Core Value #3: Intentional Compassion

Posted: March 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” ~ James 1:27

The Lord intends for the family to be the primary environment for spiritual growth and the parents to be the primary teachers for their children. The church is the place where the whole family is equipped with knowledge and training for life and godliness. There is basically no division between church and family. One flows into the other.

Our church’s primary focus is to equip the family. In other words, the church is not a surrogate parent to primarily teach children the truths of God, while the biological parents do everything else.  The church is an equipping center where we equip not only children and students, but we primarily equip parents who then are the God-called teachers of their children. 

However, what about those children and students whose parents do not lead their children spiritually? What about the child who is dropped off at church on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights, while their parents show no desire or interest in the things of God? What about the child or student that depends on another family to bring them to church, because his/her parents would not? 

If our main focus is to put parents in the driver’s seat of discipling their children, what about these “spiritual orphans” whose parents are unregenerate, ungodly, apathetic, and even antagonistic toward Christ and his church? 

Take a moment and put yourself in the shoes of these precious “spiritual orphans” who love Christ, faithful to the body of Christ, and yet must come alone because their parents are lost or don’t care to involve themselves in their child’s spiritual life.  Can you imagine the embarrassment, shame, or feelings of “aloneness” they might feel when they see their friends and their parents share together spiritual blessings and connections; being able to talk to their parents about struggles spiritually.

What happens to them? “The simple answer is they’ll continue to experience church and discipleship just as they would have if we’d never developed a strategy integrating church and home.” (Shift, Brian Hayes, p. 131).

We must intentionally minister to these children and students. How?

1)      Our teachers and volunteer leaders must know their students and their family situation. They must compassionately and intentionally reach out to them in order to be the example of Christ in their lives. These students may need extra phone calls or emails; extra encouragement from God’s Word, and reminders to be steadfast. Plus, they need to understand the gospel as it relates to their family, along with the importance of prayer with them, for them, and leading them to know how to pray.  They may simply need a ride. Most of all, they need godly models.

2)      Our teachers and volunteer leaders must reach out to the parents of the children they teach by establishing a relationship with them, and truly ministering to them.  The common ground is their child.  What are the needs of this child’s parents? How can I as a church leader help meet those needs? How can our church assist these parents? What are some ways that I can begin to build a relationship with them? To love them as Christ loves me. I must have the heart of Christ even as He looked into the crowd and was moved with compassion because the people were like sheep without a shepherd. We must have that same motivation of compassion for our children and their parents.

3)      Teach our own children and our students to be aware of their friend’s parental situation. Teach them to pray for them, and find ways to minister to them. Make sure your child includes them in their activities, the church’s activities, and looks after them. They may simply need a ride. Additionally, teach our children to look after those in the children and student ministries that are “spiritual orphans” even if they are not close to them.  Christ calls us to love and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

4)      As parents, we must be aware of these children and students who lack any spiritual foundation at home. We must be willing to open our doors and invite them for Sunday dinner. When they hang out with your children at your home, take the time to talk about spiritual things, and model Christ-likeness.  Be aware of your child’s friends and their home life.  They may have loving parents, but they are lost. This is where you can step in and be the example of Christ for them. Additionally, you must reach out to their parents with the gospel by building bridges and finding common ground so that you may minister the gospel of Christ.

5)      Our children and student ministries will intentionally look for ways that we can best minister to these children.  There may be times when we turn to you and ask for your help to mentor these precious children.

We cannot de-emphasize our priority and strategy to equip parents simply because we will have children who do not have parental involvement. Instead, we must work hard and intentionally to love them, minister to them, and reach out to their parents with the grace of Christ.  “Never underestimate the God factor. God takes kids from apathetic, traumatic, and even tragic homes and turns their spiritual lives into a triumph.  When a child needs primary faith influencers and Mom and Dad shirk their responsibility, the church (Trinity Baptist) will lead the way” (Shift, Brian Hayes, p. 131).

As a partner of Trinity Baptist Church, it is your responsibility as well as mine to reach out to these “spiritual orphans.” Its not simply the teacher’s responsbility, or the student pastor or children’s pastor, its yours. So, say it with me: “Its my responsibility to minister.” It does not matter whether you are single, married with or without children, a senior adult, or a student, we are the body of Christ, and we are called to be faithful stewards of all that God has given to us.

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Comments
  1. Jimmy Sykes says:

    In other words being a Christian is not a spectator sport after all!

  2. You are right Jimmy! Its a get in the game and leave it all on the field type of Christianity. Children and youth who are “spiritual orphans” desperately need the entire church to minister to them. We must work together through our adult BFG, student and children’s small groups, and make sure we are coordinating between these various ministries to make sure we take care of their needs, and that we converge to reach out to thier parents. Thanks for writing, Jimmy.
    Love you brother~Jeff

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