A few years ago in the Pacific Northwest, I met Sam, an airline pilot, and his wife, Janice. Sam grew up with a religious background but had been turned off by church. When his neighbor, Duane, invited him to attend a small-group meeting in his home, Sam at first declined. He wanted nothing to do with Christianity. The Christians he knew were self-righteous hypocrites, consumed with making sure others followed all the rules and regulations.
But Duane and the guys from the group persisted in connecting with Sam. When they saw that he was adding a room to his house, they offered to help. Sometime between hammering nails and laying down carpet, Sam’s perception of Christians began to change for the better. These guys were real. They didn’t spout a lot of overdone Christian clichés. They admitted their weaknesses and clearly “walked their talk.”
Eventually Sam and Janice both gave their lives to the Lord, and the men and women in the small group next door became their spiritual fathers and mothers. As Sam gave up his bad habits one at a time, the men never condemned him but supported him as a family would. Today, Sam and Janice parent their own spiritual family of growing believers.
To understand the importance of building relationships by following the example set by Jesus so that the family of God continues to grow, read my new book, “The Cry for Spiritual Mothers and Fathers—The Next Generation Needs You to be a Spiritual Mentor.”