A brother recently said to me: “I don’t agree with the Sword of the Spirit goal of transgenerational community. Some parents just cannot manage this, and some of our kids probably do not belong in community.” The comment keeps rolling around in my brain, and I would like to share a few thoughts on the subject.
Perhaps I should start by saying that I agree with part of what he said: some parents cannot (or at least do not) manage the transgenerational goal very well. And it is probably true also that some of our kids do not belong in community. Even so, I think that having a goal of transgenerational community is integral to the Lord’s call to the Sword of the Spirit.
Note: I am going to use the word “integral” a lot in this article. Integral means that which is needed to be complete. Just as people can survive with incomplete bodies (missing arms, legs, eyes, and the like) so people can be Christian, even though their Christianity lacks some important ingredients. Similarly, when I talk about community being integral to the Christian life (below), I am not saying that someone is not a Christian if they do not live in community, all I am saying is that something important is lacking. It is in this spirit that I say the call to be transgenerational is integral to the call of The Sword of the Spirit.
I Want My Children
to Live in Christian Community
I assume some community parents fail to embrace the goal of community for their children because they have not really embraced Christian community for themselves. Although they are members, they may see community as optional: an extra that is nice to have – one option in a sea of nice Christian options. I do not see things this way.
First, I see Christian community as integral to the full Christian life. If a Christian is not living in community (please note that I am not saying “in a Sword of the Spirit community”), they are not living a full, integral Christian life. My main reason for this conviction is scripture. We see in God’s word, especially in the New Testament, a call to live our Christian life in particular relationship with other Christians. It is instructive to do a Bible study on the phrase “one another.” By looking at passages containing “one another” we begin to see the kind of relationships God intends us to have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. For example…
This list gives a picture of Christian relationships: we call it community, others call it fellowship, one could call it integral Christianity. My job is to pass on to my children full and integral Christianity. I want them to hold the doctrines of the faith firmly. I want them to worship God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – correctly. And, I want them to live biblical Christianity – and that includes having the kind of Christ-centered, brother-and-sister relationships we have in the Sword of the Spirit. I want my children, our children, to live in Christian community.
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
- Bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
- Speak the truth in love to one another (Ephesians 4:15).
- Teach one another (Colossians 3:16).
- Forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32).
- Admonish one another (Romans 15:14).
- Comfort and edify (build up) one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
- Exhort one another (Hebrews 3:13).
- Stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
- Confess your trespasses to and pray for one another (James 5:16).
- Be hospitable with one another (1 Peter 4:9).
- Minister to one another the spiritual gifts you have received (1 Peter 4:10).
- Restore a fallen brother (Galatians 6:1).
Second, I look to my own experience in community. It was the community I am part of, the Work of Christ in Lansing, Michigan, that aggressively reached out to me, that supported me, that gave me practical, Christian teaching, that corrected and restored me. Yes, we have had our problems and frustrations, but through it all my brothers and sisters in the community have been true brothers and sisters in Christ to me. They have actually done those “one another” things mentioned above. I do not think that the Sword of the Spirit is the only place one finds this kind of Christian relating, but I do think it is rare. It is especially rare to find a group of Christians who are committed to living in stable community relationships long term – spanning all phases of human life. I want my children, our children, to have the same kind of support for their Christian life, their whole life long, that I have had for mine.
Third, there is the specific call of the Lord. I have a conviction that the Lord has called me to the Work of Christ and the Sword of the Spirit. This sense of call comes from scripture (as mentioned above), from prophetic words, and from my own day-to-day walk. I have found this life good and helpful for me, for my marriage, for my family (immediate and extended), and for my brothers and sisters in Christ. Similarly, I have a conviction that the Lord’s call extends to my children. Over 30 years ago, before I had any children, the Lord spoke to our community about the powerful work he would do in our children. That word has also been received in many other communities throughout the world. In the same way that I have a personal conviction that I am called to this community, we – the Sword of the Spirit – have come to the conviction that the work the Lord has done in us is not just for us, it is for our children too.
Over and over again, the Lord has called us to be “a people.” He constantly addresses us as “my people.” In that word “people,” I believe, resides a call to transgenerational community. A people includes parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren – a people passes its values, its patterns, and its life (both literally and figuratively) from one generation to the next. A group of 20-somethings (what we were when our community came into being) is not fully and completely a “people” in the same way that a transgenerational community is. Thus, by building transgenerational community, we are responding to God’s prophetic word to us as a group, a community.
Finally, here in the Work of Christ and in the Sword of the Spirit, my children have brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers in the Lord, with whom they have had loving relationships going back to their earliest years. In our increasingly mobile society, the dynamic of established, supportive relationships is not much valued – and we are beginning to see the impact of individuals who have no roots. I value for my children these long-lasting and stable relationships which provide tangible support for their Christian walk. This is why my first choice is for my children to share life in Christian community right here in the Work of Christ. My second choice is for them to share this life in another Sword of the Spirit community. I realize that the Lord may call them to something different – the Lord is sovereign and he can put his servants where he wills. But, no matter how or where they serve the Lord, I want them to live in Christian community – because community is integral to the full Christian life.
What Is a Goal?
We have a “goal” of transgenerational community, but the word “goal” can be a slippery thing. Someone can say that they have a goal when in reality they do not. I fell into this a few years ago. Over many years, my weight crept up until it started to impact my health. My doctor told me that I had to make some changes or diabetes and heart disease would dominate the remainder of my life. So, I established a “goal” to lose weight. Please be clear, I really wanted to lose weight, I talked about losing weight, I calculated how much weight I needed to lose, I even prayed for grace to lose weight. The problem was that I did not actually do anything to lose weight. Because I had no action, I did not really have a goal. A “goal” without action is not a goal, it is a wish.
In time I became convicted about my lack of action. I changed my diet and started exercising. Wonder of wonders, I began to lose weight. Because I began to take action, my “goal” was no longer a wish – it became, in reality, a goal. I have not become a skinny guy, but I eventually hit my target weight and am much healthier than I was a few years back.
In the Sword of the Spirit we have a goal: to become transgenerational. For this to be a real goal we need to have a plan and take action. Taking action does not guarantee that we will always achieve our goal, but at least it means that we have a real goal and not just a wish. In addition, the actions required to pursue this goal, as we will see below, are in and of themselves good things to do: they are good things for parents to do, good things for our community to do, good things for the region to do, and good things for our children to do. Just like watching what you eat and getting regular exercise are good things to do even if you do not need to lose weight, the actions that move us towards the goal of transgenerational community are good, important, and necessary – even if we did not have the goal. But, we do have the goal, so right actions are especially important. As I get into the specifics, please ask yourself: “Wouldn’t these be good things to do even if we did not have the goal of transgenerational community?” I think you will find the answer is yes.
Doing the Right
In 1 Corinthians 9:26, the Apostle Paul says: “I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air.” Paul had a life full of actions, but those actions were not random, they were deliberate, thoughtful, and led by the Lord. Similarly, the actions we choose to help move us steadily towards the goal of transgenerational community need to be thoughtful, deliberate, and led by the Lord. We need to think about what we are doing; we need to do some research; we need to keep our eyes open and see what has worked well for others; we need good counsel; we need to seek the Lord.
A while back I was watching an interview with an education expert. “What can parents do,” she was asked, “to insure their children get a good education?” The answer was surprising: “First, have dinner with your children at least five times each week. Second, take your children to a religious service every week.” The reason these actions were listed first and second, the expert explained, was the multiple studies that show family dinners and regular worship are consistent elements in the lives of children who do well academically. It would not be self-evident that the two most important things you can do to improve your child’s educational success are dinners and religious services. This kind of information only comes from carefully examining what has worked. Similarity, we need to look carefully at the elements that have successfully brought previous community kids into a full Christian life and then we need consistently to do those things.
Because we have been working towards the transgenerational goal for more than 20 years now, we have a growing understanding of what works and what does not. We have a great deal of teaching on the area, and more refined teaching is on the way. Much of our teaching reflects clear Biblical instructions to parents (e.g., “Fathers, bring up your children in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4). Some of it reflects the experience of families and communities throughout the Sword of the Spirit who have had good success bringing their children into community life. There is wisdom available, but we need to be teachable: we need to hear the teaching and apply it well.
in Our Spirituality
Note: A more detailed presentation of our spirituality can be found in the community course presentation on Community Membership in the section labeled “Our Spirituality.”
Some of our members seem almost apologetic about the spirituality of charismatic, Christian community. True, our spirituality is not very normal in most Christian circles. I see this as a matter for those Christian circles to deal with, not as something that should make us timid. If we fail to give witness of full commitment to Jesus Christ, the power, gifts, and fruit of the Holy Spirit, the communal dimension of the Christian faith, and the call of the Lord to ecumenical love and cooperation, how will the larger body of Christ (and our children) ever be challenged and come to see that there is something in this for them? I have great confidence in the spiritually we experience, and I have good reasons for this confidence.
It is a biblical spirituality. Yes, charismatic and community life needed renewal. What the Lord brought about in us was not a new invention. He was renewing what can be clearly seen in Scripture, and it was clearly central to the life of the early Christians. It is an effective spirituality. Each one of us, perhaps in different ways, was drawn into a deeper experience of the Lord and a deeper walk in Him through charismatic renewal and Christian community. If this spirituality worked powerfully in my life, it will probably work powerfully in the lives of others. I could go on, but you can see where I am going. Please note, I am not saying that we should not embrace particular spiritualities from our church tradition. I am saying that we should actively promote what the Lord has given us – what has been effective in our own life. And we should work to form our children in this biblical and effective spirituality. “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly” (Acts 20:20). If we – we who have experienced the power of this way of life – do not promote our spirituality with our children, who will?
Successful parenting is the result of several factors: knowing what to do, having an adequate plan, using good teamwork, following through, and the child himself cooperating.
We have some really good and helpful teaching on Christian parenting in the Sword of the Spirit. I grew up in a family with some gaps and dysfunction, so I found the teaching especially helpful. All of us can, at least, learn the basics. Some moms and dads go home from the Christian parenting course and ask, “What can we do to apply this knowledge in our family?” They make a plan to put teaching into action. Others go home, toss the outline in the trash, and never give the principles another thought. Some parents work together, some work at cross purposes. In some families there is good follow through – they actually do what they plan to do. In other families, there is a good start, but the pressures of life dominate, and the good patterns never take root. I established a pattern with my family early on: after every meal we would read a little from the Bible, talk about it, and then have a short time of family prayer. Let me be honest, we did not do this 100% of the time – in fact, we probably did this only 50% of the time. But, we did our 50% steadily year after year, and I think it had a profound impact on our children. We do not have to be perfect parents, but we do have to keep at it.
The final factor, the child himself, is a tough one. We had cooperative children, and that helped. Some people have un-cooperative children, and that is a challenge. To complicate things further, some children may be un-cooperative because of poor parenting, but some children remain un-cooperative in spite of overall good parenting – they seem to have been born with a chip on their shoulder. In addition, our children are created with free will: they can choose to personally embrace the integral Christian life of their parents; they can also choose to reject it.
Why do I go into all of this? First, I think it is important to avoid judgmentalism in the area: e.g., “Their children are not with the program, so they must be bad parents.” In a small group or pastoral relationship, it may be helpful to ask if others think your approach to parenting is adequate, but “drive-by condemnation” is always unhelpful (and unholy). Second, I want to be really clear, we do not parent well because we are always guaranteed good results. Jesus was the perfect teacher, but even one of his disciples rejected him. I try to parent well, not because I think that it guarantees success, but because I want to (1) do what a good Christian parent is supposed to do, and (2) I know that overall good parenting will increase the odds of my children embracing an integral Christian life.
Work for the Community
and the Regions to Do
Let us turn our attention to doing the work of transgenerational community. First, let’s look at what the local community and the region can do.
Most importantly, communities need to be living Christian community well (all those “one another” items listed above). If we hope to give community to our children, we must first possess it ourselves – you cannot give what you do not have. Living community is not just the job of the leaders, it is the responsibility of every member. We need to do what we said we would do, because it is right to keep our promises and because our children are watching. If our life does not match our words, the difference will be noted by the very ones we hope to win.
The leaders of the community must also engage the transgenerational call. Thirty-four years ago I visited the People of Hope, a community in New Jersey, to learn about their youth ministry. I was leading our high school group at the time and the People of Hope’s high school group was the gold standard. Bob Gallic, of blessed memory, was the senior coordinator of the People of Hope and he said it was vitally important for the coordinators, particularly the senior coordinator, to see the community youth as a primary focus and responsibility. He explained that the coordinators need to assign resources, oversee programs, and make a place for children in the life of the community. If they do not make the youth a central focus of their ministry, it simply will not happen. Again and again I have seen the truth of Bob’s wisdom. When the coordinators have the vision and take real responsibility, that is when the youth program really takes off.
The Work of Christ is a good-sized community by Sword of the Spirit standards: about 280 adults and about that many children. We have several programs for our community youth: pre-school, elementary, middle school, high school, college-age, and post-college-age youth – and we have a good percentage of community kids join the community. But, some of our communities are small, and I have heard a few leaders of small communities say something like: “We only have two high school kids, so we don’t do anything for them.” I believe we need thinking more radical than that if we hope to have our children join us in this call. If there is only one high school aged person, a community can still serve him or her. Ask a gifted person to set up a program for one: get together with that one for Bible study and prayer; take him or her out for a social event every month; do what is necessary to plug him or her into the regional youth program; and include that one as a line item in the community budget. The Good Shepherd spent time and resources on one sheep; if we have only one, we are not exempt; we still have work to do.
Many of our communities pray with their children to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. My community does this at our summer camp (camp is another wonderful thing communities can do). In addition I also prayed over each of my children at home. Yes, they are prayed over four or five times while still in elementary school. (You can read the introduction to my book, Life in the Spirit Seminars for Children, for an explanation of how this works: http://www.sos-nar.com/tabor_files/LSS Intro.pdf) I wanted my children to experience the presence, power, and gifts of the Holy Spirit at work within them from an early age. I also wanted them to participate fully in community worship. Imagine coming to community gatherings week after week, year after year, and not being able to pray charismatically. Most of the children in our community are baptized in the Holy Spirit, they pray with us charismatically, and some offer word gifts. In other words, they participate fully in this central aspect of community life. I think this is something every community should work towards.
Communities can also help to plug each child into the regional youth events. Here in the North American Region we are blessed with a well-developed youth program. We have several summer camps for elementary children; high adventure trips for middle school boys and girls; conferences, retreats, weekend events, and mission trips for high school kids; conferences, retreats, training seminars, and the GAP program (gapers spend a year serving in another community) for college-age young people; and we have On Holiday for the post-college crowd. All of these activities cost money, require transportation, and usually need chaperones. One way the community can show commitment to its children is to help meet these tangible needs: hold a fundraiser (or six), organize transportation to every big event, beat the bushes for people to serve – and encourage parents and youth to make these programs a high priority.
Note: There are some special challenges for our immigrant communities. In addition to all of the stuff above, immigrant communities need to deal with issues relating to culture and language – transitioning from the old culture and language of mom and dad to the new culture and language of the children. I will leave the discussion of this issue to others, but seeing the transgenerational goal as integral to our call and mission is a good place to start.
Work for Parents
I am going to hit a few high points here. There is a new series of mini-courses making their way through the Sword of the Spirit development process: the Christian Parenting Mini-Courses. These will cover the area in considerable depth. So, be on the lookout.
This may seem obvious, but it needs to be said. Mom and dad need to be committed to the Lord, living the Christian life well, living their community commitment faithfully, and have a loving, Christ-centered, and well-ordered marriage. In many years of community pastoral experience, I have encountered several (a small but noteworthy percentage) community marriage relationships that have had significant problems: lack of love, anger, resentment, wrong priorities, and the like. Weak marriages rarely lead to strong family life. Good, Christian family life is a complex and challenging thing to build. It requires love, unity, planning, and commitment over a long period of time. At the beginning of this article I said that some parents cannot or do not manage the transgenerational goal very well. Sometimes the root of the problem is a marriage that is not working well. It is hard to pull together as a team when there is strife.
In addition to the challenges of building an effective family life, consider the witness to our children of poor relating in the marriage. Christian marriage is supposed to give witness to the love between Jesus Christ and his church (Ephesians 5:24-25). We hear this so often our ears are calloused. But, this is a radical call and requires our full attention. Consistently poor relating in marriage not only fails to give witness to the love between Jesus Christ and his church, it tells our children that the power of Jesus Christ, the blessing of the Holy Spirit, and the support of the Christian community is not enough to get mom and dad to relate decently to each other. Why wouldn’t they look elsewhere? If you have consistent relationship problems in your marriage, please get some help and work on building a better marriage.
One more negative thing, and then on to positives. If we hope for our children to live in community, we have to be faithful to our own community commitment. We do not talk much about this, but in most of our communities, some (a small but noteworthy percentage) of the members are not very faithful: they miss a lot of gatherings, they miss a lot of small group meetings, they do not serve much. There is a major gap between what they have promised to do and what they are actually doing. A couple of years ago I pulled together data on what has happened to children from our community who had graduated from high school over the previous 10 years. Overall, an encouraging 65% of young people who grew up in community remained active in the Sword of the Spirit. I noticed, however, a disturbing pattern: of the fathers who had major participation problems, less than 16% of their children remain in community. We see two forces at work: (1) these children grow up experiencing less community, and (2) children grow up with a witness that community – integral Christianity – is not very important. There are many good reasons to be faithful to the commitments we have made; one of these good reasons is the impact of our witness on our children.
OK, I promised some positives and here they are. I will mention a few and give a brief comment. Each one could generate a whole article, so please think beyond what I say here.
Have family dinners.Spending time with your children over dinner communicates that your children are valuable; our family is valuable; we (Mom and Dad and each of you kids) need to schedule our lives so that we actually do what is important – a life-changing skill if ever there was one. Family dinners also provide a time and a place to do other stuff: share our lives, have family prayer, and learn the basics of the Christian faith.
Have your husband and wife meeting. If you hope to raise your children in the Christian faith and bring them into Christian community, you will need to have a plan. Mom and Dad need time to strategize, evaluate, budget, and otherwise scheme. Do this in your meeting – do other stuff too – but certainly do this. Also, take time to pray for each of your children. Ask for God’s blessing and seek his direction.
Create a family spiritual life. Have family prayer regularly, using a pattern that is appropriate for the children – and that reflects the spirituality of the Sword of the Spirit. Teach the basics of the Christian faith. It is important for fathers to take the lead here. Not only are fathers commanded in scripture to do this, but by doing this they communicate to their children, “This is important stuff.” Go to church together. Participate in community together.
Plug them into the community youth program. This consists of three complicated skills: (1) knowing what is going on, (2) getting them there, and (3) keeping other stuff (school activities, sports, friends, and the like) from interfering with community youth activities. In our community, the coordinator in charge of the youth program has kept careful records going back about 15 years. He tells me that of those community children who did not participate in the youth group, not one became an adult member of the community. In some cases the children were in rebellion. In some cases other activities, poor planning, or an overly-busy life was the culprit. In a few cases the parents disagreed with the idea or the vision for our youth group – they had a different or a better plan. No matter what the reason, not one of these young people became an adult member of the community. Do not underestimate the power of a consistent connection between your children and the community.
Govern and limit worldly influences. A major concern is media: television, books and magazines, the internet, music, movies, and the like. The world has some powerful and attractive messages for your children, so keep on top of its main delivery systems. Also, know your children’s friends and social activities. Take appropriate steps here as well.
Help your children make wise decisions. This becomes a major concern in the later highschool years. For example, choosing to attend a college far from community almost insures that they will not end up in community (do not underestimate the power of maintaining a consistent connection). Parents who want their children to become adult members of the community, do well to encourage (with both words and financial resources) their children to attend a college served by a Sword of the Spirit university outreach. Likewise, they can discourage (with both words and financial resources) their children from attending a college not served by a Sword of the Spirit university outreach chapter. Of course, learning to make good decisions does not start is late teenage life. By teaching our children how to make wise decisions when they are young, they learn a process (and their parent’s place in that process) that will serve them well as the decisions become more and more important.
Build a relationship and communicate with your children. Do you sit down and talk with each child individually? Have you shared with your child why you are committed to Christian community? Have you shared with them that you want them to live in Christian community too – and why? Do you help them make wise decisions that will make this goal more likely to happen? These (and many others) are good things to do.
Grease the skids. Some of our youth events are costly: they require time, money, and transportation. They also have a powerful impact on our children, so it is worth the investment. I always told my children, “I will take care of the money and the transportation, your job is to reserve the time.”
Attend community teaching on parenting. Our family was tremendously blessed by the teaching we received in our community: some of it given in formal courses, some in lessformal parent forums. The information and ideas helped us to build a stronger family life and better lead our children to the Lord. If you have teaching for parents in your community, please attend it faithfully. If your community does not have it, please encourage your coordinators to get on the ball.
As mentioned previously, doing all this stuff (and more) will not guarantee transgenerational success. It is, however, good and important stuff to do and it dramatically increases the odds that our children will grow up to live a full and integral Christianity.
Work for Community
Kids to Do
There is a lot of work for community kids to do as well – give their life to Jesus Christ, plug into church, community, and youth group, receive Christian formation and apply it well, make wise decisions in the Lord, go on mission trips, do a GAP year – lots and lots of good stuff. I do not imagine, however, that this article will be read by many of our youth, so I am not going to address them here. I will leave that instruction for a different forum: a youth-oriented, forum.
Why Some Parents
Do Not Engage the Transgenerational Goal
Some parents fail to engage the transgenerational goal because of problems or disunity in their marriage. Others may lack the knowledge, planning, and follow through necessary to successfully form their children in this life. Some parents (and/or their children) are un-plugged from community life in significant ways, and this keeps them from engaging the transgenerational goal well. A few parents have become timid about our spirituality (or have shifted much of their attention to a different spirituality) and this hinders engagement with the goal. Some parents simply hold a different goal (e.g., financial success) for their children. Others have the “goal” but without sufficient action – and so it is more of a “wish.” Finally, some children are very challenging and their parents are unwilling or lack the ability to manage the situation well.
Why Some Children
Do Not Engage Community Life Well
Some of our children may have a genuinely different call from the Lord: a call to Christian ministry in another venue. This is something the Lord gets to do – to direct his servants to something else. When our children have discerned such a call responsibly and in good order, we do well to support them in it. If, however, a community kid is called to a different life and ministry, I sincerely hope that they will do that with a solid foundation of full commitment to Jesus, the power, gifts, and fruit of the Holy Spirit, life in Christian community, and love for brothers and sisters in Christ from other Christian traditions. Full participation in community life as a child and teenager is an excellent foundation for any call the Lord would lead them to.
Some of our children may genuinely want to live in Christian community, but they are not willing to live our way of life at an acceptable level. As a coordinator, I run into this once in a while. An adult who has grown up in community really enjoys community life: this is where his friends are, he enjoys community programs, and has many loving relationships. He does not, however, come faithfully to community gatherings, he does not attend community formation (“I have heard it all before”), he does not attend small group very often, he is not serving much. To be a member of the Sword of the Spirit, people (even community-kid people) need to actually live our way of life well. If they do not, they should not become members – even though we love them to pieces.
A few community children, with or without realizing it, may choose a path that is incompatible with community. Let me offer an example. Imagine a young adult from my community (central-Michigan location) who desires, eventually, to become a full member of this community where she has many wonderful family and community relationships. She embarks, however, on a college course that ends with an advanced degree in marine biology. I am sad to say that these two paths are pretty much incompatible – one simply does not pursue a marine-biology career from central Michigan.
Life-orienting decisions (e.g., whom to marry and where to look for that first real job) have a huge impact on whether young people remain in community. There are incredibly complex issues surrounding these decisions and I cannot do justice to the topic in the little space I can devote to it here. I will say, however, that as young people who have grown up in community approach these decisions, it is especially helpful if they are in a position to receive godly council from their parents, their pastoral worker, and their small group. Sometimes, it can be a right decision in the Lord for a person to leave community to pursue a career or marriage. Sometimes, however, the Lord invites young people to make a profound sacrifice to live in Christian community. Those who accept this invitation should be held in honor by their brothers and sisters in community.
Finally, a few community children simply reject Christian community for a more worldly life, others remain Christian but choose not to live in community. This choice highlights that God created each of us with free will. Community children can choose to follow the Lord or not; they can choose to follow the Lord in community or not; they can choose to embrace our call and mission or not. Their choice is not necessarily the result of what the region, the community, or the parents have done or not done – it can be simply a choice they as individuals have made. Still, we (region, community, and parents) should do what is right to do, should do what we can do, and should do what increases the odds that our children will embrace Jesus Christ and his life fully.
You and Your Children
On the day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter quoted the Prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophecy and your young men shall see visions” (Acts 2:17). Just as the gift of the Holy Spirit has been poured out upon adults, God intends that our sons and daughters – his children – will experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives as well. We have been blessed to see this prophecy come true in our day.
The Lord generously provided a place of refuge for Jacob, but also for his children: “You shall dwell in the land of Goshen, and you shall be near to me, you and your children, your children's children” (Genesis 45:10). Similarly, the Lord has provided for us and for our children a bulwark of protection – the Sword of the Spirit. What a blessing to be near the Lord, together with our sons and daughters, and to be charged with a call to be something together for him in this age.
The Lord has spoken a word to us. He has called us to knit our lives together as a people: a people who will live for him, love him, and serve him – together. I heard this call for my own life many years ago and have experienced tremendous blessing in responding to it. I believe that God’s call extends to many of the children who were born into and grew up in the Sword of the Spirit. As with any call from the Lord, a response is required. Parents can respond by embracing the vision for transgenerational Christian community and by doing those things that lay the groundwork for their children to embrace this call. The ultimate response, of course, is our children’s choice to make. My desire is for many of our children to experience the blessings that I have known living for Jesus Christ as a member of the Sword of the Spirit.