How would you describe parenting? You could ask a hundred different parents and probably get a hundred different answers. But I would be willing to bet that a common sentiment would be this: parenting is hard. I, personally, have not been a parent for very long, and even with only a couple years of experience, I concur that parenting is in fact difficult. Figuring out schedules, sleeping, feeding, disciplining, and then still finding time to connect with my wife is a challenge. And then, when we spend so much time and energy trying to figure out how to make our families function in an effective and organized way, we tend to miss the most important aspect of parenting—discipleship.
For the Christian parent, discipleship is the primary goal of parenting. It’s not helping them get dressed on their own, brush their own teeth, graduate with straight A’s (or simply graduate for that matter), or sending them off into adulthood into one piece. Those are all great things but they aren’t the goal. The goal is to, through the work of the Holy Spirit through us and in them, help grow them into mature disciples of Jesus. That is the goal of parenting and it’s the hardest part of parenting. That’s the mission that God gives parents—to disciple their kids. We see it clearly in Scripture—especially in Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78—that God’s primary design for discipleship starts in the home. It is parents teaching their kids about Jesus so they can one day teach their kids. That’s the mission that we, as parents, are sent out on.
Does that seem overwhelming? Good. It probably should. But thankfully, we don’t have to do it alone. God didn’t just place us as families on individual islands to try to accomplish this on our own. Rather, he’s placed us in community, as part of a local church to help love, guide, support, and challenge us in this process of parenting. That’s why we do Parent Commissioning. We do it because we don’t think godly parenting is something to be done within the vacuum of your own home, but in the context of relationship with God’s people. In light of that, at a Parent Commissioning service, we strive to see a couple of things happen.
First, we see parents formally and publicly sent out and charged with the mission of raising their kids—to the best of their ability and through the work of the Spirit—in a way in which they will hopefully come to know, love, and obey Jesus. We do this in front of the congregation because we believe that parents are committing to being held accountable by their church family to raise their kids in a godly way. Parents are inviting the church into their home to speak truth, encouragement, and life into their parenting.
Second, at Parent Commissioning, we see the church family committing to walk alongside parents as they strive to raise their kids in godly ways. Parenting isn’t a single-family affair. It’s a community project that, as a body of believers, we get to walk alongside other parents in the church and help encourage them and support them in the task of raising their kids in a godly manner.
Parenting is hard. Parenting is important. And as parents, we need to remember that we are sent by God and held accountable by our church family to raise our kids in a way in which they, hopefully, one day, will come to know, love, and obey Jesus. And as a church, we need to remember that we are called to walk alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ to help them, love them, support them, and encourage them as they live on this mission.