Making Disciples of the Next Generation

October 1, 2017 sermon
By John Maiden, Associate Pastor

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Perry Creek Church is committed to five core values: Bible & Prayer, Family & Community, and Missions. Today we focus on family, specifically: how we as a church can make disciples of the next generation by equipping our children with what they need to live out their faith in every day life. The Jewish confession of faith, the “Shema”, in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 gives us three ways we can make disciples of the next generation:

  1. Loving God (Deut. 6:5).  Just as Moses instructed the Israelites, we are to love the one true God with ALL of who we are (Deut. 6:5). We are to be a church where we show our children and each other our devotion and love of God within the context our daily lives. Our family ministries at Perry Creek Church are to be a high priority, and accordingly we have assigned creative names and logos to our children & youth ministries: The Greenhouse (Birth-3 yrs.), The Treehouse (4 yrs.-3rd grade), The Clubhouse (Grades 4&5), “Rooted” (Youth: middle & high school).
  2. Living Out Your Faith (Deut. 6:5,6). As we love God, everything else flows from who He is. We love others because He first loved us with the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection. This love compels us to listen and obey. Obeying means turning our wills in God’s direction, keeping His commands (John 14:21) and following His Word with the power of His Spirit – in our homes, our churches, our community. One of the main factors to keep kids in the church is having parents that stay married and live out their faith in their every day lives. Christian parents prioritize Christ as the center of their homes, and value what has eternal significance.
  3. Teaching Our Children (Deut. 6:7-9).  Moses instructed Israel in Deut. 6 to love God, then to obey God by living out their faith, and finally to teach their children. As Christians, we point our children/youth to Jesus wherever we go and whatever we do, teaching the next generation to love their Heavenly Father and live out their faith as disciples. As a church family, we need to invest in our own children/youth and the children of Riverbend Elementary – personally and spiritually. The church reaches out to families by equipping children/youth and their families to know Jesus, grow in faith, and go by serving our church, our community, and the nations: “Know, Grow, and Go”.

Prayer: As a multigenerational family of faith, help us adult members/parents to love, obey, and teach our children/our youth about our Living Lord to help the next generation to follow Jesus.

Discussion Questions

  1. As a child, was any adult in your family instrumental in showing you what it means to combine real life with faith in Christ?
  2. As a child, was any adult in your church community helpful in showing you what it means to combine real life with faith in Christ?
  3. What does it mean in daily life to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5)? How do we teach this to children/youth?
  4. If the church is a “family of families”, how can we help its young adults stay in the faith?
  5. How could you personally support families/children/youth at Perry Creek Church?

Introduction

Good morning. My name is John Maiden, and I am the Associate Minister here at Perry Creek. We have been going through a short three week series on our values as a church called “DNA”. As a church, our values are Bible, Prayer, Family, Community and Missions. Our logo is a tree, which represents our values:

  • Drink deeply from which two values? Bible and Prayer
  • Grow richly from which two values? Family and Community
  • Share freely from? Missions

Today we are going to focus on family. When I mention family, there are many different responses and thoughts that come to people’s minds. Maybe to you family carries with it joyful memories, but some of you it might cause hurt and pain. There are also people here that are all in different seasons of life. There are children, singles, married without kids, married with kids, empty nesters and senior adults. Whatever category we find ourselves in today, this message is for you. As we will mention later, as the church of God, we are family; therefore, these truths apply to all of us. When talking about the value of family, there are so many things we can focus on. Today our main focus is going to be on how we, as a church, can make disciples of the next generation.

Adam grew up in a “Christian” home as a child. Every single Sunday morning his parents and two older sisters would get up and head off to church. After the service was over, they would immediately discuss where they wanted to go for lunch. It was usually Jim n’ Nicks BBQ. Until Wednesday, there was not even one conversation about Christian things that took place in the home. Wednesday night would come and Adam would go to youth group. It was OK, because they played fun games and there were some cute girls. But beyond the youth group, no one really ever talked to Adam about Christianity. To Adam, being a Christian meant you went to church on Sunday and Wednesday and, well, that was about it.

When Adam was 18, he moved off to start college. At first, he continued to practice what he did at home and would go to church on Sunday mornings. But one day, he couldn’t really come up with a reason why he did it. I mean how does Christianity affect his life anyway? One Sunday morning, he just slept in and just hung out with his friends. As my wife says, he went to “Bedside Baptist.” That was much more fun than going to church. Until eventually, he just stopped going to church all together. Today if you were to ask Adam if he was a Christian, he would say he grew up in the church, but he doesn’t really see much need for it anymore. I believe the reason we have no many Adams walking around is because they have not seen genuine, lived out faith in their homes and in their churches.

We value family, because we desire to equip families to know what is looks like to live out your faith in the home. We desire to have ministries that show our children and youth how to live out their faith and how it affects their everyday lives.

God has entrusted our church with children and youth who will one day leave the doors of this church. How will we – as a church, as parents, and students, as children – be faithful with what God has entrusted to us.

Our passage today is Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Yes, you heard me correctly. Deuteronomy. I believe this passage has a lot to say about how we as a church are to make disciples of the next generation:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
– Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Deuteronomy is the fifth book in the whole Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In Exodus, God’s people, the Israelites, were led by God out of slavery and then had been wandering the wilderness. When we come to Deuteronomy, the Israelites are getting ready to enter the promise land, and Moses is about to give over his leadership to Joshua. Moses gives kind of like a recap of God’s covenant with his people before the Israelites enter into the promise land. Just before chapter 6, in chapter 5 Moses gives a recap of the ten commandments. Then we come to chapter 6, to the primary commandment given to Israel.

The verses we are mainly focusing on today are 6:4-9. This might be a familiar passage to you, but it is even more so a familiar passage to the Jews of the Old Testament and the Jews of today. This piece of scripture is known as the “Shema.” Shema means “hear.” It is the Jewish confession of faith. Another way to think of “hear” in this context is “to obey.” Jews today will recite the Shema at least twice a day. Jewish boys are required to memorize it as soon as they can speak. The Shema is understood as being the heart of the law. If you remember that, when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he quoted this verse. Before we look at the commands of this passage, let’s look at why these commands are significant and why they must be obeyed. In this passage, there are three ways we need to be as a church if we are to make disciples of the next generation. As a church, we need to be:

  1. Loving God
  2. Living out our faith
  3. Teaching our children

Loving God

“Hear O Israel, The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
– Deuteronomy 6:4-5

There is one God, and Yahweh is that God. Polytheism was a wide practice then and now, meaning people worship many gods and not just one God. In this passage and throughout all of Scripture, it is clear that Christianity is the worship of one God, because there is only one true God and that God is Yahweh.

There is one God, and that one God was to be the sole object of Israel’s worship. Therefore, we are to give our lives to Him and obey Him. Since we know the true God, we should listen and obey to all God has to say. There are huge implications here. We must listen to what God has to say about all of like. This includes what God says about the family.

God created family, so what He says about it is truth. In the beginning all the way back in Genesis 2, God created family. He said it was not good that man should be alone, so He created Eve. Adam and Eve then had kids and had the first family. So with that foundation, let’s see what God has to say to us:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
– Deuteronomy 6:5

The first command given is this passage is to love God. Again, this command is what Jesus said was the greatest commandment when he was asked. Look at commentaries for Matthew 22: As we love God, everything else flows from that. We will then obey God and we will then teach God.

Again, remember that this love flows from God and who He is. That is our foundation for this passage. The Bible says that “We love, because He first loved us.” How did God love us? He sent us Jesus to die for us and to take the punishment of our sin, so that we could be forgiven. He then rose from the dead defeating death and sin forever for those who believe in Him. This is the gospel, and this is why we can then love God.

We are not just called to simply love God, but love him with all of our “heart, soul, and might.” Man is to love God with all of their being. It was and is to be total devotion. We are not called to give a part of our life to God. God, you can have my Sunday morning, but not the rest of the week. OK God, you can have my money, but not my hobbies. Those are mine. God commands all of us!

If we want to be a church that has biblical family ministries, we need to be a church that loves God. Again and this is not just for those of us with kids, but all of us. Let me stopped for a minute and let you know what I mean by family ministries. This sermon is going to be a little different, because I am going to stop some throughout and show our plans for the family ministries at Perry Creek! Because we as a church value family, we want to prioritize our family ministries.

A couple of months ago, a small team began to set out, with much prayer, what the Lord wanted from our family ministries. The way our family ministries at Perry Creek are going to look is that we will have a children’s ministry and a youth ministry.

Perry Creek Kids

  • Greenhouse: 0-3 years
  • Treehouse: 4 years – 5th grade
  • Clubhouse: 4th-5th Grade

Youth Ministry is called simply rooted.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
– Colossians 2:6-7

When our youth leave the doors of this church, we desire for them to be rooted deep in Jesus and know how this affects their everyday lives. Be in prayer for these groups. A couple of weeks ago, we kicked things off with a youth cookout and had a great time. Thank you to the Helminiak’s for hosting and, guys, if you have not been to an Helminiak party you haven’t been to a party. Go over and make some s’mores on their fire pit sometime. Maybe if you are lucky, Chris might make you his amazing cake.

Living out your faith

If we are to truly lead and teach our kids how to follow Jesus, we need to be living out faith ourselves. Living out in the church and living it out in our homes.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
– Deuteronomy 6:5-6

A result of loving God is living out our faith by keeping his commands:

He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.
– John 14:21

The idea of being on your heart carries with it that God’s word is always on your mind. As we love God, we will live our lives with God’s word always on our minds. We will think about things rightly and live them out in all of our lives.

70% of young adults who indicated they were in a church for a least one year in high school left the church. The good news is 66% do return later in life, but 33% never return. Why do kids leave? One of the main factors that keep kids in the church is having parents that stayed married and live out their faith. If kids just see that Christianity is just something that you do on Sundays, then they are not interested. If kids don’t see that their parents live out their faith in their marriage, they are not interested.

The two greatest ways that I can love my family is to love God and love Sarah. Do I want John Duke and little girl Maiden to love Jesus? Love my wife. Which makes sense, right? Marriage is a picture of the gospel, and as I love Sarah, I am picturing God’s love to my kids. If kids see that their parent’s faith in God does not affect their lives, they are not interested.

For our kids to know the priority of Christ in their lives, Christ needs to be the center of our families. God has created the family to picture and show the gospel. Jesus has shown us and taught us how to be husbands, wives and children of faith. Are we living this out in our homes? Are we keeping Jesus at the center of our homes? Or is the center of our homes the kids? Is the center of our homes our extracurricular activities?

I am sure, like me, when you are driving to church and home from church you notice all the kids playing soccer. What a sad reality. What’s more important? How good our kids are at soccer or if they are growing in their faith with Jesus? What has eternal significance? Not saying that stuff is bad, I am just asking “What is the center of your home?” My challenge to you as parents is to prioritize Christ in your homes. Invest in things that help them grow in their relationship with Jesus. That is what has eternal lasting impact.

My challenge to all of us as a church family: Let’s show our children and students how our lives our affected by the gospel of Jesus. Our children and students are watching the way that Frank loves Becklin. Let’s show them Christ with our lives. To have healthy families, we need parents to live out their faith and to teach it to their children.

Teaching our children

If we are to be a church that makes disciples of the next generation, we need to be teaching.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
– Deuteronomy 6:7-9

We are to love God, obey God by living out our faith and teach others about God. These verses specifically talk about teaching the next generation. We are called/commanded to teach the next generation to love God and live out their faith. And again, our faith in God is supposed to be a part of our everyday lives. As parents, we are to live a life that is continually pointing our kids to Jesus.

  • “When you sit at home, when you are walking down the road.” Inactivity and activity involve all human effort. Every moment is a teaching moment. My son, even at the age of one, is picking up on things that we do. We are in the early stages of disciplining our son. We know that is he picking up on when things are wrong, because right before he does it he stops and looks at me. But when he disobeys, I will sometimes give him a little pop on the leg. He will then begin to do it himself while saying “no”.
  • “When you lie down, when you get up.” This involves totality of time.

These were intended to be metaphors. It was just emphasizing that the people of Israel were to identify themselves as the people of God with their personal lives (bind them on your hand and forehead), their homes, and their communities (doorpost of house and gates). Israel did begin to act on this literally as they placed the Shema along with other passages, written on small scrolls in containers and placed them on their arm and forehead. The point was that God commands us to be obedient to God’s word in all we do and wherever we are.

We all have a role to play in this teaching. This teaching takes place in the home, but also as a church. If we want the next generation to be disciples of Jesus we all need to be a part of our family ministries.

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
– 1 Timothy 5:1-2

As the church, we are all family. We need each other, and we are to help each other. Another key to helping kids stick to church was that “at least one adult from the church made a significant investment in me personally and spiritually.” It takes a church to raise up children and youth in the faith. We are all called to be a part of these ministries and take ownership of them. We need people to serve in our nursery, to teach our children and to invest in the lives of our students.

The first time we came to Perry Creek as y’all began to meet here at the school, Sarah was really nervous about leaving John Duke in the nursery. As she made the long trek back to the nursery, she was met by two smiling and loving people – Fred and Connie Kirchman. How cool is it that we have a couple, whose kids have grown up themselves, looking for ways to serve our babies!

The kids and students at this church are looking to all of you. It takes a church to help one another learn what it looks like to be a faithful husband and wife. A faithful parent. An obedient child. The kids at this school are looking to all of you as an example. Church, look at where we are meeting! God has given us the opportunity to invest in the lives of the students and their families at this school! All of us can and need to be a part of this. So, with all that said, how does our church fit into our family ministries? Equipping children and their families to know Jesus, grow in faith and go by serving our church, our community, and the nations.

A couple of things that are really exciting about this statement. It is very easy to learn! The way we will remember it is “Know, Grow, and Go.” We all need to owe this! This goes right into what we were talking about how we all have a role to play in our family ministries. Can you say it? “Know, Grow, and Go.” Know this so you can go up to Hannah Mailand and say “Hannah, how you growing in Jesus?” “Mia, how do you know Jesus?” “Sophia, how are you going for Jesus by serving?” This statement also has all of our values as a church. Our family ministries do not take place apart from our church. We are all called to help is this equipping process!

Families – this ministry is a family ministry. It is not just for kids, but a ministry for us as a church to also come alongside of parents. The way we know Jesus and grow in faith is through Bible and Prayer. We also grow by going as we serve our church, our community, and the nations. We have all been entrusted with the responsibility to help raise up the next generation of disciples. We all need to pray for our families and the parents and children in them. Where we can, we need to serve in our family ministries. We all need to raise disciples of Jesus by loving God, living out our faith and teaching God to the next generation.