Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spiritual Children

In the late 20th century there was a term in many church circles that has faded from most conversations today. The term was "spiritual children". You might hear someone say that Bob was their spiritual father, or this is Julie, she is my spiritual daughter. Often church leaders would encourage people to "go out and make spiritual children". The idea was that you could reproduce yourself in the lives of others and,in some way, impart into them things of significance that God had done or was doing in your own life.
In Jesus' day this act of creating "spiritual children" went by a different name. When Jesus encouraged His friends to make "spiritual children" He said "Go and make disciples".

To me, when I think of making disciples I cannot get away from the idea that the primary model of discipleship in society is the picture of a parent with their child. The child is born, grows, and matures all under the guidance and influence of their parents. That child's parents will mold him and instill principles and morals into him that will forever shape his life and one day that parent will see their child arrive at a place of full maturity and hopefully watch them repeat the process with their own children.The difficult part of parenting is that each child is different. What is effective in training one child may drive another to frustration. What may cause one child to thrive may have the opposite effect on another. Even two children with the same parents, and the same instruction will still, upon adulthood, be two totally different people. As parents we look for ways to train our children to do right and to live lives pleasing to God, and we help them learn to apply those truths in a way that they can appreciate.

Proverbs 22:6 Tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he won't depart from it". When we read this verse it is easy to buzz through it and say "If we teach a child right and wrong and to be a good person he will turn out all right in the end." To an extent this is true, but their is more to this than that. It is a parents job to help a child become the best "them" that they can be. A large part of that is helping a child to identify his passions and gifting, and teaching him to engage in those things in a healthy way.

Shouldn't the church be taking the same approach as we make disciples?

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