Throughout the years, I’ve talked with a lot of people about living for the Lord apart from going to a church place, and one question always seems to come up. “Yeah, but what about your kids? Don’t they need church?” It’s a fair question. After all, how will children ever learn about God, right?
Well, in this post I hope to address that valid concern.
As with most of my musings, I’d like to preface this with a simple statement that bears repeating. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Going to a church place is not wrong.
If you enjoy going and find life, please keep going! Most of the time, people read what I write and become stuck on this idea that I am slamming going to a church place. I am not. I’m simply sharing thoughts that I feel folks should consider in the grand scheme of what it means to follow Jesus, especially for those outside the walls of church buildings.
So with that in mind, read on if you care to.
As some of you may already know, I have served on staff as a youth/worship leader at several church places. These positions kept me quite busy and unfortunately, I often neglected my duties as dad to my own four kids, especially when it came to their spiritual development. Still, I wasn’t too concerned. After all, we had “children’s programs” at church, and I could trust that my children were receiving the spiritual nourishment they needed…or could I?
It was on a ride home from Sunday morning services when my trust in allowing my fellow church place goers to pour good things into my children, came to an abrupt end.
Driving down the road, my wife and I began to question my oldest children about what they had learned in “children’s church” that day. My oldest son responded, “Oh, we just planted another seed”. “Another seed?” My wife replied. “Honey what do you mean another seed?” My son Will paused a moment, and then in a very matter of fact voice shared, “You know that story about the sower and the seeds. We just did it again.”
At this point, the obvious question came into my mind. I responded, “So son, how many times have you planted seeds at church?” “Uh, we do it every week. I think this is the fourth time.”
My wife and I just looked at each other with that, “What the heck did I just hear” face.
After a bit of probing, it turned out that indeed, my children had become little farmers for the Lord! Over the course of the month, they had planted a whole crop’s worth of seeds, and the harvest was gonna be huge! You see, every week the “children’s church team” rotated leaders, and every week they were responsible for “the lesson”. Fortunately for these unprepared leaders who were showing up empty handed on Sunday mornings, there were plenty of seeds, cups, and dirt left over from the last “leader's” lesson. So guess what kiddos? Today, we’re gonna plant a few more seeds and share the exact same story you’ve heard for the past few weeks.
I felt a terrible sense of shame wash over me. Yes, I could blame these lazy people for shirking their responsibility, but honestly, this was on me. As head of our home, wasn’t it my responsibility to ensure that my children were growing spiritually? Indeed it was, and I knew things needed to change.
If you’re a parent, God wants you to know He has entrusted YOU with the responsibility of raising up your children in the faith. Are there great children’s programs out there with amazing people leading those programs? Absolutely! Has God charged them with the task of ensuring your child grows up with a solid Christian worldview and a mature faith in Jesus? Absolutely not! Sorry parent, but that’s your job! In fact, I would challenge you to find anything in the bible that would suggest that is not the case.
I’m not saying these programs can’t be an asset to your child’s spiritual growth, but to allow them to be the sole source of what children learn about the faith is quite reckless and completely irresponsible.
The truth of the matter is most parents know little about the people teaching their children at church, and even less about what is being taught or how it is being presented.
Question: If your child came home from school sharing that the teacher had taught the exact same lesson for the past month, wouldn’t you be a bit concerned? Sure you would! Yet, for some reason we rarely question what is going into the hearts and minds of our kids attending these programs that churches provide. Again, I’m not saying all programs are bad. What I am saying here is that we as parents must take up the mantle of responsibility God Himself has given us as THE spiritual shepherds of our children. To do less is to abandon our kids to whims of who your church has deemed suitable to instruct your child. And as we know, most of the time finding teachers in church boils down to, “Who can we get to do this job for us?” Not the greatest way to go about raising up the next generation in the faith.
Bottom line: Parents are called by God to bring up their own kids in the faith. We alone are called carry the responsibility of ensuring our children learn, grow and mature.
Yes, there are seeds that need planting, but maybe it’s time we pushed up our sleeves and assumed responsibility for our own fields!