Lee Harder, senior pastor at the Red Roof Church in Bulverde, Texas, wishing you God’s blessings as we meet for this week’s vlog. The great folks at St. Paul would love to have you join us for worship this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 AM. We promise that our fellowship of believers is where God’s Word is heard every week right from the heart of Scripture.
School here in San Antonio is now back in session. Spring break is over and the kids are back in school. That means our Christian Day School is also back in session for the week as well. I can’t wait. It means tomorrow (I’m writing this vlog on Monday the 18th.) and Wednesday I have chapel with them. I love sharing the stories of the Bible with the kids. They’re so eager and receptive. They want to be there.
I can’t tell you how important I think it is for children to know the pastor and as more than that strange guy in front of church. Besides, the payoff is huge. We have a few of our Christian Day School families who are disciples of the congregation. There is something gloriously magical and uplifting to have a young child run up to you before worship, face beaming, to hug your leg or hear them call out to their parents in the grocery store, “That’s my pastor!” Some of my most cherished possessions are a tree painted on a canvas with thumb prints for leaves in various colors of the children of the Day School and a hot pad (for the pastor chef) with prints from the kids (different year, similar idea).
The same contact is important when children get older and enter into more formal Christian education. I can’t fathom why a pastor wouldn’t want to be the primary teacher for understanding the basics of what we believe and why. I believe it’s a big part of the pastor’s responsibility and promised obligation when one becomes a pastor.
Our role as pastor is to preach and teach the good news of Jesus Christ. That means to all levels and ages. Connected to that is our commitment to equip the saints (including the young) to be true disciples of Christ so they can share their faith in the world. Despite rumors to the contrary, that is the work of the pastor (and administering the sacraments). This idea of “Let the pastor do it” is neither scriptural nor practical. No pastor can do it all and Jesus in the Great Commission never intended it to be that way.
We are a priesthood of believers who are all responsible to proclaim Christ and share our faith with the world. That’s our call as Christians. Yes, we need someone who can effectively help us develop the tools and confidence to go out into the world which is the challenge and role of the pastor.
I have another reason for teaching the children and youth. I want them to feel comfortable around the pastor. I want them to know they can trust me so if they need to talk or have fears and concerns, they can come to me confident that I will try to help.
Yet, a pastor can’t do it alone, even with a congregation willing to provide all the necessary resources. It takes the parents to make the commitment to encourage and demand their children of all ages receive sound Christian education. It is here I fear we are letting our children down. Sunday school, Vacation Bible School, confirmation or its equivalent are falling by the wayside. That might be okay if it is time for these approaches to evolve into something else more effective. The problem is, they are not evolving. They are just slowly dying as fewer and fewer parents are having their children attend to learn and grow.
I remember as a kid growing up and especially as a teenager going to confirmation, Christian education wasn’t always a high priority or great love for me. There were many Sundays I didn’t want to go. Thankfully, my parents didn’t give me a choice. I went. They made sure I went even if it was inconvenient for them. They knew it was important and acted accordingly.
I suspect this might be where some of the problem rests. Our children are doing more and more running of the parents’ lives instead of the reverse. I’m sure the ever greater influence and demands of the schools, especially in athletics, have added pressures of their own. Still, since when did children get to vote in decisions or dictate what they will or will not do? When did children get to be adults? Aren’t we as parents, the adults, supposed to show them by our example how to grow up to be responsible adults? Maybe I missed something in my childhood. Yes, my parents taught us to think and express an opinion, but they made the decisions, not me or my siblings.
I know, there are tremendous pressures on a family from the outside. The school places demands on family time. Sports & club sports place even more demands. Added to that are demands from the workplace and, if possible, the chance to play. The family in church, worshiping, sharing, growing and playing together in a Christian atmosphere is becoming a relic of the past. In my heart I believe that as it suffers because of a distracted lack of interest, so the family suffers because of a lack for the spiritual bond that gives the family meaning and holds it together.
My word of encouragement to parents is, “Take a time out!” However, make it a time out for the family to come closer to a God who loves them and cares for them and died for them.
And those are my thoughts.
Pastor Lee R. Harder