I just finished a 1500 piece puzzle. It was probably the largest puzzle I have ever undertaken and it took me almost three weeks to complete. It has been one of the positives in this COVID 19 seclusion that has been a part of our lives. I had bought the puzzle brand new, so I knew that all the pieces of it were there. The most frustrating part of the whole process was that some how a piece got lost. It became a monument to failure and frustration. I searched and searched for the missing piece, swept the floor, looked under every article of furniture: Nothing.
I reasoned, that maybe, it had somehow attached it self to me and that it could be anywhere in the house. So, I broadened my search. I started by looking under the cushions of the couches. Next was chairs. I lifted a blanket that fashionably drapes over a chair in our living room and I found it: The lost piece. It was like the woman in Jesus' parable in the Bible who had lost a coin and searched frantically and diligently until she found it and then invited her friends over to celebrate. (I can't have any one over because of social distancing, but I had a party in my heart.) I put the piece in and all my labour was complete.
Key pieces are important.
Why am I telling you about my puzzle? Partially because it was a lot of work and I needed validation. But, also because key pieces are important. The puzzle wouldn't have been complete without that one piece. Raising Godly children is a difficult process and without the key pieces it can seem overwhelmingly hard. Particularly in this day and age when teens and young adults are walking away from faith like never before. (Here is a great article on it from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada.)
The foundation of this whole process is God Himself. In Psalm 137:1 it states, “Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat– for he grants sleep to those he loves. Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him.”
When it comes to parenting or any spiritual endeavour, we are cooperating with God. It is His work. The scripture tells us that to do any labour apart from Him is to work in vain. God has provided two unique influences that are the “key pieces” if we want to put this puzzle together. Each of these influences is a powerful force in its own right, but combined they are formidable. Reggie Joiner says in his book “Think Orange” (pg. 15), “Two combined influences make a greater impact than just two influences.”
God established these two influences, the church and the family. They are both responsible with the same goal; the spiritual development of people. Parents cannot shirk their responsibility to the church. The church cannot completely download responsibility back to the home. They need to work together toward the common goal of seeing generations of faith.
At Callander Bay Church we need to design a strategy that combines family with a faith community to demonstrate the message of God's story to influence the next generation, to influence the next generation, to influence the next generation and on.
May God help us as we endeavour to do this together.