never learned to possess their own faith.
- Never “get used to” the Gospel as a parent yourself. If the gospel has not truly transformed not only your soul, but your everyday life and choices, don’t expect it to transform your children any more than you have allowed it to first transform you. Because more than your kids will become what you say, they will become who you are.
“The greatest way for the gospel to change the hearts and lives of children is for it first to change the heart and lives of their parents.”
Once our children’s lives become radically changed and defined by the gospel, so many other details of their life and future fall into place concerning their priorities and decisions.
We have been put “in trust with the gospel” and its life-changing power, for ourselves, our children, and the lost all around us. (I Thess. 2:4) May we never take that lightly. And may we never “get used to it.”
Do you agree that this is one of the greatest dangers facing our Christian young people today? Feel free to let me know. I’d love to hear from you.