I’m going to ruffle a feather or two…So, let me start out by saying I think highly of the people and many friends who work in children’s ministry. It’s a tough ministry…I called it the Armageddon ministry when I labored therein. Why? Because some days when the last kid was (finally) picked up I would have gladly welcomed the End of Days…with open arms. No joke. Children’s ministry is exhausting and a labor of love. I make it a point to thank every individual who tends to my children on every Sunday morning.
I used to haul the kids to church every time the doors were open. Over the summer I would enroll them in several Vacation Bible Schools in the community. We quit attending all but Sunday morning service almost a year ago. I just did not feel that my children were really learning much and we were losing time together as a family. Service is great but not at the expense of time with my husband and children. I’ve thunk a thought or two over this and sought God’s heart on the matter.
I’ve heard a few sermons now on young adults leaving their faith. These are Christian kids reared in the Church who are leaving their beliefs behind and embracing worldly, secular culture. I think today’s culture is increasingly anti-Christian and is becoming more actively hostile each year. I do not want my children to embrace the secular culture. I want them to have a deep and abiding faith in God and a trusting love in the Scripture. Statistics show they will not get this in children’s ministry. Why?
I really do not know the answer. There are some books that have come out recently but I am not sure anyone has a concrete answer to why our kids are leaving their faith behind. I will share my thoughts and welcome your views as well. My kids have been taught many Old Testament stories. They know about Abraham, Isaac, Noah and Moses. Once my oldest asked me if I would kill him if God asked me to. When I asked him why he would ask me such a crazy question he told me the Abraham story he learned in church that day. Sobering moment.
I think the theology of the Old Testament is not for children. We teach them about Noah and Moses but the significance of these passages are not easily grasped by young children. We teach our children how great and faithful Abraham was and fail to point out that it is God who is faithful despite Abraham’s unfaithfulness. God remained faithful to his people despite their unfaithfulness to Him. The Law points out our need for a Savior and I think this is the basic teaching of the Old Testament. I am not sure that my children are ready to learn this…or capable until the middle school years. The Old Testament is rich and I do not want them to disregard it as reading material for children when they get older.
We are going to disciple our children ourselves. I was naïve to think they received enough instruction from church. God’s word is meant to be passed from the parents. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9,Proverbs 1:8, 2 Timothy 1:5) The whole point of the Scriptures is to teach us about and point us to Jesus. So we will not begin with the Old Testament…we will begin with the Gospel…with Jesus. I want them to know and trust Jesus more than I want them to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Bible.
May 7, 2013 at 3:33 am
You have some interesting thoughts here. I appreciate you sharing your heart.
You might be interested in watching a free online film called ‘Divided – the movie’. Some thought-provoking insight into the origins of Sunday school. 😉
May 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm
Thanks for directing me to that movie. Wow!!!
May 7, 2013 at 7:28 am
Always good to ruffle a feather or two, gets people thinking and seeking! I wonder if those families that go to church are following Deuteronomy outside of church? Which may also explain why so many leave the church.
May 20, 2013 at 10:31 pm
I ruffled more feathers with this than I intended to…should have seen the number of messages, texts and emails I got…
May 11, 2013 at 1:32 am
Wow, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve grown up in church my whole life. The one thing that I learned a long time ago was that the real learning and instruction in my faith came outside of church. Youth night and Sunday School at church wasn’t the time that I came to know the Lord in a deep and personal way, it was a fun time of fellowship with friends. Vacation Bible School and Sunday School were initially started to reach the “unchurched” children within a community; the children whose parent’s didn’t know the Lord. I often worry that churches are spending so much time reaching the lost– which we need to do– that we aren’t spending enough time in discipling our Christians. Does that make sense? J and I taught SS for several years and too often I saw that parents really did see that 1 hour per week as the basis for teaching them about our Savior and our faith. It just wasn’t realistic. You have to walk it and talk it to them– “when they get up and when they lie down. When they eat and as they go about the day”.
May 20, 2013 at 10:33 pm
You may have a point about youth group being a way to reach the unchurched…
May 13, 2013 at 12:10 pm
A couple of thoughts: Well done to insulate your family against questionable or scary examples of faith and take control of their Christian education. I grew up thinking that God was mean and judgmental before I understood that there were wise reasons for His actions!
God created the family before He created the church. Integrity and Christian values begin at home. Teachers are human and God bless them, they have your best interests at heart I’m sure, but they are still human and it’s very hard to remember to reduce an adult’s brain down to a “why?” child’s level of understanding.
Too many adults are ignoring or not taking the reins of responsibility for their child’s faith today. It’s not smart to let them decide for themselves as they get older – too much in the way of smut to distract them. Your children are so blessed to have you!
May 20, 2013 at 10:24 pm
Thank you Ellie. I also grew up thinking God was uncaring and scary. I do not want my children to feel he is unapproachable. I think so many families have left the passing on of the faith to churches and have forgotten the mandate to teach their own children. I think churches do the best they can but they are meant to come along side the parents not be the only source of Christian education. I think it is important to know Jesus first and then the rest of the amazing story.
May 20, 2013 at 10:07 pm
Your so right. I am one of those kids who wake up 2x a week to gove service to the church. I even have church resposibilities like a secretary but ended giving up. I still believe in Christ and God but the way some religions think of GOD is just wrong, like the 10 commandments says “love you parents as you love me” yet some church says by the time of judgement if they are not part of the right church, they will burn in hell and you can watch. Who would want to watch parents burning in Hell?!
We are not practicing any religion but we pray and we as my son’s parents teaches him how forgiving and loving God is. Maybe in his time he can choose which sectoral religion he would join but we wont force him to any of our past belief.
May 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm
Well…I am no expert on scripture but I do not recall reading that anyone would have to watch the suffering of others in Hell. There are many denominations within Christianity with many different beliefs and traditions. I pray you and your family will be able to find a Christian community you can grow with and raise your little boy in peace.
May 31, 2013 at 7:42 am
I’m on of those “kids” who left theism altogether. I have no desire to expose my children to what I was exposed to in Sunday School, Catechism classes and sermons. When I was a young mother someone gave my daughter, who was 5 at the time, a picture Bible. She brought it to me and asked why the man with a big club was trying to kill the little boy (Abraham & Isaac). She had nightmares and I threw the book in the trash.
May 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm
Do you mean “theism ” in the classical sense or that you no longer believe in one God at all or possible many gods? I am merely curious and intend no condemnation or judgement toward you and your beliefs.
June 4, 2013 at 10:36 am
I have no belief in any god or supreme being and have no inclination to being part of a religion that does so. Does that make sense?
June 5, 2013 at 11:09 am
I understand your comment Meg, thank you for coming back and clearing it up for me. I am saddened that your experience left you without faith or comfort. I write a lot about my faith here but hope that you feel comfortable to come back and read and leave your own comments. Anyway I think you are right for getting rid of something that frightened your child.