D. A. Carson once famously said that it only takes three generations for a group of Christians to lose the gospel. One generation believes it, the next generation assumes it, and the third generation outright denies it. This is so often true in families.
Imagine a husband and a wife who believe the gospel, believe in the truth of the Bible, and love God and his church. As they have children, they take them to church every time the doors are open, but they rarely speak of spiritual things in the home. They assume their kids will grow up to be just like them.
Years pass and their kids grow into adults, get married, and they assume the beliefs of their parents. But for them it becomes more of a cultural Christianity. Being a Christian is what good people do so, they go to church, and they have a Bible on the coffee table at home, and they complain about the moral trajectory of the country… but they are not truly saved. Christ is not the most important thing in their hearts.
Eventually those second-generation kids, who’ve now grown into adults, have kids of their own. They bring their kids to church, but more for social reasons, and because that’s what they feel like good people should do. It’s not a big deal for them to miss church for something more interesting or exciting. But as long as there are no sporting events or family trips to take, as long as the calendar is open, they’ll be at the Sunday morning service.
Now, their kids grow up, move off to college, and immediately they meet good, friendly people who don’t attend church at all and don’t care to. They begin to hear persuasive arguments from their professors and from other unbelieving friends about why the Bible is just a made up story and why religion is just a way for people to feel better about themselves. These kids who have grown up and gone off to college have no foundation. They have no true faith, so they end up denying the very God their grandparents love and they never walk into a church building again. It only took three generations for that family to walk completely away from the Lord.
Want to leave a legacy? Start now by discipling your children or grandchildren. Don’t just raise them… disciple them. Teach them to know and fear the Lord.
Discipleship starts in the home. Psalm 78:4-7 says…
“We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;”
Did you catch the generation-by-generation discipleship in that passage? Fathers… yes FATHERS… teaching their children the great deeds and laws of the Lord, so that those children would grow up and teach them to their children, and so on.
My grandfather was a faithful preacher of the gospel in a small Church of Christ outside of Glasgow, Kentucky all his life. He and my grandmother taught my mother to love the Lord with all her heart and to know the Bible like the back of her hand. They passed on to her their love for Christ’s church, its members, and also a deep burden for those who don’t know Christ. And guess what? She passed those things along to her kids.
I am who I am because of the investment my grandparents made in the next generation. Because while my grandfather discipled and mentored many men during his lifetime, his first disciples were his children.
Today many Christian Moms and Dads think it’s their responsibility to raise their children, but it’s the church’s responsibility to disciple them. So they leave that up to the youth ministers and children’s ministers of the world. But you won’t find that in the Bible. Instead you’ll find things like this…
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, ESV)
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6–7, ESV)
You want to leave a legacy? Disciple your kids and grandkids.