ApParent Privilege. Steve Wright with Chris Graves. Inquest Ministries: Wake Forest, NC. 175 pages. $14.99.
Steve Wright, as a follow-up to his book on the new reality in youth ministry, ReThink, spoke directly to parents in his book, ApParent Privilege. Steve, pastor of student ministries at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC, along with his wife, Tina, have 3 teenagers under their roof. In this book, they give practical and theological advice to other parents who are, with God’s help, trying to raise sons and daughters in the 21st Century. His premise is that the parents hold the biblical mandate to be the primary spiritual shapers (disciplers) of their own children.
From the outset, I would highly recommend (and or give) this book to everyone who is expecting a baby, has a baby, toddler, child, or teenager. No matter what age, it is never to late to start training your children in the ways of God. Over the past 2 ½ years, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know Steve and Tina, and know they practice what they preach.
This book is not all theory. It is coveted truths from Scripture and practical wisdom from the heart of a dad who loves his children. Two chapters in particular lay this foundation: "Chapter 5: A Parent’s Tasks: Foundations of Christian Parenting," and "Chapter 7: A Parent’s Tools: Real Ideas to Make Discipleship Happen."
"Your parenting affects more than your child's here and now. It affects generations to come and their eternity" (94)
Dr. Randy Stinson, Dean of the School of Church Ministry at Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY, spoke on this topic at Re:Think, a conference held in May 2009 at Providence Baptist Church. I remember him saying that we don't parent and do ministry just for our children, but for our children's children, and their children, and their children. Think future. Think eternity.
“If the cross of Christ is the center of history, then it must also be the center of our lives as well as the center of our communication with our children" (54)
At Sojourn, one of the core values is the gospel. The elders come back to the gospel at the end of every sermon. This quote should resonate with every Christian parent’s heart. This will not happen if we are left to ourselves, but we can pray that the Spirit would deepen our longing for the hearts of our children to know the saving power of the cross of Christ. So often parents talk with their kids about all else excepting the gospel. This book offers practical advice of how to work the gospel into conversations around the dinner table, the car rides, or special “dates” with your kids.
Maybe you just work with kids as a volunteer in a children’s ministry program, and you don’t have any children of your own (or maybe both apply to you). I don’t have any children but I do like to work with children at church or in child care settings. I love hearing them sing, their voices so cute (and you know there is always one who is waiving to the camera or not paying any attention at all). This quote made me cry (and I was on a plane with others around me): "The responsibility to teach our children the incredible truths of God may seem overwhelming, but the Bride of Christ is there to help. She will teach you how to teach. She will train you how to train. You cannot do it alone." (109) We have a challenge ahead of us, to come alongside parents and be a source of encouragement for them, to help equip them, to love them and their children, and to point their children to Christ.
So, my advice: Go buy this book. If you are a parent, go get it. If you know someone having a baby - get it for them. Buy the youth pastor at your church this book. Tell him to read it. Just read it. Then live it and practice it. By God's grace and for His glory. For eternity.
Kim Davidson is currently a Sojourn member who serves at Sojourn's East Campus.