Thursday, October 22, 2009

Discipling Children: Whose Job Is It Anyway?

A couple of quotes from the book Perspectives on Family Ministry: Three Views, edited by Timothy Paul Jones:
"The idea that any age-focused ministry possesses the capacity or principal responsibility to lead students toward spiritual maturity represents a radical departure not only from the teachings of Scripture but also from centuries of Christian expectation and practice. Yet that seems to be precisely the perspective of many contemporary Christian parents and churches. The discipleship of children is perceived to be the task of the church's programs, not of the children's parents." (p. 22, italics added)

"From the perspective of too many parents, schoolteachers are responsible to grow their children's minds, coaches are employed to train their bodies, and specialized ministers at church ought to develop their souls. When it comes to schooling and coaching, these perspectives may or may not be particularly problematic. When it comes to Christian formation, however, this perspective faces a single critical snag: God specifically calls believing parents to the task of training their children in the Christian faith. This is one task that, from the persepective of Scripture, parents simply cannot hire someone else to do." (p. 23, italics added)

What Precisely Is the Gospel?

That's the question Jeff Purswell seeks to answer today in an excellent post at the Sovereign Grace Ministries Blog. Here's part of his conclusion:
So what is the gospel?

Although this brief survey is far from complete, it consistently reveals that the gospel is good news concerning Jesus and what he did to accomplish salvation for sinners.

In other words, the gospel is objective. It tells us what God has done to save his people. It consists of concrete, historical events, rooted in Old Testament promises, types, and institutions that were fulfilled in Jesus. It promises that all who trust in Christ and his work will receive forgiveness and life. Of course, this isn’t merely a catalogue of events of only historical interest; all of this has massive implications for our lives. But we must not confuse the gospel message itself with the outworking of those implications.


If the gospel message expands to include “discipleship in the kingdom,” then the objective nature of Christ’s work is minimized. When the gospel is redefined as a call to a social or political movement, Christ’s work is replaced with ours. When the gospel includes my response, then the ground of my assurance lies in me rather than in Christ. Indeed, anytime we shift the definition of the gospel from God’s objective accomplishment to our subjective appropriation, the rock-solid foundation of our faith is misplaced—and the glory of God in the gospel is obscured.