Psalm 78:4 says, “we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done”
On the 19 November 2013, English newspapers reported that the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey told a conference in Shropshire that more must done to attract young people into the Church. He warned that the Church of England was just “one generation away from extinction”. At first glance this is a shocking statement, enough to alarm any committed Christian. However if we stop to think about it for a moment, this has ALWAYS been the case. Every generation has the task of passing the baton of faith from one generation to the next. It doesn’t matter if fewer than 1% of your generation has faith, or if over 99% does, if your generation does not succeed in passing the gospel on to the next generation then the church will become extinct. Sad news? – well the other side of that coin is that every generation has the chance to see complete worldwide revival in just one generation! You and I have it in our hands to be catalysts for revival, if we can succeed in teaching our children (and our children’s children – Deuteronomy 4:9), then there is the potential for the entire world to be transformed with the power of the Gospel!
As a father, I can testify that it IS possible to successfully impart your faith to your children. I have three (now grown up) daughters, all of whom have chosen to live the life of faith in Christ for themselves. I am now a grandfather and every hope that my grandchildren will have every opportunity of hearing the good news of Jesus Christ as they grow up. The next generation in my family is secure, and the one after that has every chance of following their grandparents into glory! However else I have failed over the years, I have succeeded in this most important task of leading my own family to the Lord.
I believe that children do not become what we teach them, they become what we are, so if we want to successfully pass the Gospel to the next generation, how we live will be of profound importance. Here are some keys that I have learned will show them our faith is worth adopting for themselves …
Integrity – Your children see you at home and when out in public. Be the same in both places – be the same at home when the door is closed (and no one else is watching) as you are when you are at church in the sanctuary with the whole church watching. When I was a child, my own father used to say (in jest I hope!) “do as I say, not as I do”. If we are hypocrites (and Jesus had some hard things to say to the hypocrites!) by saying one thing and doing another, our children will learn that our faith has no value to us, that it is just something for show, and they will follow our example.
Consistency – Going on a short-term mission or evangelistic trip (which we should all consider doing by the way) and being spiritual there, is easy. For just a couple of weeks we can pray every morning, have a quiet time, bite our tongues and in essence behave ourselves, thereby giving the impression that all is well in “the heart of me”. Our children live with us for many years, they will watch our faith being tested by the passing of time. It is a different matter to consistently maintain our faith over years than it is to do it for just a few weeks. Sooner or later what is really in our hearts will show in our actions. A life lived consistently over time with Jesus will reap rewards.
Reality – I am a numpty (look it up in a dictionary!), every day I make mistakes, every day I let my Lord down. Over the years, even when it was painful I tried not to hide those mistakes from my children, where appropriate, I allowed them to see me walk before the Lord “warts and all”, they saw my struggles, my doubts and my failings, and they watched as I gained victory over them, as I found forgiveness at the cross when I failed, as I picked myself up, dusted myself down and carried on walking with my Saviour. They saw that this walk of faith is not a gravy train, but it is a life worth living, and they chose to live it!
The bottom line is this:
If we show our children by the way we live that our faith has no value to us, why are we surprised if they choose not to follow it?
If you want your children to adopt your faith then live it yourself!
The decision of course is their own, between them and the Lord, but its up to you to give them the best chance of understanding how that decision can be lived out in everyday life.
The ministry of Christ for India sees the value in children, and recognises that when we teach children and young people the values of the gospel and when we introduce them to a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are sowing seeds for family, community and national transformation! Many of the children there have no Christian parents to show them the walk of faith, and without the witness of the Titus family and the staff of the school, faculty and the ministry there, they would not see what joy and peace a life lived with Jesus can bring. They would have no example of faith to watch and be inspired by, they would have no chance of being rescued from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. Christ for India brings hope of victory, the victory that comes when just one lost person comes to faith (Luke 15:10). But with that hope for each child, it also brings hope for a nation, because as Jameson Titus, the President of CFI has said, the future of a nation lies with its children. Investing in the ministry of Christ for India could just be the seed that brings transformation and introduces the gospel to the whole of that great nation. I would ask you to remember Christ for India in your prayers, to consider practically or financially investing in the ministry, or even to coming with us on a short-term mission trip to experience for yourself the great work they do.
You can find out more about the ministry of Christ for India at www.christforindia.co.uk