Preparing Future Generations
God has entrusted the future generations of this congregation into our care. The future of this congregation will be composed of the following: 1) Our current children, 2) People who may move to this area, and 3) People we may be converted through our evangelistic efforts. Of these three, we can affect only two: Our children’s growth and development and people being converted through ongoing evangelistic efforts.
The psalmist writes, “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward” (Psalms 127:3, NKJV) God has entrusted children into the care of their parents. As such, parents love their children, care for their children, and rear their children so as to yield future faithful followers of God. The importance of this task is seen throughout the history of God’s word. Moses told the nation of Israel to teach God’s word to their children. Moses wrote: “Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in 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, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, NKJV) In the subsequent verses, Moses warns Israel to take care they do not forget the Lord once they have become established in the land of Canaan. Moses wrote, “. . . beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage” (Deuteronomy 6:12, NKJV) Sadly, after the days of Joshua, “another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10, NKJV). After the death of Joshua and his generation, the families who comprised the nation of Israel began failing to properly prepare their children to serve God.
The apostle Paul, through inspiration, emphasized the same need to properly prepare one’s “heritage,” or children, for service unto God. The apostle Paul wrote, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV). (The NIV renders this section as “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”) Clearly we understand the primary purpose for training one’s children in the instruction of the Lord is the salvation of their souls. However, the local congregation benefits from such training in that the children grow up to be faithful members of a local congregation, actively working with the congregation.
Just as God has given parents the charge to train their children in the instruction of the Lord, so to has God given the local congregation the responsibility to instruct all who attend (both young and old) in the way of the Lord. Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2) and to teach the things he had heard to “faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the apostle Paul reminded the brethren of the purpose behind apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Such are to be used for the “equipping of the saints for the work of ministry” and “for the edifying of the body of Christ.” (See Ephesians 4:11-16)
One method employed by this congregation to instruct all who attend are our Bible classes. However, the effectiveness of our Bible classes hinges upon how well the students (and teachers) prepare at home. Bible classes are not a substitute for home Bible study. Our Bible classes are intended to augment or aid one’s efforts to better learn God’s word.
Parents, you need to make certain your family is prepared for Bible class. Take the charge and remind your children to do their Bible lessons, with you setting the example by doing your Bible lesson. (Parents, if your Bible class does not have a regular lesson, then take the opportunity to study alongside your children as they do their Bible lessons.) Teachers, spend the proper time preparing for the lesson you are going to teach. Give consideration to possible visuals and examples which would help to show the lesson in application. Remember, teaching a class is not about simply covering the material. Teaching a class is about imparting God’s word in a way which will embed His word into the students’ hearts.
How well are we preparing the future generations of this congregation? Only time will tell.