COVID-19 UPDATE: Anthem is only gathering online via our livestream.

Family Discipleship | The Path Forward for Anthem Kids

Anthem Parents,

It goes without saying, and we have heard it ad nauseum and experienced it deeply: 2020 has been a rough year for all of us. For parents, we not only feel our own disappointment, fear, and pain of this year, but we carry with us the anxiety of the ways we know this is season is affecting our children. We fear for their physical health in the midst of a pandemic; we fear for their emotional health in a turbulent and divisive world; we fear for their relational health as they remain isolated from many or most of the people they hold dear; we fear for their spiritual health as church life has been turned upside down for the past seven months.

For some time, all of us, including the staff and pastors here at Anthem, were holding our breath, hoping and praying that church community, including Anthem Kids, would return to normal. However, the reality of the situation is apparent: it is unclear when, if ever, we can expect things to be exactly as they were before March of 2020.

So, as we have with nearly all of our other ministries at Anthem, it is time to innovate in the ways we minister to our children. To do so, we start as we always should, with Holy Scripture.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” – Deuteronomy 6:5-7

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” – Ephesians 4:11-16

A biblical theology of raising children in the Lord is summarized well in these two verses. What they highlight is a healthy and integrated pattern for the most effective way to point our children to Jesus. We love Anthem Kids, and we are always going to be committed to proving a safe, fun, and engaging place for them to experience community and learn about Jesus on a Sunday morning, whenever that is tenable again. However, what our current season has afforded us is actually an opportunity to pause, reflect on what we are doing, and re-engage in patterns of ministry and life that are actually more life-giving and productive.

As we look at Scripture, here is what remains clear:
  1. While it is the church’s job to care for all its members, young and old, it is primarily the role of the parents to disciple their children and to model a life of obedience to Christ. The church helps with this and fills in the holes and cracks that each family has, but the responsibility of discipleship of children remains first with the child’s parents.
  2. It is the church’s job to equip the saints for the work of ministry, and one of the primary ministries of a parent (aside from that to their spouse, if applicable) is to their children. Therefore, while churches can and should teach children in various capacities, a more faithful model is for the church to equip parents to shepherd, lead, and teach their own children.

We desire to grow in both of these convictions in our body, believing them to be the most biblical and helpful means for discipline the children we are accountable for. In light of our goal to grow into a church that serves parents and families in this way, here is what we are committing to in this season:

  • We are committed to engaging with the families of Anthem. In as much as we are able with our current restrictions, we will do what we can to provide or point to family-friendly events for consistent community engagement. Keep a close eye on our events page (anthemchurch.net/events) and on the events tab in the app for upcoming opportunities. We even have such an event coming up on November 7.
  • We are committed to edifying the families of Anthem. Our role in discipling parents must extend past events or a list of “to-dos” – we want to be a place of encouragement and dialogue for those struggling with the challenges of parenting in this unique time. The primary venue for this will continue to be men’s and women’s ministries, but we are hoping to develop more parent-specific venues in the near future as well.
  • We are committed to equipping the families of Anthem. In addition to weekly content posted to our news tab (on the home page of the app), we are looking into other more corporate ways to place practical instruction and tools in the hands of our parents. We desire that all of us grow in the grace afforded us in that gospel, and that this grace may translate to lives lived for him, our families being transformed along the way.

A few more pastoral exhortations:
  1. Wherever you are as a parent, we encourage you to engage with us. We aren’t perfect, and we don’t have all of the answers, but it’s amazing how the grace and peace of God visits us as we live in community and seek his truth in his word together. Burdens are lifted as we learn and seek him and his will together.
  2. Don’t give up. We know you have been pushed, stretched, challenged, and discouraged in this season as parents. We encourage you to take to heart the encouragement provided by the writer of Hebrews: “…lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed” (Hebrews  12:12-13). Your work of discipling your children is vitally important and valuable.
  3. Embrace the privilege. Consider the following quote by Elisabeth Elliot: “The job as been given to me to do. Therefore it is a gift. Therefore it is a privilege. Therefore it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Therefore it is the route to sanctity. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”

In addition, please take a few moments to offer some feedback by filling out the brief form below. What are some ways we might be able to serve you as parents in this time? What tools do you feel you need? What has been challenging? How can we pray?

We look forward to the future of Anthem Kids as we join with you in making Jesus known to them.

In Him,
Andrew

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2020

Categories

no categories

Tags