The types of leaders that are necessary to begin and sustain a multiplication of the kingdom of God are Godly moms and dads. The instruction, encouragement, kindness, time and sacrificial love that go into raising Godly children are the same necessary ingredients to make followers of Jesus. Paul reveals his own parental approach to disciple making in 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 where he writes: “For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”
Yet, sadly, the same parents who have raised Godly children feel inadequate to make disciples of Jesus because Christianity has made discipling an educational method through curriculum, classrooms, and certification rather than a family relationship. I believe that the church has passed over kingdom leaders because they were not perceived as qualified, even though they have raised Godly children. I am now challenging parents to help advance the kingdom of God by making followers of Jesus in the same way that they raised their children.
The church (ekklesia) is made up of the children of God, and so it only seems consistent that we would function as a family on earth. Families cannot be run as an organization, and yet Christianity approaches the church as an organization as seen in the way it recruits and trains its leaders. The starting point for recruiting church leaders are with men with post-graduate degrees from religious education institutions The seminaries instruct their students in theology and church leadership, but how much preparation do these students have in how to be a good husband, wife, or parent?
I attended a pastor’s conference where business and military leaders challenged us to take the leadership principles from their organizations and apply them to our churches. One pastor said that the same leadership training he was giving us he also used to help businesses. This is not to say that there is no authority, structure, or accountability in the church; healthy families have all these things. I also am not suggesting that a leader of a business cannot be an effective leader in the church, or that pastors do not have helpful insights for the business world, but there is a marked difference between how a business and a family functions.
Here are a couple of action points I am working on:
- I am rereading the New Testament with the lens of viewing the church (ekklesia) as the “family of God.”
- I am recruiting Godly dads and moms, who could never imagine themselves making disciples or as kingdom leaders, to disciple others in the same way they raised their own children.
- I am interviewing Godly moms and dads for insights into how they raised their children and applying it to how I can disciple others.