Description: It would be a horrible tragedy for an evangelist to lead millions of people to Jesus only to have one of his own children go to hell. God does not just call individuals, He calls the entire family. Learn how Dr. Kevin Wagner raised his four sons to love God while being a full time evangelist at the same time. On today’s podcast we talk to Dr. Kevin Wagner about how an evangelist can raise a godly family.
Kevin Wagner answers the following questions:
How did your whole family memorize entire books of the Bible?
When did you give your sons the opportunity to preach their own crusade?
What advice would you give to an evangelist with young children?
What is the importance of having a daily devotional time with your children?
Three pieces of advice from Kevin Wagner:
1. Be intentional to spend time with your children.
2. Allow your children to travel with you.
3. Give your children opportunities to minister.
Key Verse: Acts 21:8-9 “On the next day we who were Paul’s companions departed and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.”
Key Verse #2: 1 Timothy 3:2-4 “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well…”
Key Idea from Daniel King: It would be a tragedy to lead millions of people to Jesus and lose a member of your own family.
Daniel King (00:00):
Well, I have a very special guest today, dr. Kevin Wagner from Wagner ministries international. He is a great evangelist, but he also happens to be a great father. And so today we’re going to be talking about the evangelist and his family. Welcome dr. Kevin Wagner.
Kevin Wagner (00:20):
Thank you very much, dr. Daniel. It’s great to be on the show
Daniel King (00:24):
And we’re going to talk about families. It’s very important for evangelists to take their family into consideration. As they’re called to go around the world and preach the gospel, they also need to take care of their family. And so I think a great biblical example is Philip. The evangelist. He’s the only one in the entire Bible who was specifically called an evangelist. We find his story in acts chapter 21 when Luke and Paul stop. And Cesarea, it says in acts 21, verse eight, it says leaving the next day we reached Cesarea and stayed at the house of Philip, the evangelist, one of the seven. And he had four on married daughters who prophesied. So the city of Cesarea was built by Herod the great as a gift to Caesar in Rome. And it was a port city and of course, sailors are coming into Cesarea and sailors.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (01:29):
They cuss like sailors. They act like sailors. They’re sinful. There are remnants of, of pagan temples that are built they’re incest area. So this was a very sinful city, and I think that’s a great place for an evangelist to go and live. So Philip, the evangelist, he goes and lives in Cesarea and he’s got four on married daughters. They’re all virgins and they prophesied. So they’re working with him in the ministry and they’ve managed to keep themselves pure in a city where there is great sin. So dr. Kevin, you have four sons and they’re, they’ve all grown up loving God. What did you do as an evangelist to raise your family and keep them close to God?
Kevin Wagner (02:18):
It’s a great question, Daniel. You know, I I looked actually to fill up the evangelist when we start our ministry as an example. And then of course, the other modern day, men of God who have raised their families in my estimation very well. And I tried to learn from those examples. And I remember early on Billy Graham, the great evangelist, he said in response to the question, as someone asked him towards the end of his life, do you have any regrets? And he said this, he said, this one thing I remember he said, I wish I would have spent more time with my family when they were young. And that was, those are words that really impacted me as a, a young evangelist, just starting out. And so I really made my best effort to when I was not traveling to really be at home and present with the kids. In other words, not just at home, kind of doing work while I was at home and, and, and asking them to leave me alone to do some private work. But rather if I was at home,
Daniel King (03:24):
I’m guilty of that. Sometimes I was busy today until both of my kids. I’m, daddy’s busy, let me work. I mean, there are times
Kevin Wagner (03:34):
Times for that, but as much as possible, I always tried to, if I was not traveling, I would try to be present with them. And and that would be, that was I think, a big priority. So I think I kind of learned from Billy Graham that way. Cause it’s like, if that’s a regret that he had, I wanted to, you know, try to avoid that pitfall. I think
Daniel King (03:53):
Four sons. Tell us about your four sons. You’ve got Josh, you’ve got Jesse, you’ve got Daniel, Daniel and Luke. That’s right.
Kevin Wagner (04:02):
So I’ve got four sons and we so Josh, he works with me in our ministry. He’s a full time evangelist with Wagner ministries international. And we you know, we have a lot of the same skill set and, and we work together really well. Yeah.
Daniel King (04:21):
He goes and does crusades, same as you.
Kevin Wagner (04:24):
That is exactly right. In fact, we have never, since he was 18 years old, been together on the same crusade, we’ve only
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (04:32):
Always been separate. What you need is a father, son crusade, where you get to go. And, and, but of course the Bible does say if you’ve, Jesus said, if you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the father, so, Oh, wow. Okay. So you’ve seen, you’ve seen dr. Kevin. Yeah. Well, you know, I’ve had a lot of it
Kevin Wagner (04:50):
Father, son crusades in the past because he was here was what, what I did when I w when the boys are growing up, is I because the places that we went were literally on the other side of the planet, there’s a huge time change. First of all, there’s a huge travel involved, which you understand dr. Daniel, cause you go to the same places, you know, it takes via planes, trains, and automobiles. It takes the better part of often two days to get to where we’re really going, the ultimate destination. And so that sort of travel is very grueling physically. It takes its toll on a body. And so I didn’t want to take my kids when they were too young. The other thing is because of something that I saw the planet, it’s a time change of, you know, really night as day and day is night.
Kevin Wagner (05:38):
It’s 10 to 12 hour time change in many cases. And so it’s really hard because you’re, you’re tired when you’re supposed to be fully awake, ministering, and then you’re really awake when you’re supposed to be tired in the middle of the night. So those things made it very clear to me that I wanted to wait until my boys were at least 13 years old or right around there to begin taking them along with me, even though they were eager to go even at a younger age. So all of my boys started traveling with me when they were around 13 years old. That was a time when they became very adventurous, like most teenage boys are, and they were happy to come. It wasn’t ever anything. I forced them to do either. It was just something that I, I asked them and they were always interested in doing it.
Daniel King (06:24):
That’s a great adventure for the children of an evangelist to go to the mission field. And some people stay at home and play video games. They get to go and, and ride in a wreck shot. It’s great fun.
Kevin Wagner (06:36):
You know my wife, Nicole, she homeschooled the kids w homeschooling is a proper choice for a lot of ministry families, not just evangelists. And so the homeschooling allowed us the flexibility for the boys to do these sorts of things and started to travel on those crusades was the first thing that I gave them an opportunity to do. But then when they became 15 years old, after they traveled with me for about two years, I then invited them to start teaching at their own youth conferences over in these countries. Youth ministry ministry, specifically to teens is very, very rare. It’s something that most churches do not have a lot of focus and stress on like we do over in North America. And so to have a teen conference for the teens of that city was, was groundbreaking a lot of these places, especially because a lot of these places are off the beaten track.
Kevin Wagner (07:34):
So I would ask my boys, Hey, you’ve been watching me preach now on these crusades, you know, a few times for a couple of years, would you like to teach at your own teen conference? And of course, invariably, they said, yeah, I’d like to. And so when they were 15, they started getting up in front of, you know, oftentimes hundreds of teens, local teams in these other countries, and they would start preaching and they would start teaching and they start ministering, laying their hands on people to be saved, delivered, and healed by Jesus. And so at 15 years old, they started doing the stuff of evangelism.
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (08:10):
Wow, that’s tremendous. So, so I, I’ve heard you say three things, first of all, be intentional about spending time with your kids as they’re growing up, and then to allow the children to travel with you and then three, give them opportunities to minister. You know, I’m a, I’m a big believer that God does not just call individuals. He calls families. He’s a generational God, he’s the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And so God doesn’t look just at the individual. He looks at the entire family and he has a destiny for the entire family to be involved in his, his plan for humanity. And so my grandparents were missionaries and then parents were also missionaries. And so I was privileged to grow up on the mission field and to be part of our family was to be part of the ministry. And so I got to participate in my father preaching and we would go into Mexico and do lots of small children’s crusades.
Daniel King (09:10):
And I was the one in charge of putting up the sound system and putting out the chairs and passing out beans and rice. I was the slave labor of the ministry. I worked hard and stuffing newsletters to raise money. And so that’s how I grew up as a, as a child, but I loved it, just the opportunity to participate in the ministry. And now, of course, I’m an evangelist and I’m training my kids. My son, Caleb is now 10. And my daughter, Katie grace is eight and they’ve been on several missions trips with us. And Katie loves praying with people. We did a, a woman’s conference last year in Dominican Republic. And Katie got up and sang with my wife as a special for all the women. And it was anointed. They, the presence of God fell when she was singing. And then my son was helping to, to run the camera, amen. Which I had been praying and asking, God, say, God, I need a camera person to travel with me. And my son was enthusiastic about running the camera. And he took it very seriously and was capturing the footage of all the miracles and the things that that God did. And so you intentionally included your, your children in the ministry and how has that now produce fruit in their lives?
Kevin Wagner (10:33):
Yeah, so I’ve mentioned my son, Josh already, but my second son, Jesse he is in full time ministry down in an excellent church, a large church in the Dallas, Texas area. He’s a director of student men at one of the directors of student ministries down there, a student ministries pastor. They have just an incredible student ministry, a very large student ministry, dynamic and influential. And he’s got a real, a real great ministry that God’s using him in down there. My other two sons, Daniel and Jess are Dale and Luke Luke is getting his master’s degree at oral Roberts university right now in biblical studies, both Daniel and Luke got their bachelor’s degrees in biblical studies from, or you. And so they’re still kind of figuring out exactly what what God wants them to do in terms of the calling of their life. But both of them are strong believers in Jesus, love the Lord and are active in their local churches.
Daniel King (11:32):
Now, one of the things that, that you did with your sons, that I really love was Bible quiz and you memorize scripture with them, and then it participated in Bible quizzes. How did that come about and what happened with being in Bible quiz?
Kevin Wagner (11:50):
Well, that was something we just kind of stumbled into our, we should, I should say God ordained it because that was not part of our paradigm. Growing up in Canada, we didn’t have a really developed Bible quiz ministry, the way that the U S H U S has in some parts, especially here in Oklahoma.
Daniel King (12:08):
Kevin Wagner (12:10):
When our boys, when our oldest son got to be about 15, his friends invited him to join this Bible cause program at the church that they’re in a youth group of. And the boys found out that they were not only really good at memorizing scripture, but they’re also really good at quizzing generally Bible quizzes, kind of, like I say, it’s kind of like a Bible version of jeopardy, but it’s really well organized and very competitive down here in the assemblies of God that we, that we quizzed with. And so our boys ended up being a, you have a team of three, three to six people, and they ended up being like the most successful Bible quiz team in the history of Bible quiz down here since the sixties. And I coached them now, my wife, Nicole also assistant coach them. And then the boys were the quizzers. And so we did this as a family, as some of their friends joined the team too. And all it did was it place the word of God in their hearts, just like the Bible says,
Daniel King (13:03):
So they were memorizing entire books of the Bible, and then you memorized it along with them, right. Just to help quiz them and coaching them to do very well with, with Bible. Cause what a tremendous way to, to hide God’s word.
Kevin Wagner (13:18):
The nice, the fun thing about it is, you know, boys generally teenage boys are competitive by nature. And so this Bible quiz was really competitive. And so this was kind of like their sport. We played it like a sport. And even though we played other sports for fun, this is kind of our competitive thing. And the boys just were super good at it. And you know, all, all four of the boys have memorized, like you said, literally entire books of the new Testament. Some of the boys that memorize three gospels, like three words, not like thought, you know, over a thousand verses in some of these books, I memorize 19 books of the new Testament mainly the smaller books, but each of us have memorized literally thousands of verses of the new Testament. And I quote on the way over here to your house today to do the podcast, I was quoting through the book of acts, just driving along. What chapter are you on in the book of acts? Well, today I was just, I kind of started, I quoted like the end of the book of Jude and then I went into acts. And so I was quoting into acts one and three, I think one, two and three.
Daniel King (14:20):
Wow. That’s tremendous. So let’s talk more about raising kids as an evangelist. Sure. You know, it would be a great tragedy to lead thousands of people to Jesus and to have one of your own kids fall away from Christ and not, not make it to heaven. So, so w what priority do you think the evangelists should put on raising children and on their family? Well,
Kevin Wagner (14:46):
Obviously I would say this, that the priority of your family first over ministry even is, is paramount. It needs to your family means it needs to be taken care of first. And, you know, the Bible says that if you don’t do that, you’re worse than a pagan. You’re worse than an unbeliever. And, and they’re not just talking physical needs. They’re, they’re talking emotional and spiritual are and physical needs. So you need to put your family prioritize, prioritize them first. I think for me, one of the things, one of the, in the progression of giving people an opportunity, my family, an opportunity to see what God’s call was on their life. You know, when they, I mentioned how, when they were 15, they started doing their own teen conferences. But when they became 18 years old, dr. Daniel, then I invited them if they wanted to.
Kevin Wagner (15:40):
And all of them said that they wanted to, and they did, if they wanted to, they could start doing their own crusades in these countries. And I wouldn’t go with them. Their mom went with them, my wife, Nicole would go with them, but they would start literally preaching at the teaching at the pastors conferences and doing the crusade meetings in front of all these people. Now they’d already been seeing all these things modeled for them for five years. Why did I do this? I did not do this in an attempt to try to impose God’s calling on their life, because I was very clear from the start with the boys. I want you to do what Jesus has called you to do. When we see sometimes we see ministers trying to impose a calling on their children. That just because they’re, they were called to be in this type of ministry, then their kids should be too.
Kevin Wagner (16:32):
And it doesn’t usually work out well, it may seem to work out well for a short time, but in the long run, it doesn’t seem to work out well. So I was very cognizant of that. And so what I wanted to do with it simply show them what the life and the calling of an evangelist is like. And to help them make an informed decision as they became older, what God wanted them to do with their life. So at least they knew what what they would begin to selves into. If they said yes to God’s called to be an evangelist, if that was what he wanted. And so far out of my four kids one of them is an evangelist along with me. One of them is a in full time ministry as a pastor to a large thriving church. And the other two are still discerning, God’s call in their life. But the bot and who knows, maybe all of them worked for a ministry, dr. Daniel into their twenties. They were all doing crusades for our ministry, into their twenties. And then as time went on, some have stayed with it, some haven’t, but it doesn’t mean they’re not serving the Lord. They’re just going with what they believe God’s calling them to do for the season of life. And who knows, some of them may transition into evangelism again, like I did later on in life. That’s tremendous what a great blessing that is. What, what more advice
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (17:50):
Would you give to an evangelist who has young children? So, so your son, Josh, he now has three kids and one more on the way. That’s right. And so, so what advice are you giving to your son, Josh, as he starts to raise your grandchildren?
Kevin Wagner (18:08):
Sure. So, I mean, I think I would say this, that schooling is a big issue. We talked about Bible quiz. We talked about how I think, you know, honestly, in terms of hobbies and time that you spend your time, things that you spend your time on with your children and teenagers, I don’t think there’s any better hobby than Bible quiz, because it gets the word of God into your heart. And it says, Bible says, how can a young man keep his way pure by living? According, according to your word, I’ve hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Now, having settled that I think that another hugely important thing is and my wife and I have taught parenting conferences occasionally through the years. And one of the things that we say too, that’s really big is, is how are you going to school, your kids? Obviously the type of schooling that you do with your kids is also, we believe a calling from God. We’re not saying that everyone needs to homeschool, even though we did, we’re not saying everyone needs to put their kids in a private Christian school, even though at this point, your kids are dr. Daniel.
Daniel King (19:07):
My kids are at victory school and we decided to put them in there because they have chapel twice a week. They memorize scriptures that teachers pray over them, lead them in devotions every day. And so we wanted our kids to be in an atmosphere of learning about God, rather than a secular atmosphere.
Kevin Wagner (19:27):
And then the other option, typically, at least in North America is public schooling. And depending on the school district, there are still some school districts. I know, especially in Oklahoma, that they run their schools very much like Christian schools still, you know, and they have their kind of throwbacks in that whole public school system. But if you choose the public school route, I think you really need to feel called by God to do that. Because what’s increasingly happening in our culture in the U S and Canada is of course that God is not just being really kind of expelled from school, but by the enemy and many of the enemies teachings and worldviews have been invited in to replace that vacuum. And so you really need, I think if your kids are going to be in the public school system, you want to have them as you want to give them a mindset of being a missionary, whenever they go to school that they’re entering, you know, the largest mission field in North America on a daily basis. And so I think that you’ve got, you’ve got those three main decisions to make when a term, when it comes to schooling your kids, especially when your kids start, you know, getting to the age of kindergarten and beyond. So that’s really huge, you know, gotta, gotta get on your knees, got to fast and pray, God, what do you want me to do with my kids? What are you? They’re your kids, ultimately, they’re on loan from you. What do you want me to do with your kids? Yeah,
Daniel King (20:52):
Well, let’s finish up today with advice from Paul to Timothy, who is one of his spiritual sons, and first Timothy three, he’s talking about what an ideal Bishop would look like, who is called to, to lead people in the body of Christ. And even though this is written to a Bishop, I think it applies to an evangelist as well. Verse two of first Timothy chapter three, it says now the overseer or the Bishop must be above reproach, the husband of, but one wife temperate, self-controlled respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not lover of. And so all that is good, but specifically about a family, he says he must manage his own family. Well, yes. And so I think that is excellent advice to the evangelist. So you have to learn to, to manage your own family. Well,
Kevin Wagner (21:57):
Exactly right. And I think just to quickly say one more thing about word of advice for how to raise your kids, especially when they’re younger, not just as an evangelist family, but, but as a, as a Christian family, you want to be on top of the media, that media that they’re involving themselves with. And so you want to make very sure that you’re doing what you can as a parent to monitor internet usage and what they’re listening to, what they’re watching, et cetera not in an, in an intrusive way, but in a in a responsible way, because you want to try to do whatever you can to help them to be exposed to godly stuff. Instead of the other I think this chapter in first, Timothy three about overseers and deacons is just incredible. Dr. Daniel, I mean, yes. You need to manage your own family well, and a big part of that as being on the same page as your wife, in terms of rearing child raising. And if there’s a discrepancy there, you want to talk things through,
Evangelism Coach Daniel King (23:04):
Certainly didn’t raise your kids alone. Your wife absolutely has done an excellent job. In fact, she probably gets a lot of the credit for raising four boys that love Jesus.
Kevin Wagner (23:14):
Yes. Amen. I think too. The other thing that, that we did as a family, God told me in 1996, when my boys were still all pretty young, I remember coming back from Atlanta, Georgia, we were out doing an outreach during the pre-Olympic days in Atlanta. And on the way home, the Lord spoke to me, he says, get your house in order. And I said, God, I thought I already had an art. He says, no, there’s, there’s something you need to do. And I came home because God and told, told Nicole about this. He says, we got to start having a family daily, quiet time as a family. And so from 1996 on right up until the boys, really for the most part left for university and moved out we did daily quiet times at the boys. And I don’t mean we just kind of did daily.
Kevin Wagner (23:59):
I mean, you could pretty much count on both hands in one year. How many days we didn’t do quiet time as a family together, you know? And what does that mean? It means that you sit down with them, you you read a chapter of the word of God. You talk about that. You hear what they talk that they learned about in their own daily devotions. You pray together, you speak in tongues together. It’s, it doesn’t have to take a super long amount of time, but it’s a time of your day where you focus your attention as a family on Jesus and what the Bible has to tell us about him. And I think looking back on our on our family, the single most important thing that Nicole and I did as parents was maintain that daily, quiet time with our boys regularly, consistently, and over a long period of time
Daniel King (24:51):
In our family, we do nightly Bible stories. And so they’re at the age where they love hearing Bible stories. And so we have a series of Bible story books that I read to them. And usually I’ll, I’ll read one or then they like ask for another one and then they ask for another one. So we usually end up reading like three or four stories. And finally I’m like, okay, you have to go to bed now they’ll use any excuse they can to not actually go to bed. And so they’re like read one more. We want more. And so that’s been fun. And then even more recently, we’ve started to read through the Chronicles of Narnia, which has some great spiritual truths in it. It’s fun. So we’ll read a couple of Bible stories and I’ll read a couple chapters of Chronicles of Narnia. And then we’ll talk about the, the different spiritual principles that are in those chapters. And so that’s been great fun. It’s so good. So, well, thank you for sharing about how you raised your boys to love Jesus, dr. Kevin.
Kevin Wagner (25:52):
Oh, it’s been a pleasure to talk about those things with you, Dr. Daniel, God bless you.