Monday, March 25, 2013

Who's Raising Your Kids?

I bet you think this is going to be another one of those Mommy Wars blog posts, where moms bash each other about staying home to raise kids or to go to work and put the kids in day care.

Nope. This isn't about that.
It's about something even more controversial. It's about the church.

I've been a mom for 17 years. I've been in the church almost since birth. My parents have held both paid and volunteer positions at church buildings and/or for other church related events. I have held many positions for church events. Guess what most of those positions have been, in the past 17 years.

Most of you guessed nursery care or Sunday School, right? You're right. That's where I've always been. You don't see me in church service? That's because we're teaching Sunday School! You don't see us at small groups? That's because we are always down the hall taking care of our kids. Or because we stopped going because we were neither contributing to or taking anything away from small group meetings.

Guess what our ministry is right now? Our kids.

Now, let me pose a question.  Is it considered a free hour of babysitting to send our kids to Sunday School on Sunday mornings while we listen, for that hour, to someone sharing something they have learned on an adult level?

I guess that could be the same attitude as considering public school to be free babysitting for six hours a day.  Ooooh, I totally felt many of you shoot the hate right through the computer screen.

Here's where I am with this idea of Sunday School and me not teaching it.

It isn't because I don't like kids. Okay, I kind of have a problem with liking some kids. It's totally true. I do love kids. It's been a learned thing. I mean, c'mon. Kids are loud and messy and always need all sorts of attention. They jump around and ask a lot of questions.

Let me be clear. I love my own kids like a momma bear. It's other people's kids that I need to make an effort at loving. And I've done it! I mean, God gave the Holy Spirit to guide me and remind me. He gave me the capacity to love children. Even the tough ones.

Maybe you have trusted me to to love your kids while I taught Sunday School.  Let me ask you another question. Did you think I was going to teach them every lesson about God and the Holy Spirit, Jesus, love, wisdom, etc. that they need to learn all while in Sunday School for about and hour each week?  No? Okay, good, because I didn't.

Here's what I DID do. I loved your kids.  I had a lesson plan to work through, you know, because it is, after all, Sunday School. I used it as a guide to keep things moving along and to reign in the chaos that grows inside a large group of like-aged kiddos.  When your kids had questions, or testimonies or...other..stories to tell, I listened. I told them about Jesus' unconditional love. I told them about being respectful, and being a good friend. I told them about making wise choices. I told them about how much I love Jesus, and how sometimes I, too, make unwise choices and how Jesus loves me anyway.

I bet you tell that to your little pun'kins all the time. How many times do you think they actually hear you? After a while, I bet your voice sounds like white noise to them. They've heard your sound, your tone, your phrasing so many times, they can probably tell you what you are going to say.  This is good. It means you are being consistent, and you mean what you are teaching.

It also means that children might hear the exact same thing from someone else just one time and they will suddenly grasp it. They might even be excited about it, sharing with you this amazing bit of wisdom that they learned from such-and-such fantastic person.

And then we are exasperated because it's what we've been hoping to get them to understand for their entire lives thus far!

Wait. Exasperated? We've been hoping they'd learn it, then we're irritated when they learn it from someone else?

Yeah. We are. Why?

So, I'm not teaching Sunday School any more. Not forever, just for now. It's not because I don't love kids anymore. It's because I have kids in every Sunday School class age bracket. It's because my kids need to hear YOUR voice. They need to hear from other people that love Jesus, and love them.

Are you part of a church that has baby dedications?  So far, every church I've been part of does.  Part of that dedication ceremony involves the parents asking the congregation to come along side the family and being purposeful about helping them to raise the child with a biblical world view, to teach them to love Jesus and to be an honorable, virtuous person.

How many of us are doing that? Do we just smile at the cute babies and then shake our heads when a youngster appears to be headed straight for hell in a handbasket, clucking our tongues about how their parents should really be laying down the law and making a better effort?

Are we really coming alongside parents and being another example of someone that is trustworthy and Godly? Are we ready to help out with mentoring biblical values? I'm not talking about offering to babysit (although I really wouldn't mind, and you can message me if you feel so moved...). I'm talking about taking someone else's kid to a ballgame, or out for a burger.  I'm talking about people who don't have kids or who's kids are grown up.

You still have something to offer in your church community. It doesn't have to be all about singing on the worship team or keeping the church kitchen clean!  There are relationships to be had with some amazing young people, and YOU could be one of the people in their lives that guides them to greatness!

Talk to a parent. Ask them how they would feel about you spending time with their child. Tell them why you want to do it. Tell them your life verse and explain that you want to share with their kid some testimony in your life about the tremendous transformational power of Jesus Christ.  Let them know that it is your intent to be involved in their kids life as someone who longs for their soul to be forever in the Kingdom of God. Even if it's just to meet up a few times a year for a Dairy Queen treat.

And I'm not speaking only to those that aren't already involved with kids.  Families...I'm talking to you, too. Make a list of men and women that you would like to see mentoring your kids, then ask! See if you can get five people to join you on this journey of raising awesome children of God!

I've contacted some ladies to come along side us with my teen daughter, and we are compiling lists for the other kiddos, too.

Make your list, contact people, tell me how it goes!