NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rodney was a promising young baseball player. He progressed through the ranks of Little League to become an all-star, with the prospect of a college scholarship and perhaps even a shot at the pros. 

To help him develop his God-given talent, Rodney’s parents sent him to baseball camps and clinics where he could get the best possible coaching. When there was a scheduling conflict between church or youth group activities, baseball always won out even though Rodney began to show a real interest in spiritual things.

At a critical point in Rodney’s life, his father decided it was more important for his son to accept an invitation from a big league manager to a ball game in California than to attend a week of youth camp. In the months that followed, Rodney’s spiritual interest declined, as did his baseball skills. His senior year was a disaster. When he failed to get a college baseball scholarship, disappointment set in and Rodney’s life began to spiral downhill into a cycle of depression and substance abuse.

“Pastor, what happened?” Rodney’s father asked. “I raised my child in a Christian home and in a Bible-based church, but now he wants nothing to do with the church. Doesn’t the Bible promise that if I raise my child in the way he should go, he won’t depart from it?”

In a new book by Broadman & Holman Publishers titled “Parenting with Kingdom Purpose,” authors Ken Hemphill and Richard Ross use the fictional account to reflect the need for a fresh approach to raising children – one that focuses on fulfilling God’s plans for each child’s life and on bringing families closer to each other and to the Lord.

The authors acknowledge that hundreds of parenting books are on the market. However, "Parenting with Kingdom Purpose" is unique in that it details how to parent one’s children with the Kingdom of God in mind. No issue, the authors say, could be more important and central for today’s families.

“We are losing our young people at an alarming rate,” said Hemphill, national strategist for the Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative in the Southern Baptist Convention. “That’s why it was vitally important to write a book that not only explains the importance of parenting children with a Kingdom purpose, but that also provides practical suggestions for how to develop and maintain a Kingdom focus throughout life.”

Last fall, Hemphill introduced a new Empowering Kingdom Growth titled, “A 40 Day Experience: EKG, The Heartbeat of God.” Hemphill noted that the EKG study complements "Parenting with Kingdom Purpose" in that it helps create the desire for mothers and fathers to be Kingdom parents.

Using biblical principles coupled with research findings from the groundbreaking National Study of Youth and Religion, Hemphill and Ross set forth ways Christian parents can shape their children for God’s Kingdom.

One of the first questions "Parenting with Kingdom Purpose" encourages readers to ask themselves is, “What is my child’s purpose on Planet Earth?” Hemphill and Ross explain that before parents can answer this question about their children, they must first answer this question for themselves. Before they can teach their children about God’s desire for holy living, they must first be sure that their lives are lining up with the Father’s character.

“Most children become young adults with a faith similar to their parents, which can be good or bad,” said Ross, one of the founders of the True Love Waits abstinence until marriage campaign and professor of youth ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas. “When parents understand their own purpose in God’s Kingdom, they can then correctly guide their children related to this purpose.