In his book “Deep & Wide – Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend”, Andy Stanley speaks of the five pillars on which he and his team built a church. The pillars are what he calls the five faith catalysts that all on the Christian walk have experienced to some degree. They are, Practical Teaching, Private Discipline, Personal Ministry, Providential Relationships and Pivotal Circumstances. The book explains how a church can be built to nurture the respective catalysts and empower the congregation to be the Church.
As dads, and as priests in your homes, these catalysts should be nurtured in family as well to empower the next generation to walk boldly in the Truth. Being the Church in family will Create Generational Kingdom Builders.
The first catalyst is “Practical Teaching” – This is when a particularly powerful sermon, a Sunday school study or a radio program clicked with you and brought the word of God into the practical realm of life application. For me, it was a teaching by Dr. Ken Canfield. In that study, it clicked with me that I had a Heavenly Father that could fill the voids in the relationship with my earthly father. In family, you can create opportunities for your kids to experience practical teaching through regular family devotion time, church attendance, youth group activities and retreats.
Second is “Private Discipline” – This is the response to a hunger for more of God through time in prayer, scripture, worship and study of His word. I was convicted to begin the discipline of more time in prayer and reading the Bible. I started with the letters, then the gospels, then back to Genesis and all the way through Revelation. I have since read through several different versions and am now reading The Voice translation. Each time through, scripture strengthens the foundation of my faith. I once heard Alistair Begg, senior pastor at Parkside Church near Cleveland, Ohio, say, “Christians tend to read a lot of stuff and a wee bit of scripture. We ought to be reading a lot of God’s word and a wee bit of that other stuff.” Great advice for us individually and in family to take on a spiritual discipline!
Third is “Personal Ministry” – This is initiated through a glimpse of how the Lord can work through you. Reflect on experiences you have had when ministering in some way. It may be as simple as being available to meet a friend for breakfast or visiting someone in the hospital. It may be a full blown service project or mission trip. Whatever the case, I am confident you experienced what I experienced – “Wow, God! You really touched those folks through me!” I encourage you to look for opportunities to reflect Christ as a family through personal ministry. Start simple and broaden the scope as your children mature.
Fourth is “Providential Relationships” – This is that person, ministry leader or pastor that challenged you to move to new levels of spiritual maturity and then stood beside you on that journey for a time. Dad and Mom assume that role early in the lives of their kids and must be intentional in efforts to continue the spiritual influence through the school years and into adulthood. But it is important to create opportunities for our kids to meet other mature Christians that could be providential relationships in their lives beyond the home. (Resource suggestion – “Sticky Faith” by Powell & Clark)
The final catalyst is “Pivotal Circumstances” – These are happenings in life where you move closer to God or push away from God. They do not have to involve job loss or the loss of a loved one. It may be the big success where you said, “Yeah, me!” instead of, “Yeah, God!” When I participated in a retreat weekend called “Walk to Emmaus”, I was alerted to a number of pivotal circumstances in my life. My response to them was tied very much to the same two tenants Andy Stanley identifies in his book – my worldview and the “friends” I had surrounded myself with. While you can’t control pivotal circumstances that your kids’ will face, you can be an influence on their worldview and the friendships they have.
Worldview – A Christian worldview is one of the most important things you pass on to your kids. Your daily reaction to personal successes and tragedy as well as to local, national and worldwide events must reflect the fact that you serve an omnipotent, omnipresent God. Kids always catch what you’ve got more than what you say. (Resource suggestion – Colson Center for Christian Worldview, www.colsoncenter.org)
Friends, relationships – The devil’s best strategy is to isolate man. When that isn’t enough, he will bring the wrong “friends” into your life. The counter strategy is to build relationships with a few “battle buddies” that are alert to the devil’s schemes and will rebuke unbiblical advice. It is the same for your kids - solid friendships will help see them through some valleys you may not even be aware of. I encourage involvement with youth group activities, opening your home to Bible studies, being a chaperone at various school or church events and being the home your kids’ friends know is full of grace and Truth. Be engaged in your children’s lives to the extent that you know their relationships are healthy.
As you commit to building Church in family, you will be a hero in your children’s eyes.
Tips for Church in family:
- Seek opportunities to hear practical teachings through activities with the Youth group or an outside event where the word of God is spoken.
- Commit a window of time each day to read scripture and pray.
- Involve Mom and kids in developing a family plan for nurturing these five catalysts in the home.
Prayer: Lord, You are an awesome God. You have given fathers responsibility matched only by the opportunity to be an influence for You. Thank You for Your Word that keeps the noise of this world in check. Grant me discipline to read Your word daily, to hear what You have to say and obey. In Your strength I will step forward on the battlefield for family. I will stay involved physically, engaged emotionally and lead spiritually by example. I pray my children will catch what I’ve got, navigate well through the challenges they will face and be Kingdom Builders on the journey. Amen
A faithful father leads in the Way to Church in family.