USA (MNN) – This story is about discipleship, but it will take the circuitous route.
Standing behind two women at the grocery store, they spoke loudly as they waited their turn for the cashier to tally their orders. One mother commented on the likelihood of the United States going to war as the tensions rise with Iran. The other responded with fear over possible reprisal terror attacks. They both shared concerns over the adult world their children would enter in just a few months at graduation.
What was more interesting was that this topic of conversation is rare in a grocery store line. People rarely discuss current events anymore, especially with people in line at the store. The things that stood out were the fear both women expressed, and that set into motion a few questions Greg Yoder, executive director of Keys For Kids ministries answered about how much different the discussion might be among the body of Christ.
The importance of discipleship and leadership
At the same, this is the reality in North American churches if the latest Barna research holds. “We see 18-year olds leaving the church in droves. Some of them are coming back, but a lot of them aren’t. And the question is why?” wonders Yoder. Answering his own question, he said,”We’re constantly led to believe it’s because they don’t know their own Bible. They go to church all their lives, but they’re not studying it. They’re not reading it. They’re not understanding it. I think that’s back to us, as parents.”
When the world edges toward the brink of chaos, what are we teaching? “Our top priority, as Christian parents, is to disciple our kids,” Yoder observes. “As I look at how there’s fear in people’s lives, the number one thing that we need to do as parents is to model the fact that we can’t be afraid about things that man creates, but that God is in control, He is sovereign, and He has it all figured out.”
“How many times does Jesus mention, ‘don’t be Afraid’ or how many times does the Bible say ‘Don’t be anxious about anything?'”, he asks. Yoder says Scripture is clear about issues of fear and anxiety, but that means parents also need to be familiar with it to model it. “We can make a huge difference in the lives of our kids, as we’re faithfully leading them, reading the Word whether it’s through our Keys For Kids, or our Unlocked (for teens)–challenging them in their walk with the Lord every single day with stories kind of like Jesus did. He told parables, and he always linked those parables to some biblical text or some theological truth.”
It’s not too late
Schools report increased depression, anxiety, and discipline issues. Teens also confront problems related to sexual abuse, addiction, LGBTQ, and identity. They turn to peers for advice, help, and support. That’s where Unlocked comes in. Already, says Yoder, they’ve heard from young people who gave their hearts to Christ. “We’re also hearing that some of these stories are encouraging young people to go deeper. What I love about Unlocked is that it’s not only in print, but the app is available (Download it by searching for “Unlocked Devotional” at the App Store). You can actually take notes on the app and save it and go back as you’re journaling through the app.”
We’re just a few days into 2020. Although not everyone makes a New Year resolution, some families are making commitments to going deeper into God’s Word. Yoder says, “If you just lack resources, and you don’t even know where to begin in leading your family and devotions, this is a great place to start.” (Click here for a free sample)
A year to grow
A final thought: just as Keys For Kids is for elementary-aged children, Unlocked is for high school-aged teens. Families desperate for discipleship tools are rediscovering Keys For Kids all over again, sometimes multi-generationally. “We’re anticipating being able to distribute 300,000 copies of Keys For Kids and Unlocked devotionals in print, not just here in the United States, but in other places around the world.” It means 2020 is a year for growth. Given the uncertainty growing in the headlines, now’s the time to act. “We’re also available in Spanish and Albanian, Arabic, Greek, and Macedonian as well as Spanish. We are currently developing some of the print materials; we have a lot of it in electronic materials.”
(Headline image courtesy Trending Topics.Marco Verch/Flickr/CC)