Developing a Multi-Generational Vision, Part 1
- 2002 9 Aug
Gods method of discipleship is a beautiful process to observe in action. It is, simply put, applying Gods powerful and living truths in close relationships. We must not fail to pass on the knowledge of God and a vision for His redemptive plan.
Consider Gods instructions to His people, the very first time He spoke to us on these matters:
Now this is the commandment, which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them...so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, and that your days may be prolonged...And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might...And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart...and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9)
Gods plan is accomplished over generations through heart-level relationships that are nurtured in everyday life. This is real discipleship and it needs to be rediscovered in the church today. While Deuteronomy 6 is a widely recognized passage, it is often under-used. It is a much richer passage than people give it credit for. Actually, about three-fourths of the passage is commonly overlooked. People normally focus on verses 7-9, which describe that parents are to teach their children as they rise up, lie down, and walk by the way. Forgotten are the other principles that when added to verses 7-9 make a complete model for discipleship.
From Deuteronomy 6 we learn that all parents "home educate." While some parents home school, all parents, even all members of Gods household "home educate!" By itself this maxim is a dramatic tool for building unity and leaders within Gods household.
Many household leaders do not see themselves as educators of their children because the word "education" has been redefined by our culture to describe a purely academic, programmed process. This, coupled with the fact that for almost a century parents have been sending their children off to school every day, has had a deleterious effect upon parents understanding of themselves as home-educators or home-disciplers. As a result, fundamental needs like character, growth, morality, biblical virtue, and healthy relationship are not seen as part of the education process.
Education is no longer a process of learning how to learn, or learning how to be a spiritually mature person; instead, it has been reduced to the refinement of marketable skills, and the teaching of a worldview that is diametrically opposed to the Judeo-Christian view.
Christian home "education" of any sort is a process that has as its goal the passing on of a God-honoring heritage from one generation to the next. Successful training of generations is training our children to train their children. This provides an understandable motive for our children to know why we are doing what we do. Whether we intend to or not, how we train our children does indeed set the stage for how they will train their children.
Let us examine the first part of Gods plan to raise up household leaders. You and I have the chance to reach generations after us and to steer the course of our household for years to come. From the beginning, Gods plan has been to bring redemption to His people and creation at large. Man was created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The first picture of mankind that God gives us in His Word is one of being without sin and thus in harmony with God. Adam and his wife, Eve, were to serve God as described in Genesis 1:28b-30: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; rule over every living thing that moves on the earth.'"
Of course we know the tragedy that followed in Adam and Eves sin. Immediately, God injected hope ... and gave the first outlines of His redemptive plan.
Genesis 3:15 says, "And I will put enmity between [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head and you shall bruise him on the heel." This is a promise that the evil deeds of the serpent will not ultimately triumph over Gods plan. The triumph of God will come through the bearing of children (generations). One man (Jesus Christ) would come from the seed of the woman and destroy the works of the serpent--and we, His brothers and sisters, were to continue Gods work after Him.
The spiritual training of children is an irreplaceable element in Gods redemptive plan. Children are designed to carry on the redemptive legacy of their parents--passing on the knowledge and works of God to others. Thus, the household, Gods unit for bringing redemption to man, was established first in Adams household.
Today more than ever, households need the help of church relationships to pass Gods redemptive plan on to their children. Perhaps there has never been an opportunity for the church to impact future generations as there is today.
In my next article, we will examine the work God did in, and through, the households He called, so that we can understand both the importance of Gods plan for households and the works we can accomplish over generations. Eric is president of the Institute for Uniting Church and Home, a non-profit ministry which assists church leaders and families in existing churches in developing a family-integrated vision as well as a transition plan to achieve it. His book, Uniting Church and Home: A Blueprint for Rebuilding Church presents a vision for how the church can build family relationships and replace age-segregated programs with heart-level relationships as the primary method of ministry. Eric speaks at conferences, seminars, and home- school groups across the country. He is a board member for the Home Educators Association of Virginia and has served as a staff writer for Mary Prides, Practical Homeschooling magazine. He and his wife, Leslee, have three children.