Preaching Doesn’t Have to be Negative
We hear it all the time, “Stop preaching at me!”, or “Why are people always preaching about the things they hate?” To some degree or another, preaching has come to be equated with negative behavior. Likewise, I have addressed the negative aspects of some “preaching” in our world. Oft times, the negative connotation of preaching is rightly earned.
Who can argue with the negative perception of this activity considering people like Reuben Israel, Kerrigan Skelly, Jesse Morell and others? Moreover, “churches” like Westboro Baptist of Topeka Kansas and Grace Fellowship of Davenport Iowa lend credence to the idea that preaching should be viewed with trepidation.
As with any word, pure etymological understanding isn’t always useful. However, such an understanding can help us take a balanced approach. So, how do we do this? Despite contemporary preconceived notions of what it means to preach, it doesn’t need to be negative today.
A simple look at the history of the word and its roots in ancient Latin and Koine Greek will help us see the word rightly. It simply meant to convey news. In the Greek, the word kérussó meant to proclaim or herald. In time, the word was coupled with the Greek word euaggelion which we recognize as The Gospel today. For centuries, the idea of heralding the Gospel was viewed as beautiful. Scripture even tells us that the feet that bring good news are beautiful.
So, it is in this context I want to preach to you about preaching the Gospel to your Children.
When to Start Preaching to Your Children
In the womb!
Now, in all seriousness, as early as possible. I have friends and acquaintances through social media and real-life contacts that have regaled me with stories of reading the Bible to their Preborn Children. For some of you that ship sailed years ago. I know in my case, the idea of reading the bible to my children in the womb would have been laughable, and I professed to be Christian. Even for some Christians the idea seems preposterous.
How much more so preaching the Gospel to your young child?
I assert that even your infant child should hear the Gospel from you. Keep in mind that orthodox Christian teaching holds to Original Sin. Original Sin asserts that all people are born in sin, morally corrupted. This means that one does not simply become a sinner once they sin. Instead, the first sin comes from the sin nature of the person. Thus, heralding the Gospel to your children is of paramount importance. You cannot prevent your children from sinning. But you can preemptively point them to the one who has paid the penalty for those who would believe.
Avoiding Heavy-handedness as you Herald the Good News
I previously wrote about my failings, there are a plethora of them, with my children after I came to Christ. What I want to encourage all of you to consider is the way you go about preaching the Gospel to your children. The Gospel message is always the same. It never changes.
At its core the Gospel is that each of us have problem. We are all wicked rotten sinners that are utterly worthless due to the corruption brought on by our sin. Only one could pay such a steep price for sin, the God-man.
Now, that being said, how we communicate that message to a wide range of people can vary. I am not talking about contextualizing the message or tailoring it to appeal to a particular group or felt need. But how you relate the message of sin to a two or three-year-old will look vastly different than what you say to a thirty-eight-year-old drunk. (Well maybe…)
It may come as a surprise to some of you, but as a rule I counsel against heavy-handedness when preaching the Gospel to anyone. However, the way we define heavy-handedness is subjective. Some folks hate open-air preaching. Others hate any talk of sin and prefer to speak of “our brokenness”.
Consequently, I want to define heavy-handedness as it relates to your children this way. They don’t need you to beat them over the head with it numerous times a day. Frankly, none of your neighbors do. This was a hard-learned lesson for Todd…
Preaching Coupled with Demonstrable Personal Impact
What your children need most from you as you consider preaching the Gospel to them is life impact. I don’t care if you preach at your children all day every day. If they are not seeing that the Gospel has impacted you in demonstrable ways, you might as well shut up.
I am not talking about the faulty mindset of “I just live the Gospel.” I addressed that blasphemous statement previously. I am asking you to model a changed life to your children. Live out repentance and faith boldly in their presence.
Let them see your hypocrisy not gleefully, but truthfully. Because trust me, they see it when you think you are hiding it. Let them see your gut-wrenching honesty about your sin. They are more aware of your sins than you are most days anyway.
When they see your mutable and transparent character, but also see that you are touched and moved by the sacrifice of Christ, they will be impacted. Preaching Christ crucified to them is of utmost importance. Frankly, if they know that you understand your ever-present-need of Christ’s work, they will love you more. They may never come to Him, but they will respect you.
Soli Deo Gloria!