On Sunday, as part of our campaign for a new facility, we raised the question of how we should pass a Kingdom mindset to our children. We raise this question because it would be tragic to secure a physical tool for Kingdom work, but fail to bequeath a life-giving spirituality. Our challenges in this task are immense. Consider just three.
1. The prevailing measurement of God according to self.
Both American society at large and evangelical churches tend to view God in terms of human problems and desires. God is only valued to the extent that he is useful in our daily lives. God, from this point of view, is always small.
If this measurement of God prevails in our children's minds, then they will not inherit a Kingdom worldview. In Kingdom terms, God is infinitely large, and his purposes carry human beings far beyond their horizons. Human beings are to be measured in terms of God, from whom they derive their life, dignity, and potential.
In our families, then, we have to overcome a powerful cultural prejudice, showing children that they become large only if God is large first.
2. The busyness of adult schedules.
The lack of time dedicated to conversation and activities with our children (T.V. doesn't count), is the biggest practical barrier to passing a Kingdom worldview to them.
In days past, parents and children sustained the family by working together, not just on farms but in cities as well. The sheer amount of time they spent together created a bond between generations, and helped foster a continuity of worldview.
The profusion of entertainments today, all of them preferable to familiar and dull company at home, together with the dispersion of adults into their own worlds of work, has cut the primary line that transmits worldview: time.
In our families, we have to discover new scheduling combinations that are godly.
3. The lack of adult devotional intensity.
Adults return home from a work-world that tends to drain their passion, disrupt their sense of purpose, and break their integrity into compartments. The face that their children see, then, is often the face of worldliness seeking rest from its cares.
So the words that children hear about God from their Christian parents, living such lives, are out of tune with the actions of self-indulgence that maintain the adults' emotional reserves. The adult church-world appears to be filled with pieties, in the worst sense, while the adult work-world receives genuine devotion.
For adults to pass a Kingdom mindset to children, the adults have to be refreshed, not by brain-candy, but by the Spirit of God. The children have to see continuity between the words adults say about God and the refreshments the adults seek.
Meeting these three challenges might seem impossible. How can we overcome American ethics, schedules, and emotional poverty?
If the challenges are seen in pragmatic terms, truly, I don't see how they can be met.
Christians have been trying to get their kids to reject the entertainment industry, trying to fill their kids' hours with wholesome company and activities, and trying to find time for their families, as if the barriers to passing on a Kingdom worldview were entirely practical. Yet children are still living for the world.
But notice that, in each of the three challenges, the real problem is not the corrupt American culture, or the children who are easily seduced, but the Christian adults themselves.
Only a Christian adult can change her sources of refreshment from entertainment to devotion to Christ. Only a Christian adult can command his schedule to exclude waste and sloth, and create the zones of time to deepen bonds with his wife and children. Only a Christian adult can follow purposes that rise above worldliness.
And there is only one way a Christian adult can do these things: by measuring him- or herself using God's point of view and purposes.
As in so many areas, passing on a Kingdom mindset means recovering a high view of God.