I’ve been too lazy in teaching my kids about God.
Here’s a typical Sunday morning at our house:
7:30am- The husband wakes up and starts getting ready. This is probably the one day of the week that he wakes up earlier than me and I sleep later BECAUSE I CAN.
7:45am- I roll out of bed and head to the shower. Around this time the littles start trickling into our bedroom from theirs and promptly take over our bed.
8:00am- We start encouraging the kids to get dressed. Inevitably someone will pick out a dress/outfit that is either A. not weather appropriate B. not church appropriate or C. not going-out-in-public appropriate. There will be some arguing and possibly some tears. In the end we usually have someone walk out the door in flip flops when it’s 45 degrees outside. Pick your battles, people.
8:30am- The husband heads to church early, leaving the rest of us to run around like chickens with our heads cut off. I don’t know why his leaving seems to cause madness, but it does.
8:45am- The threats begin. Threats of teeth falling out because someone refuses to brush teeth. Threats of privileges being taken away because someone won’t get their shoes on. Threats of cutting someone’s hair all off because they scream and run away at the sight of the hairbrush. All the while I am trying to get myself ready.
9:00am- Chaos. At least one child can’t find shoes. Another child is begging me to fix their hair as I try to finish putting my makeup on. Another child has been crying they are hungry for 20 minutes. I bribe them with the promise of donuts IF they will hurry up and get ready.
9:15am- We should be in the car driving to church at this point. But we aren’t. Ever. I am probably yelling at someone to come out of the house and get in the car, there is probably a child playing in the street instead of getting in the car, and I am probably trying frantically to pour myself a cup of coffee that just may save my sanity.
9:20am- At this point hopefully we are on our way to church. I may or may not realize that one child didn’t actually put shoes on but there’s no turning back now. We run through the drive through for donuts (please don’t lecture me about enabling their behavior by rewarding them with donuts) and screech into the church parking lot precisely 5 minutes after I am supposed to already be teaching a Sunday School class. I hurry them off to their classes and breathe a sigh of relief.
You may wonder why in the world we put ourselves through this madness every.single.week. I’ll be honest, there are some days I would rather just stay in bed and avoid the hassle. But we make church a priority because we know it is so very important. We connect with dear friends and fellow believers. We worship the Lord. We are taught and encouraged by the Word. Our kids receive valuable instruction for their growing faith and understanding of God. Church is good. It’s important.
But what happens when we allow the church to be solely responsible for teaching our children about faith?
I admit to you that we have been guilty of this. And we are pastors, for goodness sake. I’m not saying that we don’t talk about God or read the Bible at home with our kids. We do. We pray together every night and we have conversations about faith and Jesus and the Bible often. But we have often failed to be intentional in creating time to really instruct them in their faith.
Some of you know this, but we will be moving overseas later this year to a place where corporate worship will look much different. There will be no Sunday School or Children’s Church. There will be no girls and boys clubs and kids ministry events. Our kids ministry will be us as parents ministering to our own kids. This excites and scares me all at the same time. Because here, when life gets busy and we get caught up in work and school and chores and activities, we have the church to fall back on in educating our kids about spiritual things.
But I wonder, in having so many church-based programs for every part of the family, if perhaps we have handicapped ourselves in truly learning how to work out our own salvation, and disciple others to do the same.
We have made it so easy here in America to allow the organized church to carry the weight of teaching and discipleship. We have initiated programs upon programs upon programs to do all the teaching, training, discipling and instructing. We have given parents a free pass on having to really teach their kids about Jesus. And I fear we have created a generation of Christians who are content with just coming to church each week and having that be sufficient for their personal development of faith. We’ve taken the work out of it. And I believe we are suffering for it.
I read a lot about the persecuted church and believers living in very unreached areas of the world, and I can’t help but notice a difference in the level of commitment to faith, discipleship and the devotion to prayer and study of the Word exhibited by Christ followers in those areas. Often there is no organized church or programs to teach and train them. The “church” is simply a gathering of believers who are learning together who Jesus is and what it looks like to follow Him.
I read an incredible story in “The Insanity of God” by Nik Ripkin that told about a man who was sent to prison for 17 years simply because he realized his children needed to be taught the Word of God, and their weekly family worship time turned into a full-blown house church during the time of communist Russia. His knew his devotion to teaching his kids about God could lead him to imprisonment, but he did not falter. He had no kids ministry or Sunday school to lean on. Whether or not his children learned to follow Jesus was his sole responsibility. As it should be.
I have been convicted lately that I need to be more intentional in teaching my kids about the faith we confess and why we live the way we do. Living it out in front of them is key, but I cannot rely on the church to do my job as a parent in teaching them the Word. In the same way, I cannot blame the church for my child’s lack of understanding of faith or following Jesus. I have been entrusted with these precious souls, and it is my responsibility to “train them up in the way they should go.” This doesn’t mean I have to know everything about the Bible or that they may not ask questions that I don’t have the answer to. But together we will study and learn and grow in our knowledge and understanding of God and this life He calls and equips us to live. And to me, that’s way more exciting than just sending my kids to church and hoping they learn something from it.
Friends- let’s stop just taking (or dragging) our kids to church to be taught and let’s start the teaching at home. Let’s be intentional in discipling our kids. Let’s create opportunities for real and hard and honest conversations about what it really means to know God and follow Jesus. May they learn about repentance, holiness and grace from us. May their hearts be stirred to know Jesus because they see their parents on their knees before Him. May they long to have the faith they have seen lived out and taught to them by their mamas and daddies because they know it is real.
Our Sundays will still be crazy because connecting with the body of Christ will always be important. If you peek in my windows at 9am this Sunday you will probably still see chaos as I try to get my crew out the door and off to church. But perhaps this week if you peek in my window one evening, you would see a family gathered around, reading, talking, praying and working out our faith together.
And if I have to bribe them with donuts, so be it.