On Monday afternoon Anna and I waved goodbye as our son Adam drifted through the departure gates, off to a new life in Japan. It was sad and left us both feeling empty. We miss him.

But it was also good. We didn’t raise our son to live at home, be dependent on us, and keep us company. We raised him with the hope that he would one day be independent and make a positive contribution to society as he brings glory to God. All this I am confident Adam will do through his life in Japan.

Of course, we will see less of him, but our relationship won’t cease. For goodness sakes, we’re family! Even from a distance, he will covet our love, encouragement and prayers as we long for the same from him.

The local church is likewise a spiritual family. God grants new birth by his Spirit as people become Christians. We then bear the responsibility of raising young believers such that they grow up and ‘become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ’ (Ephesians 4:13).

Having, hopefully, raised many mature believers, do we then expect them to stay at home, be dependent on us, and keep us company. Churches can be like that. ‘Whatever you do, don’t leave home! It’s comfortable here. It’s so much harder out there.’

But not at Penno. We want to be a fruitful church that sends out mature believers to live for the Kingdom. Yes it will hurt, but it will be a good, godly hurt, a willing sacrifice for the glory of God.