Having a healed heart is crucial for walking in God’s kingdom, and to be His ambassador of spreading His light, love and salvation!
If you say you love Jesus but your heart is not healed, you will not reflect Him. Instead, you will reflect yourself and your circumstances.
Here are some helpful keys for you and me:
1. Be a part of a healthy community that wants to build you up and not tear you down. Healthy family and friends help in the road to recovery. They will give you the honest feedback you need to hear. (This is one reason for the FCC community!)
2. Inner healing – having someone guide you into an encounter with the Lord to help you stomp out a lie for the truth, heal heart wounds, etc.
3. Take note of when you feel offended. Offense allows you to identify where you are. Ask Jesus: “What’s coming up in me?”: insecurity, pride, etc.? If so, then turn from it and turn to Jesus for what it is your heart is missing. A lifestyle of Holy Spirit connection and correction is such a gift to walk in freedom. Walk by Spirit, not by flesh!
In May 2022, four of us women began prayer walking a piece of property. The Lord showed us pictures of what He had in store for a women’s event there. We prayed into it.
We saw His heart go into the depths of the women’s hearts like a quick arrow going straight in. We saw him put their hearts on operating tables, some barely alive with scar tissue and blockages. We saw Him hold each heart, flushing each with His breath of life. We sensed He wanted hearts to burn again with His fire – burning hearts fully alive.
We saw a cylinder from heaven going deep into a foundation for growth to happen. We sensed deep fellowship and connection. We saw Him fertilize seeds – growing them to become who they really are to be.
We even saw nuts cracking open and shells coming off. The Lord will speak and revive. He will strip it all away, breaking the ground, bringing them to supernatural acceleration over 3 days. The women’s hearts would be open, no more self-protection, no comparison. Fresh identity in His love for them. They would shed expectations of other women, so there could be a clarity of identity. New creation, and a different way of being creative.
We saw women with fire on their heads – newly ignited, hearts healed – and taking that fire home to their circles and it would multiply!
Five months later, in Sept/Oct 2022, we hosted women from across North America. Many traveled through all kinds of hoops to join us. What the Lord did among us women blew us all away.
One woman shared after she returned home:
“Good morning to all my sisters. Just want to say thank you to all of you for being so welcoming this past weekend.
Definitely has been a shift in the atmosphere in our home already. God has been preparing us both (hubby and me) for this new season. WOW!! When we find that safe place in Jesus and are willing to surrender in a deeper way breaking the alabaster box is not really that difficult. So again thank you for all your support, encouragement, affirmations and love. I am eternally grateful.
Thank you for…. Encouraging us to protect the spoils of battle that we gained at the retreat and to be aware of the devices of the enemy. I have had a number of opportunities to share with friends the freedom breakthrough I experienced.
Also I have been encouraged to ask Jesus what he wants to speak to me when I wake during the night. No more empty tossing, turning and fretting. One more thing. I woke this morning to a glimpse of women liberated, rejoicing in Jesus, almost like flames of fire…. I can’t even express in words what I saw and heard. It was so beautiful. . Holy Spirit is moving and reviving…. Dry bones are awakening and raising up a mighty army. PTL“
What she describes at the end is the exact vision my friends and I saw in May which was 5 months before the event!
Here’s a glimpse of all that happened in Belize August 2022 when I was invited to speak at a camp for kids and teens. I sent the following out to my email list…
What God did in a few days blew us all away!
Okay, so… In a previous email, I wrote:
“I’m away and heading to Belize in a week (Aug 8 -17) to minister to children and teens. Invite your prayers. There’s lots of abuse and trauma. Shyness is common as trust is tender. Pray for Holy Spirit anointing through us. I’m full of anticipation for what God will do!”
Well… God absolutely BLEW us away.
Ephesians 3:20 was definitely the theme of each day:
“With God’s power working in us, he can do much, much more than anything we can ask or think of.” (ERV)
What happened each day?
Belize Camp Day 1 of Hearing God in Living Color – August 10 kicked off with some training of leaders in the morning which resulted in breakthrough for many of them! We led them through the basics we were preparing them to take kids through. Then, in the afternoon, together we led children age 7-11 in hearing God through art, journaling, and dance. It was an incredible first day.
Belize Camp Day 2 – August 11 was increasingly powerful. Our morning worship time with the leadership was under an open heaven. Constance, one of our FCC teammates, kicked it off with a reflection and music. The young leaders opened up and received more of God and encountered him. We got to pray over several leaders and lead them to experience more breakthrough and freedom.
Later, I had the joy to individually pray with each Director – Joey and Heather and lead them through encounters with Jesus. They received profound pictures and truths from the Lord.
The young leaders came together and presented the major truth lesson of the day lesson using coconuts – something the kids now will never forget! It was awesome!
Later, after camp, 2 men who lead a recovery ministry in the states arrived and we all shared stories over supper. Later, Constance and I enjoyed a late night swing in the hammocks by moonlight I am amazed at all God was doing in connecting the dots. So much was flowing and syncing!!
Day 3 of the Belize Camp, August 12 – Hearing God in Living Color was for age 11-13 and it was another powerful day starting with miracles of deep healing already over breakfast! 😳🤩💕🙏🙌 This was followed by another powerful worship time and more breakthroughs in the leadership session! When the kids joined us, they continued to encounter God through various stations of art, dance, journaling, and other fun listening activities. Each day got better and better!
On Day 4 of the Belize Camp, August 13, we started the day with a treasure hunt with Jesus. It was incredible. We asked the Lord in only 3 minutes for clues to find his treasure – his people who needed prayer and encouragement. (See video enclosed.) In the afternoon, I had the joy of leading several of the teen leaders through one on one sessions to encounter Jesus. There continued to be breakthrough and tears of joy hearing God speak. In the evening, I led the entire crew of female leaders through a teaching and activation around Luke 10. More tears and breakthrough. The guys enjoyed a hike and campout which we hear was amazing!
On August 14, I continued with the joy of leading several of the teen leaders through one-on-one sessions to encounter Jesus. In the evening, we led the group of teen leaders and adults through a dinner feast and communion with fresh bread and homemade sangria. We led them through the great exchange at the cross surrendering all our sins, sorrows, and weaknesses as Isaiah 53 reveals and received in prayer from the Lord, His healing and forgiveness. We invited people to ask for prayer and we prayed for many of all ages. Many encountered Jesus that evening both in communion and in prayer time afterwards.
On August 15, on our last day in Belize together, we played and rested with a boat ride to an island to enjoy some swimming and snorkelling in the beauty of Belize. I even captured some video of a stingray swimming past us. 😳
Our lovely Freedom Coaching Circle teammate, Diane Sheffield (pictured 2nd from left beside me) got the original idea from the Lord in prayer one day – to do this camp in partnership with Joey and Heather Barrs of A Better Belize. Diane followed through on what He gave her, and connected us to see God move in incredible ways! Constance Galubenski (pictured 2nd from far right), also an FCC teammate, did each of our colourful t-shirts tie-died by hand. Just seeing the colours each day brought smiles to our faces.
It was incredible to do life together!
Thank you to all who prayed for us.
We’ve already been invited to come back for a follow up camp next year!
I found myself emotional on the 4 hour drive home. I was finished serving 1 week at a camp which included giving 10 messages on moving from mountains to miracles and moving from our problems to God’s promises. (Did you know there are over 8,000 promises recorded from God in the Bible?) However, I was confused as to why I was so emotional.
I asked God what was going on in my heart. I’m still processing and I think I have a few words to describe some of what happened to me. The week was full of campers asking the best questions and cabins inviting me to sit at their tables at meal times so they could ask me questions. During chapels and campfires the kids wonderfully put up their hands and asked me simple yet often profound questions so they could learn. Their hungry hearts were beautiful and so refreshing.
I had both staff and kids approach me throughout the week privately to ask me some deep heart questions. I found myself leading several to personally encounter Jesus and allow His Holy Spirit to speak to the depths of their hearts. They shared with me what they heard or saw with the eyes of their hearts.
Throughout the week, I explained how simply saying ‘thank you’ to God opens the gates to His presence. I led them through this simple exercise several times. Here’s one passage in the Bible that I referred to:
“Know this: God is God.
He made us; we didn’t make him.
We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever.“
(Psalm 100:3-5 The Message version)
The kids often shared some of what they sensed and saw from the Lord when they would speak to Him and ask Him questions. It was absolutely beautiful.
One thing I had not expected was how many times kids and staff, guys and girls said, ‘thank you’ to me EACH DAY. Over and over. And over and over again.
Driving home, I realized that the many words of thanks were still weaving their way into my heart and healing a previous chapter in my life of being so often told how I was not doing enough, which led to burnout and I had to learn how to walk and talk again. Clearly, the Lord had more for me through the words of both young and old – both guys and girls.
*This note pictured below from a young lady on staff was the icing on the cake.
Saying ‘thank you’ to God not only heals your heart and brain (even science confirms this), but I am convinced more than ever that saying ‘thank you’ to your PEOPLE will heal THEIR hearts and minds.
Take a moment today and ask God:
“Who in my life are you inviting me to thank today?”
Ask Him how to do that? – Perhaps with a note, a hug, quality time, a gift, an act of service?
I’m quite sure that turning AWAY FROM criticism and TO SAYING ‘THANK YOU’ could change our families, our communities, our nations.
(Written to honour my 90 year old spiritual mentor, May 2022.)
The first time I met Edna, she came to my office door when I was first hired on as a pastor. I don’t believe she even said, “Hi, my name is Edna.” She came to the door and took up 1/10 of the door frame and out of her mouth came, “If you need someone to pray for you – I’m your woman.”
It was absolute seriousness. She meant business. She was ready to go to war alongside me. She knew better than me the fire I would later walk through as a leader.
So began years of prayer partnering together. She would listen to the Lord and at times share specific words and verses. I remember her giving me Psalm 27. “Wait patiently on the Lord.” It was timely. She had no idea the difficult decision I was trying to make when she sent it.
Edna helped me understand the spiritual realm.
She had served in Indonesia and Philippines where things were in your face including head hunting. Her stories were incredible. She was 43 years older than me and full of wisdom.
It was from her that I think I really learned how to effectively pray. She helped put language to the things I was experiencing and felt in the spiritual realm. We would prayer walk laps around the church building – every Monday morning. The front office staff would cheer us on and remark to us with wonder if the walls were going to fall down.
There was one season I remember deeply. The church was going through a difficult time. We sensed the Lord invite us to pray for repentance on behalf of the church; it’s people and it’s history.
I remember in one month; 13 people came forward to me personally, not knowing what we were doing. They confessed sin or shared deep wounds. I would pray with them and refer many of them to a local counsellor. It got such that the counsellor emailed me. “Who are you and what are you doing over there?”
We prayer walked for families. We prayed for the Kids Soccer Camps we ran and we saw incredible things happen.
She was my spiritual mom for years.
One day she asked me, “Do you know how to fight a bull?” Again, she said this in absolute seriousness. Her dad had a bull in the field growing up. She said to me: “When you come face to face with a bull, you take that ring in its nose and you twist.” At first, I thought she had lost her mind. But, I felt like the Lord said to me, “Take note of this.” I realize I have used that lesson so often, not in the natural but in the supernatural.
Today, I minister to missionaries, pastors, and various ministry leaders all over the world. They are often on the verge of burnout or in deep spiritual oppression. I enjoy walking with them to lead them through it and take the enemy to task.
Yes, Edna was probably the first person who effectively taught me about the spiritual realm. We are seated in the heavenlies. In Christ, we have authority over the evil one. But, we give away our authority when we live in fear.
Because of her, I have multiplied what she has taught me. Her impact is far reaching today as I coach people on the mission field, often in countries like she was once in.
Our friendship was such that we would often joke; if we had grown up together, we would have gotten in so much trouble.
Years ago, she was told she was dying already back then. The news hit me hard. I went to a local retreat centre and spent a day weeping. She asked me to do her funeral back then. She was always a huge supporter of me and my leadership.
We met and prayed and looked forward to riding a motorcycle together in the airstrip of heaven. In her earlier years she had often hopped on a motorcycle after her kids were in bed, and road it up and down the local airstrip for stress relief and prayer. She was my kind of woman. When I pastored, I rode a Honda Ruckus myself and found it great therapy.
Together, we prayed for Edna. Lo and behold, she was healed. The funeral plans were off.
Edna and I enjoyed years of visiting together after that. I would go to her home and ask her what the Lord was telling her and hear her reflections on the Word or her stories. When I would phone her and she’d answer, I would greet her with: “Hello, my friend!” Her response was always so life giving.
Edna passed quietly in her sleep at 90 years of age. She was singing about heaven in the weeks leading up to it. She knew she was getting ready for heaven. I write this having recently experienced her celebration of life. She was a woman ahead of her time. Stories of her life were shared of hiding fugitives in a dangerous country, chasing away thieves, guarding women in the local prison, leading women through 12 step recovery programs, preaching sermons in a day before women really did, hosting the local police for meals in order to minister to them, and speaking at the Bible Camp that I have spoken at for years myself. This is only some of what she did and reminds me why we hit it off.
I miss her deeply as I write this. I lost contact with her in the final years due to my own health crash in 2016-2017, then her Parkinson’s making it hard for long emotional visits and then Covid 19.
I hope we will be riding some kind of joy ride vehicle together up in heaven. I’m sure it’s going to be far beyond all of our dreams.
Edna has left a huge legacy and impact on my life and I can see how what I do in coaching ministry leaders is flavoured by her.
I pray that my life will impact at least 1/10 of what her life has on her family, friends, and those she cared for.
How do we help our kids navigate through a world where leaders are falling in sin like hotcakes, and churches are arguing over divisive topics?
We need two major things.
We need to know the Scriptures and rely on Holy Spirit.
As parents, we need to worship God in both Spirit and Truth and invite our kids to walk in this too. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is true freedom (2 Cor 3:17) – no matter what is happening in the news today.
Now more than ever, we truly need to have a relationship with God rather than merely rely on a doctrine, a church, or a human pastor.
Helping You and Your Kids Hear From God
Children hear the Lord easier than others. The most common block that children face is the unbelief of their parents and leaders. Our greatest responsibility as parents and leaders is to lead the children into an intimate friendship with God, which includes teaching children how to recognize and respond to the voice of God.
We CAN learn to hear God’s voice. John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
The earlier you expect a child to sense God’s presence and voice, the less likely you are to shut down their spiritual eyes and ears. (Don’t be discouraged if you are late in the game to hearing God’s voice. God knows your kids and will lead you!)
Why Teach Kids to Hear God’s Voice?
They can have friendship with God (the most important thing!)
God can help them make decisions (imagine if kids could avoid the mistakes YOU made!)
They can be led by God to minister to others (the supernatural, including hearing God, is for demonstrating God’s power in the world. For children to move in a pure, undiluted gospel of power, they must learn to hear God’s voice.)
How Does God Speak?
His Word, dreams, through others, through parents, a still small voice, spontaneous thoughts, impressions, feelings, inner-knowing, pictures, and circumstances.
Start Practicing Hearing God with Journaling
A “Hearing God Journal” is the best way to practice hearing God’s voice. Dr Mark Virkler taught me this from Scripture. In journaling, you simply ask God and question and then record what you sense God is saying to you. Then, you test it out according to God’s Word, His nature, His Holy Spirit and with others who know Him. Here are some steps for using a hearing God journal:
1. I Quiet Myself. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Our minds can be so busy and noisy that we can’t hear God’s gentle whisper. It’s impossible to empty our minds of racing thoughts. What we need to do is focus on Jesus. Express your love for Him – you can tell him with words, or more with feelings and desire and less with actual words. It’s like sitting quietly with your best friend. Just being together is enough. Listening to a worship playlist may be a great way for you to quiet your heart.
2. I Picture Jesus. Hebrews 12:1-2 says “…Let us run the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus.” Imagine your heart is like a movie screen. Ask God to fill this screen with His words and pictures. Pray, “Lord, I give the eyes of my heart to you. Fill them with your pictures and good ideas from heaven.” Just as our physical eyes see into the natural world around us, our spirit sees into the supernatural world when we ask God to open them. Picturing ourselves with Jesus in a Bible story is a good way to “prime the pump.” In the beginning we may need to “prime the pump” with a little help from the ‘eyes of our heart’ (our imagination), but when we exercise faith, it quickly turns into a pure flow of the Spirit. The water we prime the pump with may be warm and stale, but it is followed by a fresh flow of pure water.
3. I tune to the words and pictures that gently light upon my heart. John 7:38 says, “Rivers of Living Water will flow from the heart of anyone who believes in Me.” God’s voice is like a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-12). Usually it is not a whisper that we can hear with our ears, but the Holy Spirit speaks directly to our spirit through spontaneous thoughts. “Spontaneous” means that these thoughts seem to just appear in our hearts. They are not just something we were already thinking about. When God puts His thoughts in our heart, we often feel peace, or faith, or conviction, or a special excitement. God can put a thought, a word, an idea, a feeling, an impression, or even a vision in our heart.
4. I write down. Revelation 1:11 says, “Write in a book what you see.” We call this ‘journaling’. In Habakkuk 2:2-3 God says, “Record the vision…for the vision is yet for the appointed time…though it tarries, wait for it…it will surely come.” Journaling is writing out our questions and God’s answers. Simply ask a question and then write down the spontaneous thoughts that come to your heart. Don’t try to figure out if your writing is God or not until AFTER you are done writing. Nothing stops the voice of God speaking to you more than doubt. After you are done writing you can go back and compare what you wrote with the Bible, ask your parents or pastor if they think it sounds like it’s from God. You can also write down what God speaks to you from the Bible and any other lessons God is teaching you.
Journaling through the New Testament is key to discerning God’s voice. *Don’t attempt to teach your children to hear God without Scriptural foundation. Simply walk through the Gospels to start with alongside your children. Teach them how to journal through Scripture. Read a passage. Ask Holy Spirit to highlight a word/phrase, then how He’s inviting you to apply it. Write out a dialogue with Him. Write out an Action Step from the Scriptures. Go and do it! This is powerful!
Is it God?
How to Test What you Hear:
A big question is whether we are really hearing from God. Explore these questions AFTER you are finished journaling.
Does it agree with the Word?
What do others say about it? God especially speaks through parents.
Do we feel peace about it?
Does it glorify God?
Would it bring the fruit of Holy Spirit?
How to Identify Who is Speaking:
God’s voice – kind, peaceful, truthful, sweet, it always lines up with His Word
My voice – selfish, self-centered, self-protecting, self-serving
The enemy’s voice – condemning, manipulative, persuasive, deceiving, threatening, accusing.
To learn how to hear God and teach your kids, join us for one of our upcoming events! Merri Ellen Giesbrecht, Life Coach & Spiritual Director
Amidst a pandemic, God is doing a new – but old – thing. There is a positive shift happening in the current season we find ourselves in as a church family. We are seeing many parents get back to the basics of disciple-making. Church begins first at home. (And, I’m not talking a livestreamed service.) Faith needs to start at home and this is why.
First, here’s a little peek backwards: I remember the shock of parents and pastors when I began to ask the tough questions about parents discipling their children. It was around 2007 and I was an institutional church pastor. Parents in my area of the world, known as ‘the Bible Belt’, were used to dropping off their kids at Kids Church and Christian school to be discipled by others. In fact, many parents expressed their frustration at the thought of having their kids with them in a church service. They were busy, burned out and happy to have a program to drop their kids off at.
I remember sitting with elders in a meeting and asking one of them how he engaged his kids at home in the Scriptures and prayer. He didn’t. He dropped them off at Kids Church and at Christian School.
How did this happen?
The Sunday School movement in North America originally began as a temporary evangelistic movement for ‘non-churched’ kids in the community. However, in many churches all over, it slowly became a drop off-discipleship method for many Christian parents. Kids were often dropped off at church, or at Christian school, and with little to no faith conversation at home.
In 2011, I was invited to speak to the annual denominational conference, of which I was a pastor, asking the following questions:
What is the church’s role in nurturing children’s faith?
Where do parents fit into the equation?
I began to teach fellow pastors that the church is not to replace parents but to equip them and partner with them in discipling their children. Research from ‘The Search Institute’ in Minnesota years before, already showed the evidence. A child’s faith is impacted first and foremost by mom, dad, then grandparents, siblings, friends, Bible camp, music and movie stars, and then only after that is the Church or Sunday School listed. The research back then began to show that the most important social influence in sharing young people’s faith is what is modelled and taught to them by their parents.
Where does this sound familiar?
This makes sense because of what we read in Deuteronomy 6. God calls parents to love Him first and foremost, being careful to obey His commands, so that life will be long and enjoyed, and then teach their children to do the same:
“These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life… Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut 6:1-2, 5-7)
The modern-day version could be: “Teach your kids to obey God’s truths. Talk about them when you sit at home, when you drive in the mini-van, when you go to bed, and when you wake up.”
George Barna in his book called, ‘Revolution’ wrote this about the early church: “Christian families taught the ways of God in their homes every day. Parents were expected to model a Spirit-led lifestyle for their children, and families were to make their home a sanctuary for God. In a very real sense, the home was the early church – supplemented by larger gatherings in the Temple and elsewhere, but never replaced by what took place in the homes of believers.” – (George Barna, ‘Revolution’, 2005)
For 10 years up until 2016, while an institutional church pastor, I was outspoken on how church leadership needed to carefully and intentionally train the parents to understand their role from God and then equip them in their own disciplemaking to see their homes as a sanctuary filled with the Holy Spirit. My heart was to set up the parents as the main guides and we pastors, as their coaches, rather than taking this responsibility away from them.It was like turning a semi-truck around but it slowly began to shift.
These days, due to the lockdowns of institutional church buildings from 2020-2021, we are seeing a couple of things. People are noticing how watching a livestream church service takes no input. It’s completely 1 way. There’s no need for personal heart engagement. It is simply watching a talking-head on a stage. If your institutional church is merely that, what reason is there to return to a building? My heart is to see church become relational once again, equipping the family and igniting homes to be beacons of light.
Institutional churches who do not champion faith at home, and who instead assume that ‘real’ discipleship happens with adults sitting in chairs side by side listening to 1 person on a stage, only do more harm in damaging the passing on of faith to the younger generation. Soon, that young generation grows up to become adults who view faith as compartmentalized and inauthentic. They will view faith as being a once a week program and not living it out during the week.
Dangerously, after compartmentalization, comes disintegration and eventually a faith uprooted. And when a faith is uprooted, there is no fruit. Just as a tree with no root cannot bear fruit, a child’s faith not deeply rooted in the home, will be more prone to wither and die like the rootless seed in the parable in Mark 4:3-8. Notice carefully the different soils:
“Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, some multiplying thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times.”
How can we provide good soil for our kids?
We want our children to have a living faith that produces a fruitful crop. Thankfully, we see another shift happening in this current season. Parents are being intentional in learning how to disciple their children first starting from home and tilling the soil of their hearts to be truly rooted in Christ. The greatest gift we can offer children is to begin forming and molding their identity in Jesus alone. Their identity, how they view themselves and what they find their worth in, will directly determine how they view God, how they treat others, and how they impact this world.
When one lives with Jesus daily, walking with Him, and listening to His voice, everything changes.
(This is why I love teaching people – young and old to hear His voice. Resources are listed below.)
However, if our children find their identify in something other than Jesus, then they will pursue that thing above Jesus. If they find their worth on social media, in school, their relationships, video games, or sports, there’s no doubt that a once a week Sunday morning church service will be secondary to the pursuits of their lives. They will learn to use everything at their disposal to worship that “thing” above the Creator who made it. Notice the idolatry there which only leads to brokenness and heartbreak. And if idolatry is sadly modeled daily at home, the child will be deeply impacted in this model no matter what is taught at a weekly church service. What is lived out daily at home is what takes root. Parents have more impact on their children through the day to day than they realize. Parents are still the primary disciplemakers of their children in the modern day.
For greater discipleship, churches need to equip parents at home to know how to teach their children the story of the Bible, and not simply telling them random stories out of it. Parents need to lead them through the redemption of Jesus’ story throughout Scripture and then show them how their lives intersect with that story. Parents need first to know how to hear God’s life giving voice and teach their children in order to navigate amidst so many voices today. The tragedy is when a child grows up in a Christian home but walks away from Christ because of what was poorly modelled in their home. This is often because parents have not been discipled themselves and so do not know how to disciple their children. This is why I enjoy passing on to parents some basic transformational disciplemaking skills. I long to see generation after generation passionately following Jesus.
What happened for me?
I grew up each morning digging in the Scriptures and prayer time with my parents at the breakfast table. (I remember, to my parents’ dismay, making faces in the shiny 1969 toaster.) We then prayed for missionaries and various countries. My parents were often hosting people over for meals and helping our neighbours. My dad is famously known for fixing people’s cars and shoveling their driveways. We often gave our vehicle to missionaries who were home on leave and helped people stranded on the side of the road.
In a small prairie church family of only 30 people spanning across generations and cultures, I had the regular benefit of experiencing life together. As a young person, I was often welcome in the adult Bible studies, prayer meetings, and church gatherings. We often sat in a circle, looking into each other’s eyes, serving each other, in each other’s homes. I never felt unwelcomed with the adults.
Their love helped me to know God’s love, and as a result, I know who I am in Him.
I personally love the example of the church in Acts where Lydia, the business owner and seller of purple cloth, the formerly demon possessed girl, and the jailor all made up a church. They became a church family from different generations and levels of status. They also met in Lydia’s home. Can you imagine the impact on a child and their surrounding community from that circle?
Disciplemaking also goes both ways.
As an adult and parent now myself, I have learned lots from my children, their questions and exploring who God is. Max Lucado once said that parenting is better than any theology degree. We are not to underestimate the value of children. Matt 18:1-10 shows us Jesus’ perspective on children and how he loved to welcome them. He even called us to humble ourselves like children to be the greatest in His kingdom. Generations learn from each other while authentically doing life together.
One of my favourite things, as a pastor, was partnering seniors with young families and classrooms of children. I gave seniors a list of 5 or so kids and their birthdays, and parents names and info (getting everyone’s permission.) What began as seniors praying for young families, turned into spiritual adoption arrangements. Some seniors invited the young kids to learn how to cook, sew, or simply to eat together and visit! Relationships that started in 2006 are still going today in 2022 at the time of this writing!
In 2016, the Lord called me, my husband, and 2 boys away from pastoring in an institutional church. We began meeting in our home and serving in our surrounding community including at times helping our neighbours feed the homeless. Being the church in our neighbourhood has since continued and frankly has been a deeply healing and growing experience – going back to simplicity, following Holy Spirit. As a result of this, we have perhaps found ourselves navigating the changes of society more easily than some, in our current season. (I coach pastors and missionaries all over the world and I hear their stories and help them move forward.) From other blog posts, you’ll see an account of beautiful divine appointments and physical healings in our neighbourhood simply from going for a walk and running into our neighbours and praying for them.
I have been deeply impacted with my family as a result of digging in the Scriptures together, praying, and enjoying 2-way dialogue. We are doing life together BEING the church, first launching from our home. From there, we go as He leads us. I hope and pray that my kids grow up seeing the goodness and power of God, in relationship and in community, rather than simply hearing about Him and knowing the Sunday school answers while sitting in rows. I want them to know God’s love and abundant life at home first, in order to live an authentic faith that transforms their world.
Stay tuned!Resources for you to help learn to hear God’s voice and disciple others are listed below…
After serving 10 years as an institutional church pastor, Merri Ellen Giesbrecht now serves as a Life Coach and Spiritual Director to those who find themselves stuck and desire to move forward in freedom.
She coaches people to connect better to God through hearing His voice according to His Word, taking them through unique sessions in order to move forward and receive clarity. God knows each client so beautifully and He tenderly leads by His Spirit in each session.
Merri Ellen’s deep compassion and 20 plus years of people helping have seen her work effectively with professionals such as counselors, psychologists, doctors, pastors and ministry leaders; walking them through heart healing, healthy release of burdens, burnout recovery, ministry transitions, and healthy sabbaticals, as well as hard working homeschooling moms.
She loves guiding people as they explore their dreams, assess their gifts and abilities and pursue their goals.
A major life contribution are her landmark contributions in the area of recovery from depression and anxiety where her writing and coaching have impacted over 2 million people in 120 countries since 2003.