Dear Church Family,

The fourth section of our newly adopted church covenant reads: “We will strive to bring up our children and any under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and by a pure and loving example to seek the salvation of our family and friends.” To this point, our covenant has focused on how we will relate with the other members within our church, but this section includes how we will interact with those outside the church. Let’s break this into two parts.

1) We will strive to bring up our children and any under our care in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Deuteronomy 6:5-6 laid out a vision for the people of Israel to love the Lord their God with all of their being. Deuteronomy 6:7 laid out a vision for parents to train their children to do the same. Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers to bring up their children “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Notice, who is responsible for training, teaching, and talking with these children about the Lord? Their parents—not their pastor, not their family minister, not their Sunday school teacher—their parents are the ones given the primary responsibility of bringing up their children in this way. Of course, by God’s grace, all these other sources are meant to be beneficial in the children’s lives, but God has so designed the family that parents are blessed with this glorious task.

For those of you who still have children under your care, what does this look like for you? How are you intentionally striving to raise your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? Are you consistently talking about Jesus in your home? Are you reading the bible and singing praise to the Lord habitually? Are you constantly using the everyday opportunities life affords to guide them to the things of God?

I realize most of our congregation is retired and many of you haven’t had children living at home in decades. Does that mean this line of our covenant doesn’t apply to you? Even though you may not have biological or adopted children living at home, you are still called to be a part of the training process. Remember, we are a family. The older are called to teach the younger within the family of God (Titus 2:3-5; cf. Luke 18:29-30). I thank the Lord for those of you who have stepped in as parents for Allison and me since our biological parents are geographically hindered from doing so. I know you will continue to do so for my children as they grow. But let me encourage you to do this even more.

The Great Commission—the call to make disciples—is for all of us. Each member of our church should be intentionally involved in the disciple-making process. I am learning more and more the key word is “intentionally.” If we’re not intentional about redeeming our relationships with one another for the sake of the Gospel, we’ll look back on the years we’ve lived and we may not like the fruit we’ll see. There are dozens of young people desperately in need of being taught to know the Lord, but they lack the godly parents to show them the way. You can be involved in God’s working in their life through something as simple as getting to know them and talking about the Bible. If you would like to know how you might get started, talk to Nathan or me and we would be excited to walk through the process with you.

2) We will seek the salvation of our family and friends by a pure and loving example.

As Christians, we must tell the good news of Jesus Christ to those God has placed in our path. We should pray that God would burden our hearts for the lost. There are lots of ways to go about sharing the Gospel with unbelievers, but I think we’ve probably all found that there are even more excuses. We need to repent of our cowardice and apathy and commit ourselves to love those around us by telling them about Jesus with boldness—which is how we ought to tell them.

Most of us have probably heard someone say, “Preach the Gospel and when necessary, use words.” I appreciate the sentiment, but if we don’t use words, we haven’t preached the Gospel. This covenant commitment talks about “a pure and loving example” but this is intended to be connected with passages like John 13:35, 1 Peter 3:1-2, 14 that instruct us to win an audience for the Gospel through the way we live. We may feel like those who know us best are the worst audience for us to share the Gospel with because they know our struggle with sin, but actually they are the best audience. Over the long haul, as we live with and among those who know us, they should see our fruit and notice the truth we believe in action. Then, we will be ready to tell them the word of Christ in order that they might believe. Don’t give up when you don’t see immediate interest in the lives of those you love. Keep praying and seeking to win an audience through your life that you might tell them the message of salvation.