My son paid me one of the biggest compliments that I can remember today. It came while I was laying in his bed with him during our nightly ritual. I was in the middle of telling both my older sons why I love being their dad when my oldest son whispered something under his breath. “Dad, you’re a really good dad.” The words hit me like a ton of bricks.
His compliment forced a myriad of thoughts through my mind. First, what a powerful blessing my son just gave me. Second, I wonder what made him say it? Third, does he think the same of God, his Father?
Over the years I’ve talked to many parents who were lamenting that their kids were growing less and less interested in church. Unfortunately, for many of these parents, what grieved them most was not that their kids were growing disinterested in knowing God, but that they were disinterested in going through the routines they had been trained to do.
It’s easy for us as parents to want to “outsource” the spiritual component of our child’s upbringing. After all – we assume – someone else is far more qualified, probably has the right answers, and is being paid to do it. We might as well take them up on their offer. But this isn’t God’s design. His design is that parents pastor their families, and that pastors pastor many families together – a church.
So how do families and churches work together to help build strong families, and ultimately strong churches? Good question. I’m glad you asked.
My friend, Dr. Tim Kimmel, just came out with a new book. It is entitled, Connecting Church and Home. He has written plenty of others before, selling millions of copies. The picture above is of the manuscript he sent me this past fall. I’ve been waiting to say something about it, as I think the book is excellent.
Here are a few high points of why I love this book:
1. He reminds readers of our role as parents, and of the church’s role with families. He says…
The role of a parent is to connect to the heart of his or her child in such a way he or she prepares that child to more easily connect to the heart of God.” p16
The goal of a church’s family ministry is to connect to the heart of each individual family leader in such a way that it better prepares those parents to develop a heart connection to their kids that subsequently inclines those kids towards a deeper love for the Lord and kindness toward others.” p17
2. He doesn’t simply give parenting advice. He lays out a plan of creating an atmosphere in your home where kids can thrive.
We don’t naturally think this way. Most parents want to know what to do when (fill in the blanks.) But the tough work of parenting is done when we fight for the hearts of our children.
In this book, Tim lays out a framework for creating a Grace-Based home. I think the framework is super helpful in helping parents understand how to make decisions that represent the heart of God to their kids. He says this:
Philosophy defines strategies that dictate tactics. The philosophical starting point of God’s relationship with us was to love us through the power of His grace. His strategy is to sustain His relationship with us through the on-going work of His grace and His tactics are to help us make our daily choices through the filter of grace in our lives.” p25
3. As one would expect, Tim unpacks the biblical concept of grace, and it is profound.
Grace is one of those concepts that most of us don’t understand. It is unique to Christianity. In fact, it is the very foundation of our relationship with God. I truly believe the more we understand God’s grace, the better parents we will be. Again, here are a few quotes:
Grace is not only the relational doorway to God’s heart, but it’s also the feature of His relationship with us that He consistently uses to maintain closeness to our hearts.” p24
The biblical concept of grace is much greater than is suggested in the common definition of ‘unmerited favor’. ‘Grace’ is a word that expresses a radical view of life and of relationship with God.” p24
The problem many, many Christians have is that we “get” grace if we’re talking about “saving” grace. But we have a bad habit of leaving that saving grace right where we found it at the foot of the cross and then going right back on a performance basis with God in our Christian walk.” p29
God does not choose to relate to us as servants. He calls us sons. This is profound. I want my kids to come to know God as Father. I want them to understand that me being a good father is only a glimpse – and an imperfect one at that – of the love of our Heavenly Father.
If you are looking for a good, short book to read on parenting, pick this one up. You’ll be glad you did.