“Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting the parents in the Christian nurture of this child?”
Recognize it? This is the promise we make at baptism, each time parents bring their child to receive this glorious mark of God’s covenant faithfulness. Followers of Jesus have made this promise, or one like it, for centuries.
It is important to schedule your time around serving the younger people in the church as attentively as you schedule anything else.”
Question: how can we actually keep it?
INTENTIONALLY SCHEDULE PROMISE-KEEPING TIME
It is important to schedule your time around serving the younger people in the church as attentively as you schedule anything else. Here are some examples:
1) Hundreds of mothers, fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers scheduled their vacation time around our Vacation Bible School (Marketplace 2017) where they were all serving the youngest among us. Almost 250 kids were served for almost four hours every day for a week in June. Join them in the years to come. Imagine using vacation for the communication and translation of the Gospel to the next generation. I heard an 80-year-old elder who was a volunteer say as we worked side by side: “These are the future leaders!” I said, “Amen!”
2) One LMPC member is a professor at Covenant College and at Reformed Theological Seminary. As he teaches undergrad and master’s level students, he also annually dedicates a major portion of his year to teaching first graders on the Lord’s Day at LMPC. As he teaches future pastors, he tells each of them that this first-grade class is among the most important acts of service in his Christian life. Join him! Teach or assist every Sunday.
3) One businessman who grew up in the LMPC youth group has volunteered in the youth group God used in his life. He has mentored young men now for more than 20 years. Not only has it kept him physically and mentally young, but also he has been the tool of God in the lives of countless young men. Two of those are my own sons who now serve the Lord in different capacities. Join him in the youth group.
4) A mother took a Sunday School class of children at kindergarten age and taught them all the way through 6th grade. As the children matured in classroom age, she moved up with them. She would sit with them in worship and teach them how to take notes on the sermons. She held regular parties for them and encouraged them to speak to one another of how Jesus was changing their lives. Now that’s discipleship.
WRITE LETTERS OF LOVING TRUTH TO THOSE WHO ARE NEWLY BORN
One pastor writes many newborn children a “welcome to the world” letter. The letter is designed to be discovered one day amid all the other nostalgic memorabilia that will accumulate through the life of the child. The pastor explains that many have been praying in anticipation of the child’s birth; the world is filled with both wonder and pain; the child also has some very distant relatives named Adam and Eve who made some choices that we have been cleaning up for a long time; and the Lord who created them and sent them to their parents has also sent his only begotten Son to a cross to pay for the sins of his people. He encourages the child to trust and obey. Write to all the newly born in the flock.
DEDICATE TIME TO INTERCESSION AND PRAYER
Some members of LMPC take all the names of the children to pray for them regularly, asking for the Lord to give them re-birthing grace, heart transformation, and life direction. Ask the church office for a list of the names of all children under three years of age. Pray for them weekly.
ALWAYS BRING THEM WITH US WHEN WE SERVE THE OLDER
One woman has taken the younger women in middle school and high school to nursing homes and assisted living facilities to sing, read, encourage, and build lasting friendships with older men and women. She has mentored the younger and blessed the older at once.
VACATION WITH YOUNGER MEMBERS
One elder used to take several young men and their dads on vacations with him. He mentored the boys to be Christian gentlemen and their dads to be Christian dads while he taught the boys to golf, camp, and fish. He challenged boys to read great books as he rewarded the boys for every book report the boys turned in to him. One young man now attributes his monthly reading of two to three books as a grown man to the encouragement he received as a boy from this elder. He recently traveled to be with the elder’s widow he now considers to be like family.
For every example like this, I say: praise God on high! Please join these brothers and sisters and follow their excellent example of promise keeping. Let’s be a great help to the families around us. Let’s keep our promises made at the baptism of children.