I’ve known for a long time that it takes more than Sunday school and Christian music to raise kids who wholeheartedly want to love God and to serve others. I’ve known that parenting is a more than a decision of quality vs quantity, more than VBS and summer camp, and more than getting kids to pray “the sinners prayer.” If “getting kids saved” is what it all about, then why couldn’t I just rest secure knowing that my three older kids had prayed to ask God to live in their hearts and that the younger two were bound to do the same? Why do I always want to talk about intentional parenting, love languages, homeschooling, modeling behavior, character training, discipline, and more? Why couldn’t I just be a “normal” parent?
It’s because I want more and I want others to want more.
Many kids today are being raised in Christian homes. They are going to Sunday School and VBS, their families are hanging out with other Christian families, and they are being exposed to the life-giving truth of the Bible. However, these same children – in their young adult years – are walking away from the faith. In addition, many Christian and church-going adults today simply appear to be direct replicas of their non-believing counterparts: totally entrenched in the American dream and the never-ending quest for more stuff, more power, and more personal happiness.
Why is this happening? If we are exposing our kids to the word of God, why isn’t it working? Why do only 36% of adolescents believe that the Bible is accurate in all of its principles? Why do only 46% of young people claim that their faith is important in their lives? Why do only 4 out of 10 of kids live out their lives with the purpose in mind to love God with all their hearts, minds, strength, and soul?*
It’s because parents are not preparing the soil.
If you go back to Matthew 13, you will read that the “seed” being sown was the word of God. Isaiah 55:11 says that God’s word will not return void. Therefore we can accurately conclude that there is nothing wrong with the seed. In the four scenarios listed, the same seed (the word of God) was sown, and yet the results varied. So maybe it isn’t just about what we put into our kids. Maybe Christian parents need to spend more time focusing on what they are putting the good seed into – namely, the soil of their children’s hearts.
There are four kinds of sowing going on in Christian families:
- Seeds that fall on the road. The seeds aren’t purposefully placed. They just happen to fall haphazardly along the way. The seeds are good, remember. But they fall and the birds eat them up just as fast as they fall. No plants there.
- Seeds that fall on the rocky places. The seeds are placed, but the soil has no depth and there are obstacles everywhere. The rocks prevent any roots from forming so when the sun comes out, the plants wither.
- Seeds that fall among the thorns. These seeds spring up but the thorns (the worries of the world and the deceitfulness of riches) choke the word and the plants become unfruitful.
- Seeds that fall on the good soil. Seeds that fall on cultivated soil. These plants…and only these plants…bear fruit.
Good parenting – parenting that yields fruit-bearing children – involves more than just exposing children to “good” things. The soil of their hearts needs to be prepared. It needs to be cultivated. The stumbling blocks need to removed, the thorns need to be ripped out, and the seeds need to be purposefully placed. Dry soil – soil in need of love, understanding, forgiveness, gentleness, and patience – will not produce. Rocky soil – soil filled with stumbling blocks of sin, temptation, anger, negligence, worry, loneliness, and fear – will not produce. Thorn-covered soil – soil filled with dangerous thorns of materialism, desires for popularity, and a me-first mentality – will not produce. Only the good soil – the prepared soil – will bear fruit. And what it produces could be thirty-, sixty-, or even a hundredfold!
And so there you have it – Preparing the Soil. My goal, my desire, and my burning passion is to prepare the soil of my children’s hearts and to encourage others to do the same. Will you join me? Together, we can cultivate the hearts of those who have been entrusted to us. Be it your kids, your grand-kids, the students in your class, or the children next door, let us strive to prepare the soil of children’s hearts so that when the seed of the Word of God is planted, it is able to bear fruit.
Next post: I’ll flesh out a little of what all this means on a post-to-post basis!