Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How Then Shall We Raise Our Kids? Part 1

Brother Maynard posted the other day about Stacy Campbell’s prophecy at the Commissioning of Todd Bentley and her subsequent non apology. In the midst of his article he gave this side note on the prophetic propensity to talk about the "next generation."


….but I have to say that I’m sick and tired of prophetic words about the “chosen” generation or the “next” generation or things of this ilk. I’ve observed people prophesy it over their own generation, and as they age, marry, have a family, and raise children, they begin to prophesy the same thing over the “next” generation — i.e., their own kids. I don’t know, either we’re all special or none of us are… but either way, it doesn’t seem especially “prophetic” to call it out as though it were something new and not something that’s been said to every generation that has practiced prophetic ministry, bar none. It’s just some kind of misguided prophetic nepotism. How come there aren’t any prophetic words that say to teenagers, “You guys aren’t really the chosen generation, but your job is to work hard and raise good families so that they can grow up sound in the faith and pass it along to that generation, which is especially chosen for revival.”


He elicits a comment from a new blogger gxs who says this:

I no longer count myself in the Nazirite/Elijah/John the Baptist/Revolutionary/Overcoming/Revival/End-time Kick Uber-Ass/Joel’s Army generation ….not as described by the ‘prophetic movement’ anyway.

This started me thinking. I totally resonate with the comments from these two writers. I no longer buy into the thinking that this next generation is more special than the generation that went before it. I doubt this as much as I doubt that because this is 2008 and 8 is the number of God, that 2008 will be the year that God pours out his blessings in an unprecedented way. (sorry I gave up on the links) I have lived through the hype year after year (God was always going to do great things each year) and the men and women who keep this up should be shot on the stage where they stand unabashedly saying the same things year after year with no one questioning why it did not happen last year like they said it would. In the same way, if you read generations gone by they all jumped on the bandwagon of the “new, greater generation that would follow.

BUT here is my question. How then am I going to raise my children? I have been spoon fed this kind of theology and told to get my children ready for their “destinies” . Now what do I prepare them for? How do I encourage the gifts in them and give them a hope for their future without all the hype. How do I tell them that their lives are important but they may not be able to change the entire world in their lifetimes? How do I give them a sight of the true Kingdom of God while keeping their feet firmly planted in the world?

Would love to know what those who have come out of this kind of teaching are doing with your children. I’ll post later what I think. I’m listening to you first.

8 comments:

Heidi W said...

Honestly, I hadn't thought this particular topic through yet. I'm still trying to figure out how to raise my children outside of the institutional church setting (gasp) and in public school (double gasp) without completely blowing it. :)

However, while I believe I am where I am today because of ministries like you mention (ie. in love with the Lord), I just don't buy into all the hype anymore. In fact, the e-mails pile up in my e-mail folder almost completely unread until I delete a hundred or so at a time.... I used to pour over each one daily. Perhaps I'll eventually be able to read them again... I don't know. Every now and then I catch something good out of one.

Sorry... on to the question.

I've never managed to BE in one of those generations. I was always a few years too young, suddenly I became a few years too old. Never once have I been the correct age to stand up and be prayed over when it comes to this stuff. Is it too much for people to think that a spiritual generation has nothing to do with physical age? This has always aggravated me(and hurt me to think that I missed it all).

I think every generation needs to be loved on so much that they know the Love of God. That no matter their age, they are loved and special and wonderful and Jesus wants to know them personally. That if they follow after Him, and do what they believe He is telling/leading/showing them to do, that no matter how "popular" they look, or how many obvious changes they make in this world, that they are in exactly the right place?

Are we setting our kids up to be the next showcase preacher? Or are we showing them that wherever God plants them in this world, they can be exactly what He has called them individually to be, and make the difference He wants them to make?

Is there that much more to it?

Sorry for the rant... touchy subject apparently. ;)

Sarah said...

This is a great question, Barb! In regards to "special generations" - spiritually speaking, I tend to think of a "generation" in terms of all of the people who are alive in a certain era (in this case, the post-modern era). We share the same issues and context, even though we may have differing perspectives due to age differences.

Today's world isn't the same as, say, when Truman was president and decided helping Israel start a nation was just the right thing to do. It's just a different world due to technology, the information age, and post-modern culture. So, I guess I look at it a bit differently, the circle of "generation" is a bit wider for me. I don't know if I'm wrong or right in that way of thinking...

But, to the question at hand. My daughter just turned two today, so I haven't had to delve too deeply into this question yet (although I have been thinking about it). The only thing I've come to thus far is the importance of building relationship and investing time into her. I think the biggest shift that the post-church crowd is making is from investing into ministries/churches to investing in people. Our kids are the first ones to benefit from that transition in mindset.

The other transition is from task-orientation to relational-orientation. So rather than focusing on her "destiny" (which I think tends to speak to people's pride and self-importance anyway), I want to train her to relate to God. To get to know Him, to learn how to be friends with Him - to have conversations with Him, to ask Him questions. That sort of thing. (I think that's what Heidi was getting at too). If my kids are friends with God, and have a solid, trusting relationship with Him - then all the "destiny" stuff will be a natural by-product of that.

I actually don't buy into the whole purpose-driven thing. I think that attitude is informed by a culture that is task-oriented. Not that God doesn't have mission for us. But, He didn't create us as a labor force. He created us to be His kids in relationship with Him. If I can teach my kids that, *then* I will have accomplished something valuable! :)

Honest Blonde said...

Without going into detail but so that it's understood where I come from, when I was pregnant, Bob Jones prayed for me and of course, "prophesied" his spiel about the chosen generation.

Well that was in 1987 -- 21 years ago! By 1993 we had become out of church Christians, and remain so to this day.

From what Heidi and Sarah have shared, I think that their on the right track. Between the two of them, they've pretty much echoed my thoughts; but I will share a few things.

I'll never forget when the Disney movie "The Little Mermaid" came out. Not only did we see it in the theatre but we bought the movie, only to regret it later. Long story short, we got rid of the movie and explained to our daughter our convictions and why we got rid of it.

One day while she was taking a bath, I checked in on her and discovered that while in the bathtub, she was role-playing the movie "The Little Mermaid".

I realized right then and there, that I could set rules and have boundaries, but I couldn't change her heart. That was between her and God.

From that point on, we instilled in our daughter that to the best of our ability we would teach, guide, and nurture her to be who God created her to be, but that ultimately it was between her and God.

When we left organized religion our daughter was 6 years old. Up until she was in 7th grade, we took the initiative to cultivate her relationship with God.

When she started Jr. High (7th grade), we felt as though it was time for her to begin the process of cultivating her own walk with God. We gave her the following options:

We would help her pick out some devotionals, but we would not make her read them. We would buy her music and/or teaching tapes, but we would not make her listen to them. Or, we would take her to a church youth group but we ourselves would not be attending Sunday services.

She had friends from school involved in a non-denominational church youth group, and so that's the route she took.

Now, at 21 she found her destiney. She's married (no not pregnant). She's in college (Interior Design Major), and she's an out of church Christian ;o)

Lightbearer said...

Barb,

I linked to your blog from alanknox.net, I saw the blog topic and it suddently caught my attention. This is a topic that my wife and I have visited extensively. Because, just as you stated, we too are fed up with this nonsense. We have an 11 year old son. We have been teaching him the word since the day he was born, literally.

We have found that no matter where we have placed him (we've had him in private christian school and public school where he has been for the majortity of his schooling years) that as his parents we have the strongest influence on him thus far.

We have seen the messages in church and in the big media "revival" meetings, concerning the "next generation" and how this generation will be doing mighty exploits for God, more so than any other generation. Like you, we said "hey wait a minute, what about us"? We've simply come to the conclusion that this is hype, just like a bunch of other things that are hyped in the "church" today.

It's been our experience thus far, that giving him a solid foundation in scripture, and helping him to develop a relationship with God, as well as modeling that before him, is giving him a good start in the right direction.

We also have made a habit of looking for his gifts and talents and have gotten him the training he needs in those things to help him to start using them. This way he has started to use them and should have a good handle on them by the time he is grown. We have tried to raise him up in an atmosphere of knowing that ministry is not necessarily a paid position. But, is to be a part of everyone's life who has Jesus in their life.

These are things that no school and no church can do and influence like a parent can. There are many deceived christian people that we have known, who think that these things are the job of the "christian establishment". According to the Bible, the true christian establishment is the family.

I'm convinced for this reason that whatever parents do and model for their kids, will be ingrained in them for life. Even if it doesn't show up in their lives until adulthood.

Thanks,
Gary

fallenofftheplatform said...

Hi Barb,

As an expectant father (my wife is 26 weeks pregnant today) I can't give any take on anything to do with raising children.

But, I know how some of my beliefs are formulating around this area.

I'm truly starting to see the family as church. My ministry is as a husband and will soon also be as a father. It must start at home and it must be relational-oriented.

In the NT we see entire households coming to Christ at a time.

What we don't see is a family coming to Christ then enrolling their kids in a certain Sunday school class or youth group.

I recall a chat I had with a Southern Baptist friend of mine, who's brother is in seminary and was at a seminar with some 'well known names' for that denomination. Most of the people there we training to become IC Pastors, with most of them being young and having plan to become 'Youth Pastors'.

Someone raised the question to one of the guys in the panel: "What is the Biblical methodology for youth and childrens work?"

His Response: "There isn't one".

To most reading this here this will seem glaringly obvious but to those seminarians it was truly shocking and most were truly flabbergasted by this response.

I was in charge of the youth work at my church for a short while. Even in the first few weeks I was taken aback by the mentality of some of the parents. I was quickly viewed as the guy who was going to spiritually feed their kids, taking the responsibility from them and provide them a 'slot' on a Friday night where they could dump their kids. Needless to say I'm no longer involved there.

I'm blessed that I had an extended family that would talk on godly themes together on a regular basis and weren't slow to ask you what you thought of certain things and how you were doing so that they could be praying for you etc...

I want to retain that.

But, I also feel that I received a great deal of tradition, doctrine and praxis that I was never supposed to question. It's only now that I can realise the choke-hold that comes along with such a set up.

Questioning something, for me, has become a vital part of separating the good from the bad. So much of what I previously believed has only been solidified by questioning it and that which has proved to be unhelpful or irrelevant has likewise been exposed by questioning things.

I like how honest blonde presented her daughter with options and allowed her to find some things out for herself. I think that's important.

These are all things that I'm bearing in mind right now as I look forward to fatherhood.

Great question!

Rich said...

Barb,

Thanks for this post.

I was in the thick of all this stuff, being one of John Arnott's right hand men at one time.
I've seen and heard the best there is in this ongoing saga :(

All I know is my son and daughter are coming to KNOW the reality of the Father, but through so much pain and grief. We all make choices, and He is able to work in and through it all..gotta love it!

Here is a link to something I recently shared about my son needing me in trying to find out whether he is really loved, and if there was a purpose for him

http://unfoldingmystery.blogspot.com/2008/09/blog-post.html

traveller said...

Barb, I may not qualify to answer this questions since I do not have the same experience and background as you. However, I do think Sarah, and others, have made good points about the focus being the relation to God.

I would add that while there is no "special" generation, or person for that matter, I do believe we should help our children to grasp they can make a difference in the world by the way they live their lives. It will not necessarily be in some grand way, at least as we have often thought of it. But I do believe as we make our choices in how to relate to others, how to care for God's creation, how to vote, how to bring justice in our small part of God's world, we do have an impact in ways far greater than can be imagined. Far too many people believe there needs to be some grand scheme to bring about change. However, if each one of us touches the lives around us, cares for the creation near us, assists in bringing justice and righteousness where we are, the cumulative affect is grand.

KELLY said...

When I read this comment - "I no longer buy into the thinking that this next generation is more special than the generation that went before it" - I almost screamed "YES"! Working for a faith-based psychiatrist - I see it every day! And, part of the problem is that we have treated this generation of children with "kid gloves" - trying to make the mistakes for them - saving them from the pain, making excuses for them...and it has caused much more damage than allowing them to learn some lessons on their own. This generation of kids have a hard time taking responsibility for their actions - mainly because their parents are so willing to make excuses for them.

Our son turned 17 on Saturday and we purposefully set out to make sure he knew that there were consequences to every decision he made - right and wrong. It's a lot of work - hard work to parent a child! Now, I will admit that we have had him in a private Christian school since 1st grade - and that has made a huge impact on his walk with God and his moral and ethical views in general.

This is how I would answer a few of your questions:

"How then am I going to raise my children?"
With integrity, truth & passion.

"How do I tell them that their lives are important but they may not be able to change the entire world in their lifetimes?"
My family learned quickly (via international mission trips) that if you set out to change the entire world, you often end up with severe compassion fatigue. Our family has started locally - in our neighborhoods, city, county, schools, etc. - and encouraged others to do this, too. It generates a spirit of selflessness and community - and often times kids can see changes being made when it effects their day to day lives.

"How do I give them a sight of the true Kingdom of God while keeping their feet firmly planted in the world?"
Let them see YOUR relationship with God in action. Encourage their relationship with God. Serve together as a family - at a local mission or church, at the schools...etc. I have learned that actions speak so much louder than words.

Barb, I always appreciate your honesty when tackling such sensitive issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts through this blog.

Blessings!