Dear parents,

Over the past few days I have spent a lot of time considering how our Next Gen. team may best serve families during this time of crisis. I certainly do not have all of the answers, or even most of them, but I want to remind you of a few truths and opportunities to consider. My hope is that these truths will be encouraging to you and will also be truths that you will regularly point your kids back to during this time of abnormality.

  • We serve a sovereign God. In a whirlwind of media and information, our thoughts can quickly become consumed with “what if” scenarios that only borrow trouble. During this time, Christian parents should regularly remind their children that God holds the whole world in his hand. There is nothing that happens without Him knowing and he promises to work all circumstances to our good (Romans 8:28).
  • How are we seeing this through a gospel lens? When tragedy happens, it can be difficult to understand the world and why things happen the way that they do, especially for kids. Thankfully, the gospel gives us a proper lens for how we can better make sense of things like the COVID-19 virus.
    • Creation – All people are worthy of respect, dignity, and kindness as they are created in the image of God. This is why we act lovingly towards others, even when it inconveniences us (ex: self-quarantine, sharing supplies, checking in on others, etc.).
    • Fall – Due to the fall in the garden of Eden, the world is broken. People are broken (Romans 3:23) and creation itself is broken (Romans 8:22) and eager for redemption. The virus is happening because we live in a broken world with broken bodies. It is happening because of sin.
    • Redemption – Even in the midst of the Coronavirus and all brokenness Jesus offers redemption to all that has fallen apart. In the midst of difficulties, fears, and anxieties we should always point one another to Jesus.
    • Restoration – One day all that is now broken will be completely fixed; this is our ultimate hope. All of creation, and all those who belong to Christ will one day be made whole again. What a wonderful truth that offers unchanging hope.
  • We are called to strategically leverage our time and circumstances for the gospel. Ephesians 5:15-16 commands us to redeem the time because the days are evil. This means Christians should always be looking to make the most of their time and circumstances. While the rest of the world might see this as a crisis, Christians can show their faith by seeing this as an opportunity. As this crisis creates significantly more family time, how will you best use it? It is quite possible that our families will never again have school, work (for some), sports, and social gatherings canceled. This is a unique time for your family. How will you leverage this unique time? Will you watch too much television, frustrate one another, and allow fear and anxiety to steal your joy? Or will you play more family games, create memories, enjoy one another in conversation, and find joy in Jesus like never before. Each family should think strategically how to make the most of this unusual circumstance.
  • Fathers are called to shepherd their homes. One of my favorite books to read to my daughter is called Our House Is Like a Little Church. This should ring true now more than ever before. As this crisis has prevented us from meeting together as the body of Christ, I encourage parents to pastor their homes. Ephesians 6:4 commands fathers to raise up their children in the instruction of the Lord. Unfortunately, crowded schedules often thwart God’s desire for the family. I hope during this time of pause, parents will proactively lead their family in times of worship and gospel-centered conversations.

I pray these truths will encourage and challenge you during this time that we are apart from one another. We are earnestly praying and hoping to be back with each of you soon. In the meantime, our next gen team will be working to flood you with resources that will bring your family together. You will be receiving crafts, lessons, videos, articles, podcasts, books, and anything else we can pull together to love you well. We hope you will take advantage of these resources. If you are not receiving regular emails, contact one of our directors and let them know so we can add you to the appropriate email grouping. Please remember we are all willing to help in any way and would love to hear from you during this time!

In Christ,

Stephen Howard