It seems that every time I discuss Rose Park with people from around the valley, they ask me if I'm learning Spanish. It's a reasonable question except that when I hang out in the Rose Park area, God seems to be showing me a different language that Christians in Utah should be mastering. It's a language that really seems to apply all over the state. It's the language of family.
It's no secret that Utahns are about family. Whether it comes from religious culture or from a culture beyond the borders of the US, it is rather prevalent in Utah. I believe that we, Redeeming Life, needs to learn the language of family and be very capable of speaking the language of our culture to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Of course this doesn't mean we are going to idolize our families. Think of it like a missionary to China who learns the language and culture, eats the food of the locals, and dresses like a part of the community so he or she can speak into that culture and provide a path for Jesus to redeem the parts of that community that stand in opposition to the gospel. Instead, we are going to engage with families, to include our own. We are going to speak the language of family.
As I look at many church plants, I find them full of single, young people. From what I see across the nation most church plants grow into these something more over time. Single people get married. Eventually, those married members begin having children and the church plant begins to adopt a ministry to families. We, on the other hand, have families in our congregation. And every time I look around Rose Park, God doesn't show me skin color or socioeconomic status. God shows me struggling families. He has opened my eyes to broken and hurting parents. I see families who are tired and far from God. And I see many community groups and other church activities around the Salt Lake valley that are void of young families. The come on Sunday, but that seem the best they can do. (And I understand it because I've been there.)
It can't be that this season of family life is one of crouching down. It can't be something parents just 'survive' until the kids get older.
Therefore, I believe Redeeming Life Church needs to make our best effort to communicate the gospel to families. We don't have to be the best teachers, but we do need to teach kids to love Jesus. We don't have to have all the answers for parents, but we do need to love them, walk along side them, and equip them as they are potentially raising the next generation of believers in Salt Lake.
Let's not relegate children to the back corners during our House Fellowship gatherings. Let's not simply 'drop our kids off' at 'daycare' on Sunday night. Jesus spoke very highly of little children in need of Jesus' healing and prayers, and he rebuked the disciples who tried to prevent the kids from getting close to Jesus. (See Matthew 19:13-15 and Mark 10:13-15.) Let's be sure as disciples of Christ, we get our attitude right on this one.
I am spending a great deal of time thinking about how we can show children the love of Jesus on Sunday nights. How can we, the Redeeming Life family, make Sunday night a time of worship and growth for children as well as for their parents? How can we help parents lay down a rock-solid foundation of faith for their children. Will you pay for me and Redeeming Life Church? Will you join us in speaking the language of family? Will you help us share the love of Jesus with families?
Soli Deo gloria!
*The photo used in this post is obviously a stock photo. It was originally produced by the National Cancer Institute and is in the public domain. To the best of our knowledge, this family (if it's an actually family) does not live in Rose Park and is nobody we know.