Written by: Rev. Mark Colwell
Friday July 31, 2015 was an amazing moment for our family! We found ourselves at The Legacy Centre, an outreach facility operated by Christ Tabernacle in Queens NYC! We spent a good portion of the day serving alongside their volunteers who weekly gather supplies for those in poverty and then on Fridays allow people to walk through their warehouse and gather supplies for their households. We spent our time walking with people as they perused the shelves, helping them find what they needed or assisting them to get materials to their vehicles or to the curb to await transportation home. Many of the families were recent arrivals to New York, immigrants attempting to establish themselves in a new country. Others were simply people in difficulty, needing some basic supplies for life at home! The impact of this ministry was obvious to me and as we grabbed the subway towards the place we were staying there was a deep sense of joy in our little crew. Later that day as we chewed on an amazing slice of Brooklyn pizza, we debriefed about our adventure. Jenni and I longed to get to this place with our kids, a place where we lead them into service after preparing them to grow deeper in Christ.
Our journey to NYC actually began in January 2015 when we challenged our children to get involved in a systematic discipleship process. This process involved their committing to daily written devotions, weekly assigned reading and writing as well as weekly family discussion and prayer. We made an offer to our kids that if they participated in this process we would bring them on an epic adventure that would combine service and fun! We met weekly to discuss the things they discovered in Scripture or in the book they were reading, in this case they read ‘A Case for Christ,’ a book that is centred on basic beliefs about Jesus. Our weekly meetings lasted a hour or so, after a time of discussion we would turn to prayer. Let me admit that these meetings were at times chaotic and frustrating but there were other moments that were amazing and powerful. I think Jesus can relate! Consider the moments he had attempting to shape his own followers!
Jesus committed to intentionally investing in those followers and it is clear that we as parents are called/commanded to do the same thing! Too often we default to the church to disciple our own children when in fact we as parents have far more influence over our kid’s lives. They are watching us, they are looking at our lives and our lives are making a statement or just what our faith is worth to us.
I suggest to you that God is calling you to intentionally disciple your own kids. He modelled intentionality so that we would follow his example. He led the original disciples into life altering adventure and along the way he made significant investments in their growth. Please don’t think you are not equipped, you are called and if you lead your family deeper you will grow as well! Just attempting to disciple your children will be an adventure!
As I wrap this up let me suggest that I believe adventure is the great missing piece in the lives of most believers in our culture. In fact if you asked me why we lose many of our kids from the church I would suggest boredom and a lack of ownership to be a leading cause. Too often instead of participating in the adventure of Kingdom life, many people simply attend church out of obligation and take it in the presentation. We were not created for attending, we were creating for purpose. Your kids and mine were constructed by God with energy and gifts that they are called to use on an adventure with HIM! What if you decide to lead them deeper into faith and towards life altering adventure? Dream of what God made them to be and don’t wait for others to be their deepest spiritual influence. It isn’t easy but seeing my kids step up and serve is a deeply fulfilling reality! I do dream that God is going to use them in incredible ways, in truth I am seeing God use them now! Jenni and I are learning as we go. We are keenly imperfect parents but we refuse to allow excuses to keep us from trying to lead. I believe that is all God expects from us, that we try, that we lead our families towards Him. May God help you lead your family forward toward Him and towards the adventure He has constructed for you!
Mark Colwell serves as the District Youth Ministries Director in Western Ontario for the PAOC. He is married to Jenni and has 4 beautiful kids. He has pastored for over 22 years and at the present time spends most of his energy coaching other youth ministry pastors and leaders. Mark remains passionate about discipleship, leadership development and mission.