|Gary Thomas speaks . . .|
|. . . and people listen.|
“The days are long, but the years are short.”
With that, Gary Thomas opened dialogue with a room full of parents seeking Godly wisdom on parenting. Returning to New England to speak for the second Home Improvement Ministries conference in 15 months, Gary imbued a cold, wintry Saturday with tremendous value as he taught on this critically important subject.
Gary is profound. In the midst of a Christian culture wanting easy answers, formulas and quick fixes, Gary teaches from a completely different perspective. The tagline on his best selling book Sacred Parenting reads “How raising children shapes our souls” and that casts the trajectory of his insightful teaching. “One of the greatest gifts a parent can give children is personal holiness” is the distilled truth which ran throughout his three sessions.
“The question isn’t 'How can we make them behave?' but 'How should I behave so they'll want to behave well?'” Again and again, Gary emphasized that God's design in parenting is not just about shaping the next generation, but about sanctifying parents.
Many parenting guides subscribe to the truth that parents who walk their talk are more believable and impacting and that you can't pass on what you don't have. While Gary's teaching is not inconsistent with these truths, the outcomes are still measured by the next generation and as important as that is, it's still not the focus of sacred parenting. “Are we growing ourselves so our children will benefit?” he posited during the opening session.
That radically different approach is what makes Gary Thomas' teaching so life changing. Following the conference, one parent wrote in:
The H.I.M. parenting conference far exceeded our expectations! Gary Thomas exhorted us to “parent out of reverence for God” and to embrace every minute, because the time we have with our kids is short! He also encouraged us to give the best gifts we can to our kids and those are: parents who model a growing walk with Christ and parents who prioritize their marriage relationship. The workshops were also excellent, full of great practical advice and encouragement! This event was a huge boost for our family! Thank you for putting it on!
—Sacred Parenting Conference 2011 Attendee
Besides three rich, deep, and challenging sessions with Gary, a wide spectrum of workshops were offered. Workshops were presented by eight different teaching couples—including an NFL player, the founder and headmaster of a private school, a cardiologist, a family practice doctor married to a software engineer who homeschool their 4 children, a senior pastor with six adopted children, a junior high pastor, an executive pastor, and a licensed social worker. The workshop topics included media, homeschooling, teenagers, teaching your kids about sex, passing on your faith, being godly parents when you had none, balancing life and parenting when both parents work, and getting it going in the right direction with young children. It was a privilege for us to work with such a strong team of highly-credentialed and successful people whose highest commitment is sacred parenting.
|The workshop leaders introduce their topics. Each workshop was offered twice and much positive feedback was received on the excellent job done by these highly qualified teachers.|
Once again we were so grateful for a tremendously servant-hearted team who staffed the conference. Sue Martis and Barbara Steele managed the event, from publicity to registrations to on-site execution, and Jim Martis of MJM Catering took care of the food. They had a great group around them who sold books, arranged food, directed traffic, welcomed and registered attendees, and kept the day going. The folks at Calvary Christian Church were stellar. Partnering with them has been such a gift. Their belief in what we do is greatly encouraging to us personally and offering their facility is a gift.
|Part of Jim and Sue Martis' team who prepared lunch.|
At day’s end, our only regret was that every seat at Calvary Christian Church wasn't filled. For those who didn't make it a priority to be there, it was a lost opportunity. For those who did, they left changed, charged, and blessed with renewed hope, passion, and vision for this very sacred journey of parenting.
At the end of the day, we paused to thank the Lord for His presence which filled every aspect of this conference and for this great group of volunteers and H.I.M. Board members who sacrificially served to make it happen. We are blessed beyond words.