There are many wonderful reasons why I minister in a Family-Integrated Congregation, but here is one: I have the privilege of ministering to my family, and especially to my children, every Sunday! I have the honor of reinforcing in public what I have been teaching them in private throughout the week. They are hearing the Word of God directly from me, and I have the privilege of being present when God brings a spiritual breakthrough. I do not have to hear it “second-hand” concerning what occurred in a classroom or children’s church setting . . . I have the honor of being a part of the process!
Let me share two “real time” examples that occurred just recently in two consecutive weekends of ministry. On the first Sunday, I was ministering from Matthew 7:21-23 in a sermon entitled, “I Never Knew You.” It was a powerful sermon sharing the very real challenge that not everyone present may be truly converted, and I ended with a strong invitation. No one responded, but God had more in store. Here is a journal entry from my 11-year-old son:
Today was by far one of the best days of my life. Daddy preached a sermon titled “I Never Knew You.” When he made the altar call, no one came forward, but it was after the altar call that something pricked me and I imagined being before God and Him saying, “I never knew you,” and I didn’t want that to be me.
That night I told my parents about this and that I wanted to become a Christian. We went to the couch and prayed and I asked Jesus to live in my heart. I guess all this time I thought that I was a Christian mainly because I had done what Christians do, like reading my Bible, and Daddy and I had memorized lots of chapters of the Bible. I guess it all came down to the fact that I had Jesus in my mind but not in my heart, so today I decided to ask Jesus to live in my heart.
That truly made for a good day in my life as well! As an epilogue, my son was willing to share his testimony publicly the second week, and I just learned that one of his young friends heard it, was convicted, and was converted this week! Never underestimate the power of testimony in the public gathering, and in this case, a family-integrated gathering!
That second week, I ministered from Matthew 8:1-4 with a sermon entitled “Jesus’ Healing Touch.” I described in detail the amazing moment when Jesus responded first by touching the leper, a man who had probably not been touched for years. I invited our congregation to receive the Lord’s touch, but even more, I challenged them to consider whom the Lord might have them touch in His Name. My 7-year-old daughter gave this note to me following the service:
I believe that Jesus is calling me to a mission. I love children. I want to be a mission[ary]. I want Jesus to stay in my heart and never ever go away. I believe that Jesus, yes the King of everything is telling me to be a missionary. If I don’t have one child just one let me adopt one in Jesus’ Name. Amen!
Brothers and sisters, it does not get much richer than that! The Lord could have easily called her in another setting as He has so many times in other young people’s lives. But what a privilege to be part of the same environment where my young daughter was responding to the Lord’s tugging on her heart!
How may the Lord be calling you to integrate the generations, to connect the families into a united worship experience, one where powerful things happen for the Kingdom of God?