I love getting an opportunity to spend time listening to Reggie Joiner share his passion for the Orange Strategy. I did just that this afternoon. I popped in the DVD “What If” and spent 78 minutes with him teaching leaders to answer that question.
I took many notes, and often nodded in agreement to concepts I have heard him present in other gatherings. He told a story that particularly caught my attention today.
Reggie shares the account of a time he was having a very loud discussion with his daughter. Without giving specifics, he described the exchange as one of getting louder and more intense. Then something happened that he hadn’t seen coming. His daughter, in a way that only a daughter can do, lobbed a statement that took his breath away. It was a wounding statement, and Reggie reacted.
He did not yell, he didn’t ground her – he simply turned, walked out of the room and went out to the garage. Then he got in the car, and drove away. After about 15 minutes of driving, his daughter called him to apologize, and then made this statement: “Why did you walk away? I need to know I’m worth fighting for.”
What stuck me about this, was that our families need to know the same thing. When ministry gets tough, we tend to pull back on the things that seem to run themselves – or don’t show up as crisis driven things. I fear that in many churches, we figure that the family will still be there “tomorrow”. But statistics show us that they just walk away – not angry, or loudly – just quitely go because no one is fighting for them.
In the Old Testament we find the book of Nehemiah. He was the king’s cup-bearer – this was the man chosen and trusted to bring the wine (after tasting it) to the king. The job of cupbearer was one of highest honour, and truly fitting of Nehemiah. Although he was one of the most trusted men in Persia – his heart was in Jerusalem. When he learned that the Temple was being rebuilt, he grew concerned because he knew there were no walls left to protect it.
Nehemiah, trusting God’s direction, asked the king for leave of his post to go and help rebuild the wall. Many people were against this, including those who sought to take over Jerusalem for their own purposes. But Nehemiah followed his instinct and did what they told him to do. So, in Neh 4:13, we read his solution to keep the situation safe.
“So I put people behind the lowest places along the wall – the open places – and I put families together with their swords, spears, and bows. Then I looked around and stood up and said to the important men, the leaders, and the rest of the people: ‘Don’t be afraid for them. Remember the Lord, who is great and powerful. Fight for your brothers, your sons and daughters, your wives and your homes“.
Wow, if ever a passage of scripture jumped out from a message for me – it was this. I constantly stand in awe at how God’s Word speaks to situations today. Our children are being attacked by the Enemy in the open places – at school, through T.V. ads, competition for their time on all fronts – to keep their focus off meeting the Living, Loving God of Creation. If we don’t stand in the gap, by strengthening families – we will lose this generation.
The Body of Christ, must together position ourselves to show families that they are worth fighting for. Nehemiah reminded the faithful in Jerusalem to trust the Lord, because He is great and powerful. We, too, must do the same thing. Sometimes it feels like it’s a losing battle, but the victory will be God’s – if we truly trust Him to do so.
Churches for too long have thought that if we “allow” families to just be among us, encourage them to be busy for Christ, and let the Children’s Ministry instruct their children – all will be fine, and we will produce Christ followers out of the children who come through our doors.
We are now seeing just how wrong we are. Church, we were never given that job… nowhere instructs the Children’s Pastor to teach the foundations of faith. It was designed to be done in the family setting. To be passed from generation to generation. Oops! We have generations who have never been taught the stories of our Faith. To see the power and tenderness of the God of the Universe. We have generations who don’t know the touch of the Father who gave His only Son to pay our penalty, all just to bring us into relationship with Him.
Who am I fighting for? Every family who is trying to see that their lives matter, that their child’s eternity is at stake, and don’t know where to find the answer. The Church needs to fight – through prayer, resources and love – to come alongside our families and outfit them to stand at the gap for their children and protect the generation from destruction. Are you willing to stand with me?