Here are the notes from the final panel discussion. These are a rough summary and partial paraphrase of what the speakers said. For more details, be sure to watch the video from the Seminary website.
Speakers included RANDY STINSON, SALLY MICHAEL, DAVID MICHAEL, JAY STROTHER, STEVE WRIGHT, RYAN RUSH.
Watch it here: Closing Panel Discussion
The final Q & A session I found to be very helpful and applicable. A smorgasbord of questions were asked during this time and the panel did an excellent job in giving practical advice. The first question addressed how one can train teenagers to embrace Biblical gender roles. Sally Michael and her son in law are currently working on a curriculum for teens and she provided some good insight in answering this question. She expressed that the roles of gender are important and that a person is being taught by the world, even at a young preschool age. Our children will know no different view than the world’s, unless we provide them with the Bible’s perspective. The concept of parents understanding what Scriptures says about gender roles and then modeling it for their children has been done poorly. It is vital for parents to first understand what Scripture teaches, and then to display this to their children. Sally’s husband, David, added that we must be more intentional in teaching about gender roles to our children and that doing this must start as young as the nursery.
Another questions asked dealt with the issue of senior adults and how to incorporate them into the church. Jay Strother was quick to point out that all generations share a place in the Kingdom of God. It is important to help senior adults understand their place in the church. A good way that senior adults can serve is by encouraging parents and to help fill a grandparent role that might be absent for some families. It is important to value our senior adults and invest in them. It is also just as important for the church to serve the senior adults. Teach teenagers about serving the body of Christ, part of which includes serving the elderly and widows. Ryan Rush also pointed out that it is so important to incorporate senior adults. Present senior adults with the idea that you are trying to restore something they miss—such as grandchildren and family centered ministry. More than likely they are probably missing these things.
The third question dealt with the idea of children’s worship. David Michael explained that they have not had a children’s worship in 30 years at Bethlehem Baptist Church. It is important for children to engage in the worship service and observe the intensity of the pastor. David encourages that children can sit still and listen to a sermon. One way to get children listening is by giving them a word to identify and understand. Every child that gets it right will receive a prize at the end of the service. It is important to have kids tune into the pastor and the sermon, rather than just automatically pulling out the coloring book. Having children participate in worship is important because it allows them to see their family participate, as well as the church as a whole spending time worshiping God. Jay Strother also pointed out that worshiping together as a family effects everything overall, such as missions and evangelism. It is important to allow children participation in these events. One way that children can easily participate in worship is to allow them to sing up front during the service. This can allow parents to see the importance of praising and worshiping God as their little one sets an example during the service.
The last question addressed to the panel concerned recognizing the need to shift a ministry to a family-equipping model and getting everyone on board with the idea. Sally Michael stated that she and David wrote out their philosophy for their church ministry and presented it to the congregation and their vision of where they wanted things to head. David added that they tried to give their parents a vision and show them the responsibility of spiritually discipling their children. Jay Strother pointed out the importance of not overlooking the soul work that must take place in your life, home, and with your church team. It is vital to state that this isn’t just the latest fad for churches, but to present the Biblical foundation for incorporating the families and making them a priority. Steve Wright encouraged that your family find a mission or need (Matthew 28) and live it out. Begin in your own home and see how God blesses you and your family.