Since arriving at Lilydale Baptist Church, Vaughan and I have been enjoying getting to know the families at LBC; having conversations with families, sharing meals, and enjoying simply spending time together, as we settle into LBC.

Coming into the role of Children’s Ministry Leader at LBC, a question that I often think about is this: what does the Bible have to say about families? I think we would all agree that children are affirmed in the Bible as important to, and loved by, God. But what about families? When we look at the Bible, we see that families, or households, are important to God. God starts His story with family, in the creation of Adam and Eve and their children. At significant points in the history of God’s people, families are present; for example, when God renews His covenant with the Israelites in Moab, everyone was assembled before the Lord God, and children are specifically mentioned (Deuteronomy 29:10-12) We are told that children “do not yet know good from bad” (Deuteronomy 1:39), and so parents are to nurture, teach, and guide children, helping them to develop intellectually, morally, emotionally and spiritually (eg. Proverbs 22:6, Ephesians 6:4). In the most well-known reference, parents are to teach the love of God with the whole heart (Deuteronomy 6:5-7).

If you are a parent of young children at LBC, what does this mean for us? Well, the Bible affirms parents as being primarily responsible for forming and nurturing our children’s faith (but don’t worry, we are not alone in this!).    As parents, we have the blessing and responsibility of being the most important people who can have meaningful conversations with our kids about spiritual matters, beliefs, values and the Bible. We bear the primary responsibility to, as Scripture encourages, model, teach, encourage, train, correct, and discipline our children, all in the context of a loving and understanding relationship. As a parent, I certainly feel the weight of this responsibility. And so I want to encourage you with what comforts me in these moments. Firstly, I will never do any of this perfectly. But I can always run like a young child into the arms of our loving Father, and rest in His inexhaustible forgiveness and strength.

The second thing I am comforted by is the community of faith at Lilydale Baptist Church, and the role the church plays. Being part of God’s family at LBC means partnering with brothers and sisters in Christ in raising our children to love and serve Jesus. Together, across generations, we have the privilege and responsibility to love, encourage and nurture parents in their role of primary faith-nurturers, as together we help kids walk in the footsteps of Jesus. In fact, research has shown that for discipleship of kids to be a transformational experience that results in a lifelong walk with Jesus, inter generational connections are key; powerful faith formation happens when generations come together and see that we can all learn from each other!

Chris Barras, Children’s Ministry Leader