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Family Ministry Moments - July 2024

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Recently I was buying some mulch for my house at the hardware store.  I looked at the cashier, a young man, and thought,  ”I know this guy”.  After searching my memory, I asked him, “Did you play Upward Basketball because I think I coached you?” He said, “Yes, I thought you looked familiar.” Turns out this soon-to-be high school sophomore, along with my son, was on a team I coached a few years ago.  After catching up for a minute I paid for my mulch and went on my way.  You might assume this was just a chance encounter, but it happens more than you think.  I can’t tell you how many kids I see out and about from Upward, AWANA, Kids’ Life Groups, etc.  Just a few weeks ago a young man stopped by the church to use the restroom while on a run, you guessed it, I coached him also.  

These random meetings can stick with me for a while, it makes me think about all the kids that I have coached or taught in some capacity over the years. I have been at Oakhill for 17 years and coached Upward for 10 years.  That is a lot of kids!  Many of them I do not get to see grow up, but some I do; like the students from when I was a youth pastor.  All of those students are grown and have their own kids, some in our children’s ministry.  It is an immense blessing to see these students grow up and live for the Lord.

All of this has me thinking about purpose.  We know that our chief purpose is to bring glory to God, but within that purpose, there are other purposes– like investing in the next generation.  In Psalm 145 David extols the greatness of God at length.  He encourages his people to praise God and lift high his name because the Lord is worthy. He also tells them in verse 4, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”  This means that the older generation must invest spiritually in the younger.  This is congruent with all of scripture.  In the Old Testament, we see many monuments erected so that Israel would remember what God did and how He saved them.  In Joshua 4 the people are commanded to make a monument after crossing the Jordan River so that when their children ask why this pile of rocks is here they can tell of God’s goodness to them.  

We see this principle in the New Testament as well.  Jesus famously rebuked His disciples in Mark 10 for not allowing children to come to Him.  Jesus knew the importance of investing in children.  Likewise, in Titus 2 Paul encourages older men and women to live as an example to the younger generation.  The elders have a responsibility in both word and deed to invest in children.  This is what it means to leave a spiritual legacy.  One of the main purposes in life is to pass on the faith to the younger generation.

The first place this responsibility falls is within the family.  Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. have the responsibility of investing in their own family.  This is a biblical command; however, families are not meant to do this on their own.  The responsibility falls to the wider church to support the families. We are all called to invest in future generations in some way.  You have heard the saying, “It takes a village”.  While this African proverb has been co-opted by politicians in recent years, it doesn’t make it any less true.  Our village is our church!  We need to invest in each other spiritually so we can raise up the next generation for the glory of God.

This means we look for ways to pour into one another. It may be an official program like AWANA, Upward, or the Student Ministry. We must be committed to investing in children in these formal settings.  We can also do this informally through our relationships.  As we come together to meet, worship, and disciple we can influence each other through our examples and our encouragements in the faith.  These kinds of investments are important because they create a strong bond in our “village”.  

My encouragement to you today is to pray about how you can impact the next generation.  It is such a blessing to see young men and women who have come through our ministry out and about in the world.  While they might not all be following the Lord, I know for certain that while I was able to influence them, I pointed them to Jesus.  That’s what this is all about, pointing the next generation to Jesus.  How can you be a part of this great mission for the glory of God?

Posted by Bryan Gotcher with