What a pretty sunset," I commented. "God painted the sky," responded Katie, my five-year-old daughter. I took heart in the fact that God was situated in her imaginative landscape. Will he stay there?
My heart breaks whenever I hear Christian leaders share a prayer concern about a son or daughter who has left the faith. These hurting parents wrestle with the fact that they have not passed on to their children what they have worked hard to give to so many others.
There are no guarantees. Moving from the Old Covenant to the New meant a change in faith delivery systems. What was primarily handed down from parent to child as a birthright became less predictable: the Holy Spirit quickens whomever he wills; "the wind blows where it wishes" (John 3:8, NKJV). And yet, I cannot help seeing the quality of my child's faith as a measure of the quality of my own.
Wendy Murray Zoba knows these concerns. The mother of three teenage boys and the wife of a pastor, she worries about the unintended pressure she puts on her sons to be "good" Christians. "Everything they do I tend to evaluate against what it says about what kinds of Christians they are becoming—never mind that we, their baby boomer parents, did much worse at their ages."
And that is why she so appreciates the church's youth workers. They are the third-party adult Christians whom kids can ask the hard questions without the heaviness of parental expectations intruding. Our prolific associate editor set out, with a vested interest, to discover the health and effectiveness of our churches' youth ministries.
In writing her cover story, "The Class of '00" (which begins on p. 18), she found that many experts were scratching their heads. Kids have changed. The old ways aren't working as well. Churches are experimenting. The results are both sobering and encouraging.
I remember my experience as a junior-high Sunday-school teacher. The quality of our discussions was determined by the attendance of two engaging, thoughtful, and fun-loving students who brought out the best in others. So I was surprised to witness how both of these youth's lives fell apart in high school, involving drugs and delinquency. Yet today these young adults are again engaging, thoughtful, fun-loving, and now mature Christians. As a parent, I try to keep in mind that seldom will my plans prevail, but the God who paints sunsets is also the caring Father who has a plan for us all—including our kids.
Copyright © 1997 Christianity Today. Click for reprint information.
February 3, 1997 Vol. 41, No. 2, Page 4
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