There’s a sermon I heard when I was in college that I have never forgotten. It’s a sermon I heard the youth pastor give at Hope Presbyterian Church in Richfield, the church I attended for a couple of years in college.
It’s a sermon that deeply impacted how I parented. For many years I worked directly with youth in ministry, and it deeply impacted how I led them. And it has also deeply impacted how I pastor, especially how I pastor parents.
Weird, isn’t it—a sermon I heard in college had that kind of impact?
The sermon was called “God has no grandchildren.”
The Bible talks about God’s children and being adopted into his family when you put your faith in him by trusting what Jesus did for us on the cross. No mention of grandchildren. No one can believe for their children. And a parent’s faith is no guarantee for the next generation.
But that’s not all I remember from the sermon.
The other thing I remember was a story he told about a father and son playing catch and a conversation that led to the son asking his father point blank, “Why do you believe in God?”
Essentially he was asking, “Why are you a Christian, and why should I be?” And the youth pastor said that if you want to pass your faith on to your kids, you better have a great answer to that question because, remember, God has no grandchildren, our kids will have to choose for themselves.
There's a lot we can do to pass on our faith to the next generation and there are no guarantees, but the number one, most important thing we can do is to grow and live in our faith in such a way that we provide a compelling model for the next generation.
That's the essence of the challenge to parents in Deuteronomy and Joshua 24.
You can’t pass on what you don’t possess. And it needs to be compelling. You can’t pass on a faith that your children would never want.
Genuine faith, real faith, is compelling. Real faith is transforming. It produces fruit. And the fruit of faith is compelling.
Genuine faith is a growing faith. You will fail, but there is power even if failure when we can own it, repent, and confess it to our kids.
That’s the most important thing. Nothing more important.