In recent decades, churches have typically engaged others by offering events. Although the specifics look different, children and student events generally have some food, a fun game, and a catchy name. In many ways, events have become the “go-to” tool for churches to engage others in their community. And, I am personally thankful for many of these events.
- God used Vacation Bible Schools to convict my heart about my need to become a follower of Jesus
- God used Disciple Nows to increase my love for him
- God used swim parties to foster friendships
Yet, as helpful and impactful as these and many other events can be, none of them are essential. Simply consider the fact that churches all over the world have little or no opportunity to organize these unique events because of limited resources or persecution. (Take two minutes to read this article if you are struggling to be thankful during the coronavirus)! Beyond that, churches throughout history (and many throughout the world today) could not have even imagined the resources that God has entrusted to many Western churches in the 21st century!
Lest you think I am suggesting Woolsey Baptist Church jettison all events for all time, I am not. God not only used many of them in my life personally, I am confident he has and continues to use events to glorify his name, win the lost, and build up his church!
With that said, COVID-19 has prompted Woolsey Baptist Church and countless other churches to re-strategize how to accomplish our mission. Since we will not host Vacation Bible School this summer, how will we reach boys and girls with the gospel? Because Connect Groups will not meet until August, how will we teach and train children?
I propose to you that the most effective and reproduceable way to know Christ and make him known happens through gospel-centered relationships, such as a husband and wife, parent and child, coworker, teammate, neighbor, or classmate.
I am extremely thankful for some highly dedicated preschool and children’s leaders at WBC that have creatively continued reaching out to kids with the gospel and training them to know, love, and follow Jesus! If you have not taken time to thank them, please do so! But do more than just say, “Thank you” to these leaders—courageously lead yourself!
In their classic book on leadership Kouzes and Posner write, “There’s no escape. Leadership is everyone’s business. No matter what your position is, you have to take responsibility for the quality of leadership your constituents [think children] get” (The Leadership Challenge). The truth is, these authors did not originate this idea—God did! If you are a Christian parent, never forget that God calls you to lead your children (Deut 6:7). If you are a Christian, remember that the Lord instructs you to lead others (Matt 28:18-20). If you are a member of Woolsey Baptist Church, keep in mind our church covenant, when we agree, “We will endeavor to maintain family and personal devotions, to bring up all who are under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends.”
Will you join me this summer through intentionally connecting with a family member, friend or neighbor, as we engage others without offering events?
If you would like to learn more about God’s design for parents to train their children, check out a Barna Research study called, “Parents Accept Responsibility for Their Child’s Spiritual Development But Struggle With Effectiveness” along with William Farley’s book, Gospel-Powered Parenting: How the Gospel Shapes and Transforms Parenting (P&R Publishing 2009).