The Harvest Starts at Home

by Pastor Nate Powell
As promised, we want to spend the next several weeks talking about the Harvest. When we talk about harvest, we are talking about growing the church, people coming to faith, families growing in faith together, and the Kingdom of God advancing in the world around us.
It couldn’t be a better week to talk about this Harvest starting at home, as we celebrated our child dedication this past Sunday, and had three families celebrate with us and commit to raising their child in a Christian home to know the Lord. This is an honorable and good thing, and one of the best ways to grow a church is to build an environment in which families can flourish. It is, after all, the creation mandate that God gives to all people from the beginning in Genesis: “Be fruitful & multiply.” (Gen 1:28) So, to all the moms & dads that are working hard to have, raise, provide & care for the next generation of children, we just want to say: “Good job!” To have growing families is the baseline growth of the church.
But we know that having kids isn’t all there is to growing a church, right? No, we believe that the discipleship and faith investments of parents are essential as well. After all, the scripture reminds us:
  • Jesus, as a young boy, “grew in wisdom, and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:52).
  • We are to train up children in the way they should go, and when they are old they will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)
  • We are to discipline our children, so that they will give us rest and be the delight of our hearts. (Prov 29:17)
  • We are to raise up our children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)
The Bible is clear: we have a mandate as the people of God to raise our children with the aim that they will be faithful disciples of Jesus. How do you do that? Well, I’d like to give a few points of guidance and encouragement in guiding your children to be a part of this harvest for the Lord.
  1. Make church a priority: This is probably the biggest indicator to your children about the reality and priority of your faith. Hebrews 10:24-25 remind us that we are to press each other forward as believers and not neglect meeting together. It is at the core of gathering that we devote ourselves to fellowship, to the teaching of the Word, to the breaking of bread and to prayer together (Acts 2:42). Even when we aren’t the Christians we always want to be, church marks a habit, a point of repentance, and an opportunity for renewal in faith. If we consistently allow other activities, sports, reunions & trips to get in the way, it sends the message to our families that says, “Everything else in my life is non-negotiable … church & Christ are optional.” Don’t be surprised if your kids wind up far from the Lord if you haven’t put him first with regard to the priority of gathering with your church family.
  2. Model Real Christianity for your kids: With regard to your home, it is the petri dish in which your kids get to observe Christianity lived out. Each of our families is messy. We mess up. We get angry sometimes. We sin against one another. Those are givens, and they happen in every family. But the thing that will set your Christian home apart from a non-christian or fake Christian home is this: Are you actually doing the things that a Christian would do? When you sin against your spouse in front of your kids, do you repent in front of your kids? When you don’t keep your word as a parent, do you admit what you’ve done and ask for forgiveness? Are you consistent in putting into practice the principles you say you believe? Are you seeking to grow and practice the Fruit of the Holy Spirit’s presence within your family? The more we model real faith, the more our children will find desirable our faith.
  3. Read the scripture to your kids: This starts from a young age. Reading aloud is, in general, one of the best things you can do to stimulate your child’s mental development and reading abilities. But it applies even more to the sharing of the stories of the Bible and reading God’s word together. At early stages, it can start with picture books of the Bible. It can move to other Bible storybooks as they get older. And your family can find ways to incorporate reading Scripture around a mealtime or bedtime together as they get older … even encouraging your older children to read the Bible for themselves. Read & talk. This will grow their faith and give you opportunities to express yours.
  4. Have spiritual conversations: Everyday can be a day filled with opportunities for spiritual conversations. When the kids are young, it can simply be marveling at God’s creation, from trees to animals. As they grow, the conversations can expand to encompass many things, and how your faith helps you to understand and answer many of life’s toughest questions. Be honest when you don’t know answers, and guide them back to the scriptures and your church family for support.
  5. Be praying for and expecting decisions and commitments to Christ: most of all, pray for your kids, and be praying for their faith and salvation. In praying for it, we will become expectant and waiting for conversations related to our kids’ salvation. Do they know what sin is? Do they know what Jesus did and why he died for them? Do they know what Jesus is offering them, and how he desires a new life and heart for them? Be ready for this and have ready answers to guide them in committing their lives to Christ.
Moms and Dads, you have one of the toughest jobs in the world. I know it, because I’ve lived it with you. But it is one of the most rewarding when we see our kids living fruitful and Christ-filled lives. I’m glad to be a resource walking on the journey with you. As your kids are ready to receive Christ as savior and Lord, let’s be ready for the harvest!
Pastor Nate