How do you minister to kids who want nothing to do with Jesus?
through a bit of a tough time. That might irritate them, but it’s very hard to be really irritated by someone who says, ‘I’m praying for you!’ “You can also be praying for God to bring Christian peers into the life of your young adult children and, if appropriate, asking their Christian peers to pray for them, too... asking them to invite your kids to their own church and look for opportunities to speak with them about Jesus. “The ones that have walked away can be quite bitter... they might be walking away because of a hurt or a misunderstanding, or they feel they’ve been robbed of something. These relationships – really, all relationships with children who don’t believe – require great patience, godliness and wisdom on the part of the parents.” LOVE YOUR KIDS, BUT DON’T COMPROMISE Part of the difficulty of ministering to adult children who aren’t Christian is knowing when to hold the line on matters of faith life. For example, Mr Lavender says, parents can be pulled both ways when they are regularly invited to events at a time they would normally be involved with church activities. “You can feel really torn, but I want to encourage Christian parents not to compromise on what’s really important,” he says. “Some people will go to the parties and the dinners and they’ll miss Bible study or church, signalling [to their children] that meeting together with my Christian family is not important – but you want to make sure they understand that it is! So perhaps you can say, ‘Can we have the party in the afternoon? Because I’ve got church in the morning so I’m not able to come in the morning’.” All manner of issues will come up in your relationships with your adult children, but over and above these are the essential questions of faith and belief.
Mr Lavender draws on a reference by English evangelist Rico Tice, who talks about being prepared to ask questions that cross the “pain line”. These are difficult but important questions where you are never sure what response you will get. Mr Lavender says we should be confident to ask these questions, not fearing what people will think of us, because it is what God thinks of us that really counts. As an example, he says, “What if Jesus really is who he says he is? What if eternity really is a thing? You’ve got to pick your time and work out which hill you’re going to die on, but I think somewhere or another you have to have those conversations. “You take a risk asking these questions. There might be hostility, yet it might actually open the door for further conversation and who knows how God will use these opportunities? “It would be terrible if you never took or made an opportunity to speak to your adult child about Jesus, so I think at some point you’ve got to prayerfully look for a time when you can cross that pain line.” He adds that it’s important not to “rush in and say things” because that isn’t necessarily the best option. But nor do you want to leave things unsaid because you’re afraid it might damage the relationship. “Look prayerfully for opportunities to bring things up. They’re adults and you want to talk through it together as adults, speaking as well as listening. But most important is to do it from love – speaking the truth in love. That’s got to be the thing that guides us. “At the bottom line, pray for your kids! Keep living out your faith around your kids. Be honest with them, even saying how much you’d love them to know Jesus, too, and speaking with them of the difference Jesus has made to your life, and that you’d love that for them as well.”SC
The news magazine for Sydney Anglicans