I read a statistic from The Barna Group that says this:
70% of all young people who grow up in church leave the church by their 20’s.The Barna Group
Let that sink in for a second
I remember growing up in my dad’s church, when they were renting a building from another church. I became really good friends with the pastor’s kid from the other church. We would hang out all of the time! But then years went by and we lost touch. When we both became adults, I found him on Facebook, but he wasn’t the same person I knew from before. He covered himself in piercings and tattoos. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with tattoos or piercings. But it was clear that he did it as an act of rebellion. He became an atheist and was completely against the church. I couldn’t believe it. How can a pastor’s kid grow up in church and then become an atheist? So I messaged him asking him what happened.
He told me that all he found in the church was judgment and no love.
Church, we need to wake up to what’s happening in our world. I am convinced that a healthy church requires healthy families. I’ve counseled people for years, have been counseled myself, and have studied psychology in school, and I’ve learned more and more that our childhood shapes our adulthood. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and behavior, but our childhood and how we were raised can really influence the kind of people we become. I truly believe that the church is the hope of the world, but I also believe that if families are unhealthy, the church will also be unhealthy.
Today’s talk is entitled: I Will Lead My Family to be Healthy Church Members.
Whether you have children or not, whether you’re still living with your siblings or not, married, unmarried, it doesn’t matter. All of this applies to you.
Today, I want to answer this question: What can we do to lead our family to be healthy church members? I want to look at the example of Jacob and his family.
Please open to the book of Genesis chapter 35.
Feel free to take out our sermon notes on our app and follow along with me as we dive into God’s Word. Download our church app here.
Before we start reading, let me explain to you the context of the story. God chose a man named Abraham to be the father of many nations. He promised that through the line of Abraham will
So how would you even begin to fix this?
As parents, as a family member, how do we even find hope in a family that went through a traumatic event and sons who committed murder? Well, we can take the example of Jacob and see how he dealt with this situation. We’re going to see at least 5 things he did. This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it’s a good start to lead our families to be healthy church members.
So let’s begin by reading verse 1.
God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.Genesis 35:1
So how can we lead our family to be healthy church members? Here’s the first thing we must do.
1. Obey God’s calling.
God was calling Jacob
Sometimes, we have to go back to the place we encountered God.
Sometimes our faith becomes weak and we get distracted. Sometimes, we forget how powerful and how good God is. We start to focus so much on our own issues and problems and our mind leads us away from God. We need to hold onto those times when we knew without a doubt, God was there.
How have you encountered God?
Has He delivered you from harm? Maybe something could have gone terribly wrong, but you came out of it safely
Later when she was back home, the police called her to write up a report and they told her, “We don’t know what happened and who was looking out for you, but whoever it was saved your life.”
How have you encountered God?
Has He given you a chance to feel His presence? Has He touched your heart while you were at a church service? Maybe you remember the day Jesus saved you. Maybe you were here at this church, or some other church. Or maybe it was during a worship song or sermon.
Here’s the truth, God will continue to call you back to Himself
Let’s read verse 2.
So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.Genesis 35:2
So how do we lead our family to be healthy church members? Obey God’s calling, but also:
2. Put sin to death.
When Jacob’s two sons killed all of the men in the city of Shechem, they took a bunch of stuff. This included their idols of worship and jewelry that were used to worship their false gods. Jacob was leading his family by telling them to get rid of their false gods. But he also told them, “I want you to shower and put on your best clothes. We’re going to church to worship God!”
But here’s a detail we might miss. Going to Bethel to worship God wasn’t a walk down the street. This was about 20 miles away and it was 1,000 feet higher in elevation. So it wasn’t a stroll in the park. This was going to be a hike and a half to worship God. Today, we can worship God anywhere, but back then, they had to travel.
Melinda and I have been trying the Konmarie method by Marie Kondo.
When we’re thinking about whether a shirt gives us joy or not, we think, “Wait, this can be used for when we paint or work out and get sweaty. So no, it doesn’t give me joy, but we need older clothes for stuff like that.” It makes sense right? Logically speaking, we shouldn’t wear our best clothes to paint or do work that will cause us to sweat.
But here, Jacob is asking his family to shower and put on their best clothes to start a journey that would most obviously ruin their clothes. They’re walking in the dirt for three days. This is a long journey! Why put on your best clothes if it’s only going to get ruined? This didn’t make logical sense!
But do you know what this is? It’s the symbolic meaning of preparing our hearts to worship God. The very act of showering and putting on clean clothes to worship God is in itself worship to God!
Are you preparing your heart to encounter God on Sundays?
You know, our church was never the kind of church where you have to dress to impress. You don’t have to wear a tie. We just want you to wear clothes
I cannot stress enough the importance of putting sin to death.
I’m even planning on preaching an entire sermon on just this point! Jacob is leading his family to change their ways. The way we act, talk, behave, the things we post, it all has an effect on the people around us, our family, our children! Let me tell you something that you may or may not know.
Pornography is one of the worst poisons in our society, and guess what, your children might have full access to it.
Today, it’s easier more than ever to access explicit material. If your child has access to the internet, as a parent, I beg of you, you MUST know what websites they’re visiting. You MUST install a filter on their phones, on their computers, and on their tablets. If you need help with that sort of thing, I can help you.
PLEASE, do NOT make the mistake of being silent about this.PLEASE, do NOT make the mistake of thinking your child is so young and innocent and they would never do that! According to a 2012 study from the University of Sydney, 43% of the 800 people surveyed started viewing porn between the ages of 11 and 13.
Jacob led his family and told them to get rid of their gods.
For parents, that might mean limiting what they watch, doing some research BEFORE you allow them to play a video game or a TV show. Parents are freaking about this whole momo thing, and while it’s terrible and demonic, children have been exposed to far worse before this came around.
Church, let’s put sin to death for the sake of our family.
It will strengthen your family and strengthen our church! Let’s run away from the way the world deals with issues. We deal with issues by getting rid of our sin. Let’s purify ourselves. Let’s prepare our hearts to worship God!
Ok, let’s move on to verse 3.
Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.Genesis 35:3
How can we lead our family to be healthy church members?
3. Lead your family by example.
Jacob was an example to his family. He said, “We’re going to Bethel and I will make an altar to God so we can worship! This is the place God spoke to me!”
It’s always been our vision to make church fun for children. We’ve had children beg their parents to come back. But parents, listen up. Even when they don’t want to wake up to go to church, guess who’s the boss in your family? YOU ARE!
Along the years of being a pastor, I’ve heard parents say, “Oh, the children are at home today. They wanted to sleep in.”
No no no no. Parents, YOU are the boss.
Now, are there sensitive cases when it’s very difficult? Maybe a child has special needs and might not do so well at the church. Yes. But church, let’s pray that God calls people in our church who would be willing to come alongside these children every week to help them, and get them comfortable to being around us. Maybe God is calling you to be that person.
But also, let me remind you that people at home are watching you! Your kids can tell when you don’t prioritize church. I saw a
Parents that treat the church as optional shouldn’t be surprised when their children treat Jesus as unnecessary.
Let’s obey God’s calling, put sin to death, and lead by example. Let’s read verse 4.
So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that theyGenesis 35:4
had,and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.
How can we lead our family to be healthy church members? This is a quick point but a very important one.
4. Help your family grow spiritually.
Jacob’s family gave up their false gods but who buried them? Jacob did. The leader of the family did. Parents listening here today: what’s going to help your children grow spiritually is how you help them grow spiritually. Does the church have a big part in that? Yes it does, but like we saw in verse 3, lead by example right? Sometimes, we have to do the hard work in the family and help each other get to where we need to be spiritually.
A professor I had in college is also a pastor. And there was a time when his son was struggling with drugs. He stopped pastoring the church for a season to spend more time with his son and help him get through his struggle. That’s bold. He put his family first. What are you willing to do?
Ok let’s check out our last point.
5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, 7 and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.Genesis 35:5-7
How can you lead your family to be healthy church members?
5. Worship God together despite your circumstances.
Jacob’s sons messed with the wrong people. Can you imagine how afraid they must have been, thinking that people would go after them for revenge? But it didn’t matter. Jacob led his family to worship God together.
Church, when the going gets tough, meet with God’s people and worship God!
When times are good, meet with God’s people and worship God!
This affects your family!Your kids will grow up learning, “Oh, when things are rough in life, we go to church and worship God! When things in life are difficult, we worship God!” You don’t have to come here on Sundays and pretend you’re doing fine. Here, we can take off our masks and worship God even when the world seems to be falling apart around us! You can come here crying and hurting and in pain, and you know what, that can even encourage someone else because it might break them down and they will begin to open up more.
Worship God no matter what is happening around you.
We read this story and went through five points on how we can lead our family to be healthy church members, but it all boils down to this:
Change the world by starting at home.
I want to talk to the single people listening today
Are you leading by example? Whether you’re living with family or not, guess what? They’re watching you. Your friends are watching you and what the world wants right now, and what they need, is authenticity. If you commit to Christ with all of your life, the natural desire to come to church and worship with your brothers and sisters will follow that.
Are you helping your family grow spiritually? Maybe someone even in the church. Take them aside and ask them, “Hey, do you want to start a devotional together?” Before dinner, share what you’ve been learning from the Bible, from church, from living life with Jesus. And are you worshiping God despite your circumstances?
You can have all the degrees you want, the money you want, and the fame you want, but we change the world by starting at home.
How about any couples without children?
Whether you have children or not, you can have a game plan. Start doing devotionals together now. Pray together and talk about the Bible together now. Deal with your sin and struggles now. It won’t get any easier once you have kids! They’re going to have homework you need to check up on and sports and activities, and guess what’s going to be put aside? God’s Word. Church. Church family. Make this a priority NOW. It will strengthen your relationship whether you’re just dating or whether you’re married.
Change the world by starting at home.
And now parents, one last thing.
In the same way that you might buy shoulder pads for your kids to play football, or buy a trumpet so they can be in the school band, or buy a list of materials they need for school, or how you setup appointments to have their health checked, I want you to have a game plan for your family.
Change the world by starting at home.
What needs to change at home? Think about the kind of family you want your family to be, and make a plan on how you will get there. And remember, I am always here to help you in that process.
Church, can you imagine the impact we can make in our community!
Imagine being able to impact our families and then God strengthening our families! Then we gather here on Sundays, and we become an even stronger family. Nothing will be able to stop what God will do in and through us
Melinda and I were talking about this the other day. Where else can someone without a family enter a building on a Sunday, and gain hope, salvation, a future, and a strong family that has their back every step of the way?
Nowhere else but the church!
Change the world by starting at home.
Let’s make this happen church!.