West Franklin Family,
I am writing this on a Thursday. Last night I had the incredible privilege of watching nine precious and delightful blessings. (Read: Last night I was forced to babysit nine rowdy, nose-runnin’, constant-bathroom-going children because one of the childcare solutions came down with covid.) We sang. We played. We laughed. We yelled. (Read: I made them all go outside and run off as much energy as possible while I tried – and failed – not to sweat or have to run and and do much.) I was so glad to be able to watch the munchkins of joy while their parents studied the Bible and grew as disciples of Jesus. (Read: I was crying out to God to help them hurry and dismiss so the never-ending night of being chased by snotty kids would end.)
Seriously, though. When I learned an extra body needed to be in the back with the children, I was not a happy camper. Ten hours later, however, I had a different frame of mind. (Read: It was only an hour and a half, but it felt like ten hours.) This was the second time in a month I have had the opportunity (Read: was forced) to watch these children on a Wednesday evening. Last night, I really got to enjoy some of these children. (Read: I’m serious this time. I did.) They truly are precious. A joy. Fun. A delight. Full of energy and smiles and constant urges to use the bathroom (what do you parents give these children to drink all the time???). It hit me again how critical it is to bring up the next generation in the ways of Jesus.
News flash: these children grow up to become teenagers. I have three. The teenagers then move on to attend college. My oldest attended his first college fair this week. (Read: send money to my home address – a lot and often.) Before you know it, they are launched. Before you can blink, they have moved from snotty noses to hairy faces and legs to a cap and gown and out of the house. (Read: those people who annoyingly tell you all the time how fast it goes by – they are correct.)
West Franklin is currently looking for a Full-Time NextGen Minister. My hope is to have this person in place by January 2022. My ultimate aim, however, is to find the right person (Read: God’s chosen person to help us in this area) regardless of how long it takes. Who is the right person? Let me share with you two key competencies I am looking for.
First, someone who loves to partner with parents.
At the end of the day, mom and dad are the primary disciplers of their children. Period. The greatest children’s and student ministries in the world cannot compete with how the parents model for and disciple their children in the ways and words of Jesus. I am looking for a NextGen minister who doesn’t see parents as the enemy, but the chief way their children will grow to know, love, and follow Jesus. I want someone who will help parents to this end.
Second, someone who will help us launch our children well.
What I mean is, I am looking for someone who can come and help us develop and execute a discipleship strategy from birth through 12th grade. For instance – if parents of a fourth grader visit our church and ask what they can expect for/from their child if they join West Franklin, I want our NextGen minister to be able to say something like: “When your child graduates from high school in 8 short years, he/she will be able to make disciples of Jesus, have a solid foundation for what and why they believe the Scriptures, have a living and thriving relationship with Jesus, and know they exist to live on mission with Jesus wherever and however God has them.” In other words, I hope to have a clear path for children and students to grow and develop as disciples in order to be launched into the dark world as blazing lights making a kingdom impact.
Does this mean we won’t offer any fun for our children and students? Of course not. I love fun. I love entertainment. I love bells and whistles and things that attract young people. But it will not be the main thing. If that’s what we’re after, we might as well build a theme park in Franklin. Disney World and Six Flags and the Beach do a great job of that already. No. I want to do something these places can’t: develop and build and make and launch Jesus lovers and disciple makers into the world.
I share this with you, West Franklin, because I want to challenge you with two things: (1) Ask yourself, “Is this what I desire for the next generation and am I committed to creating a culture to this end?” and (2) Beg God to bring this to fruition. Ask the Father bring us the right person at the right time. To flood our children with a deep love of Jesus. To help us see that it’s not on the shoulders of one person to make this happen, but a commitment of an entire congregation. To help parents know how and why and when and where to lead their children well.
West Franklin, sooner rather than later (hopefully), we will have a Full-Time NextGen Minister on our staff team. Sooner rather than later we will have someone to watch children on Wednesday nights (sorry – I am still a bit scarred from last evening). Sooner rather than later our kids will grow up and launch into the world. But we do not have to wait do we? We can start right now. Pray. Seek. Ask. Obey. Pray. Trust. Lead. Volunteer. Wipe a nose (or a diaper). Pray. Model. Help. Teach. Pray.
I really did have a fun time with your kids last night. (Read: I was so mad at first, but eventually started to truly enjoy it.) But more than anything I was reminded of how critical this is. Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Even those who have to go to the bathroom – All. The. Time.
Because It’s Worth It,
By the way, I am eager to worship with you in the morning with my Bible open to Matthew 20:1-16 – “God is Generous.”