Thursday, March 28, 2013

Your Child's Profession of Faith by Dennis Gundersen

As Liz and I found out we were expecting Ivy, I began to think a lot about the responsibilities and challenges that I will face as a father. I take it as a serious responsibility, and indeed, we are charged in scripture to intentionally raise our children to Honour God. I am deeply burdened with the need to clearly and effectively teach my child of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." Psalm 127:3-5
I have a serious obligation to see that my child is raised to understand the Gospel and have a healthy exposure to the Scriptures. As I discussed this with a friend, he recommended this book, shortly thereafter I ran across it again, in my Facebook news feed. So, I decided to order a copy and give it a read.

Your Child's Profession of Faith, written by Dennis Gundersen is published by Grace and Truth Books. In the preface, Jim Elliff says this;
"This practical tool will find a useful place in the churches and homes where pastors, leaders, and parents really care about true conversion. Read it with prayer, talk about it with others, and pass it on. Our children are worth the effort."
For anyone who has spent any amount of time reading this blog, you will be aware that it is our position that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is our most precious treasure; that there is nothing more important in the world than the Glory of God, and that we honour the Lord in a life of obedience and submission to him. It is so important that the Gospel not become a means to an end, that we strive to disciple those around us, including our children.

In his book, Gundersen addresses the challenges, pitfalls and blessings that can and are a part of discipling a child. To begin, he qualifies his book;
"This is not about making less of an effort to evangelize our children. But it is about being in less of a rush to hurry them into a profession which we prompt them to, in our own words, and not from their own heart." p. 15
Throughout the book Gundersen confronts the need to prayerfully and comprehensively teach and disciple our children. His balanced, Biblical approach serves to help impress upon us both the value of the Gospel and the value of the eternal souls of our youth.

At Arrowhead we work with many children and youth during our summer camps. The way in which we teach and disciple them will have eternal consequences. It is so important that we not only provide them with a clear presentation from scripture of just who God is, but also that we not manipulate and coerce them into making a decision they are not prepared to make.
"I urge you, do not try to force a confession from the mouth of anyone, least of all a child. For a truly believing heart will burst forth with it's own confession, without inducements and without "baiting"." p. 21
We have a heavy heart and deep burden that all of our campers come to a saving knowledge of Christ, but how supremely disastrous if we do not strive to ensure that they truly understand as we plead with them with the Gospel. We must teach and evangelize in such a way that the truth can be learned and understood and have a real impact.
"We must guard against putting [children] in a position of temptation to be man-pleasers: to make a profession of faith in Christ merely to win the acceptance of parents, church, leadership, or friends. God forbid that we mislead them into such hypocrisy. Rather, let's continually emphasize to their hearts that the only acceptance of any eternal consequence is acceptance with God through Christ - and that they must seek that." p. 68
Gundersen deals at length with the issue of the Baptism of children. Although this may not directly impact our ministry and evangelism at Arrowhead, it is very relevant and helps frame the readers understanding of the relationship of the believer with Christ.

We will be providing copies of this book to our volunteers this summer at ANBC and requiring that they read it prior to camp. (if you would like to get a head start on reading, drop me a line). It is my hope that the value of the Gospel and the importance of relationship will be impressed upon those who serve with us this year. The children and youth that come to serve with us are not simply a project; it is not simply our goal to see that someone utter the sinners prayer before Friday afternoon. It is our hearts desire to see our campers come to a genuine understanding of just who God is and their state of hopelessness without the redemptive work of Christ. It is our hearts desire to see our campers come into a permanent and genuine relationship with God.

We are called in scripture to disciple and teach, this is what Gundersen implores us to do throughout his book. This is what we hope to achieve at our summer camps.
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

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