“O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.”
What is one thing that congregations can do to strengthen both the church and our communities today? The answer is simple, but not easy. It is to strengthen families. Preparing couples for marriage, supporting couples at every stage of marriage and equipping parents to teach the faith to their children, it all helps our congregations and our communities. The size of the congregation or the number of families should not be the real issue. How is your congregation helping strengthen families?
One young pastor of a small congregation would visit the young families and show the parents how to lead family devotions. Another young pastor would bring families into the congregation before each season of Advent and Lent for a night of fun activities, but also to give the families devotions to use in their home. Two small congregations in different parts of the state have told me how they would like to partner with other congregations in sharing both a pastor, but also a staff person who will help their young families, youth and children.
God’s design for teaching the faith to children begins in the home. Parents are the primary influencers of faith in their children. My prayer is that every congregation will look for ways to strengthen the home. One congregation started by focusing on giving bible story books to kindergarten-age children. They didn’t just give the books to the children though. They showed the parents how to use the story books with their children. What happened next was that grandparents also ordered the bible story books so that they could also read the stories to the children when they were visiting.
This is nothing innovative or new. Martin Luther introduced each of the Six Chief Parts in the Small Catechism with the instruction, “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.” The Missouri District will be training coaches as part of our focus on strengthening families. May God bless your congregation as you encourage and equip parents and spouses so that Christ is at the center of their family.
Prayer – Visit, O Lord, the homes in which Your people dwell, and keep all harm and danger far from them. Grant that we may dwell together in peace under the protection of Your holy angels, sharing eternally in Your blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan