By Danny Sinquefield
Pastor, Faith Baptist Church, Bartlett
“Train up a child in the way he should go …” is a familiar passage found in Proverbs 22:6. That is exactly what every world-visionary and world-impacting church should be focused on as we together embrace the Great Commission in our day. But how does this happen from a practical perspective and what is our responsibility as church leaders in this daunting task? Who will be the next generation of young men and women to surrender their lives to the call of God and sacrifice everything to share Jesus with people across the country and around the world?
First, allow me to suggest that we go “back to the basics” in terms of making missions and mission education a priority in our churches.
I fear that we are losing traction when it comes to seeing the Lord call out the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and church leaders from among our congregations.
Many churches have traded in or simply abandoned such proven programs and discipleship strategies as Royal Ambassadors (RAs), and Girls in Action (GAs) for children and students. These important ministries were once missional mainstays for Southern Baptist churches, and I would argue that they helped form the spiritual foundation in a generation of young hearts and minds with a burden for reaching the whole world with the gospel.
Our three sons grew up in the ministries at Faith Baptist Church in Bartlett that valued mission education at an early age. They were proud to be Royal Ambassadors and they still share memories of weekend camping trips, RA Racers, and Mr. Ronnie Purifoy’s famous “RA Stew.” They became aware of the missionary task, raised money for missions, participated in mission projects and became burdened over the lost world around them.
The RA ministry at Faith continues to be one of the most popular and well-attended mission activities for young boys in grades one-five.
Recently, my wife Rhonda captured a photo of two our grandsons with joyful smiles just after attending their first meeting and receiving their RA T-shirts and vests. They can’t wait for Wednesday evenings to roll around so they can be part of an action-packed hour of missional learning and practical application led by godly men in our church.
Both dads of the grandsons in the photo (our two oldest sons) have continued to be involved in practical hands-on missions as adults. As a result of their experience in RAs and later participating in World Changers and student and college mission trips, their lives were permanently impacted. Our oldest son recently served as part of a disaster relief team in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida. His brother serves on our staff at Faith and has literally traveled around the world serving on short-term mission projects. I can hardly wait to see where the Lord sends their children!
I believe it all started with their first RA T-shirt and vest. It can happen again in your church. We desperately need a revival of mission education for children in our churches. I am praying for a harvest of the next generation of missionaries to come from our Tennessee Baptist congregations. The passage in Proverbs 22:6 concludes with “… and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” May it be so, Lord Jesus. B&R