This week is chapter 11 with "Connecting in Organic Ways". FirstCov'ers Angie and Ben Branum dish out a hearty discussion of "cultural stew", open their front door to a sneak peek of their lives as parents to a pre-teen, and bring us out into the community with ideas of where to go to make connections for Christ, in this summer’s Book & Blog series in “Organic Outreach for Families: Turning Your Home into a Lighthouse.” Each week we read a chapter and hear from various FirstCov’ers. Join us and leave a comment or question below!
“If we want to know who our children are, we must learn to lift the lid”
-Organic Outreach, p. 162
Lifting the lid of the “cultural stew” that our families and children are a part of is the only way to really find ways to connect with them. The “cultural stew” is everything spiritual, secular, cultural and political that goes on in the lives of our children.
“Lifting the lid” refers to coming to an understanding of the way they are living, based on the influencing factors they are exposed to. The disciple Paul spoke of this in I Corinthians 9:19-23, where he connected with people different than he was by understanding where they were coming from, doing it all “for the sake of the gospel”. For the sake of the gospel, we must, in our own homes, understand where our children are coming from in order to connect with them.
Parenting is not for the Faint of Heart: Surrendering for Survival
For anyone who has or has had a pre-teen in the home, this can be next to impossible. God has created them wonderfully, but their current mindset and behavior can be unpredictable from one day to the next. Sometimes from one minute to the next! It seems like it is a daily trial and error, leaning on God and clinging to the hope that we are not traumatizing our children for life. Daily prayer and surrender is the only way to work on understanding our children, and I admit, I am not very good at that, which is why I have such a hard time understanding my daughter.
How can I get inside her head and understand what she is experiencing daily and how that affects her responses? I’m still trying…
The book “Organic Outreach for Families” speaks to a number of applications for connecting with your children, no matter what age they are.
- It is never too early or late to start
- Be diligent and committed
- Stay engaged and do not quit
- Keep the goal of connection in front of you: it allows you to share your faith
Get up and Go: Meeting People Where They Are
In addition to cultivating closeness with your children in your home, looking to connect with the larger community is part of what God wants for our lives. Just like meeting our children where they are cultivates connection, so does meeting others in our community where they are.
The greatest commands were to love God and love others. This is at the core of loving others.
This doesn’t mean sitting and waiting for people to come to you; we are called to GO!
The great commission in Matthew 28:19 says to “go and make disciples”. It is an active, rather than passive command.
In Jesus’ life, he modeled this often. He traveled, often long distances, to go to where the people were. Jesus never sat back to wait for people to come to him. Sometimes they did, but many times Jesus met them where they were, literally and figuratively.
He met the woman at the well where she was physically, emotionally and spiritually. He went to the lake and gathered fisherman to himself as his disciples. He went to Zaccheaus and met him where he was, and traveled to new cities to share his gospel of love.
Jesus didn’t wait for things to be perfect, and neither should we! If we waited until circumstances were perfect to do God’s will and go be servants of Him, nothing would ever get done.
If we waited for people to come to us and start connecting with us, the “harvest” would be slim! As the light of the world, we can bring the light to others, instead of waiting for them to come and find it. Entering into the world and lives of those around us shows we want to know them deeper than a superficial “How are you doing?”
We care about what goes on in their lives and we can make that connection that shows the love of Christ.
Conversation, Connection and Community
There are so many ready and available places and opportunities for us to reach out and connect.
- Our children’s school and activities offers a large group of teachers, parents and other children to connect with.
- The community, neighborhood, library and other organizations are host to a multitude of people that are yearning for connection.
- Dining out can also present great opportunities, not only with those you are eating with, but the wait staff and other patrons.
- Finally, meeting with a small group is a true gift of connection! We have been part of a few small groups during our time at First Covenant, and each has brought us closer to those in the group. The connection has lasted beyond the studies and group meetings; it has forever altered our sense of His Church.
This is what He wants for His Church – organic outreach.
Enjoy chapter 11 this week! (Catch other posts in this series here.)
We all need ideas. We would love to hear how you bring the gospel to your home, specific stories, or even where it fell flat. We are in it together!
Take it to the comments: Let's have a conversation!