Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the Infusion Conference here in Calgary. For me conferences like this are no longer about acquiring more information that is never implemented – but conferences like this bring clarity and inspiration that I desperately need during this new vocational transition.
Reggie Joiner (@reggiejoiner)is the CEO of The reThink Group, “a team of innovative writers, thinkers, planners, creators, and do-ers who are devoted to influencing those who influence the next generation.” He is the author of Think Orange: Imagine the Impact When Church and Family Collide. He is also one of the founders of North Point Community Church, where Andy Stanley is the pastor.
Here are a few highlights of some of his takeaways:
Most of us have been influenced by the church, but all of us have been influenced by the family.
As a leader, if you want to influence the church—or any institution—you must start with the family.
Somewhere along the way, we developed a picture of the perfect family and what it should be like. (He held up a picture of a stock photo of the perfect family and noted that it doesn’t really exist.)
If we hold on too tightly to an ideal picture, we set up families to become disillusioned.
God never really gives us an example of an ideal picture of the family in Scripture. They are all broken.
Your calling as a leader should not be to get families to conform to some ideal picture.
There are two different approaches to influencing the family:
- The ideal picture approach.
- The better story approach.
Parents don’t need a better picture, they need to be invited into a bigger story. This is the story of restoration and redemption that God is telling through their particular family.
God doesn’t use perfect pictures, he uses broken people.
He then went onto share some thoughts (SHEMA) from Deuteronomy 6:4–9. It says:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This passage is an exhortation to parents/ leaders/ community. It basically says that if you take the “bigger story approach,” you will:
- Imagine the end. It starts with God and ends with God.
- Fight for the heart. This is everything. If you don’t have your children’s hearts, you don’t have anything.
- Make it personal. This is not merely a “Sunday faith.” This is an everyday faith. You must teach your children every day in every way.
- Create a rhythm. If you are counting on the church to influence your children, they only have about 40 hours a year to do so. However, parents have about 3,000 hours a year to influence their children. Clearly, the church can never do the job parents can do.
- Widen the circle. Hebrew parents didn’t try to raise their children alone. They had the help of the entire community. It does take a village. Children who have mentors and coaches outside their family are more likely to be lead healthy and successful lives.
Perhaps this video will provide even more clarity – I’d love to hear your thoughts! Agree? Disagree? Is this a new paradigm shift? Or did we simply buy into a more programmed approach a few years back?