Sunday, August 4, 2013

Raising Our Kids in the Church (Thoughts from a Gray-haired Mom)

My husband and I both grew up in families that thought church was important. Dave's dad was a pastor and my dad was a missionary and a pastor. 

One Sunday evening, when Dave was young, no one showed up for church. The family was lined up on the front row, and Dave's dad preached his entire message. :)

This week, I have been reading lots of bits and pieces on the internet, where people are sharing their experiences and reflections on being raised in the church. 



I think we all have tendencies to be like a pendulum. Reactions to our experiences in the church (or life in general,) often result in the pendulum swinging completely the opposite direction. The next generation may swing it back the other way.

I, gray-haired mom, would love to recommend an intentional and thoughful move to the center

Let me give you two examples that I have been reading on blogs this week:

1. Reading Bible stories: I have read some strong statements about Sunday School classes that held up Bible characters as models to follow, etc.

The natural pedulum swing, would be to not read Bible stories to our children at all. This would be sad.

As parents, we want to be responsible and intentional to tell the stories to our kids in a way that does not shame them, hold up false ideals or minimize the actual Biblical accounts.

My adult daughters have introduced me to a wonderful, balanced, non-pedulum swinging option.



The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones, tells the beautiful, funny, strange Bible stories, not as a moral, but as a way that leads us to Jesus. I love the byline ... "every story whispers his name." 

2. Memorizing Scripture: Another hot topic has been memorizing Scripture verses as kids, that were out of context, not understood and then receiving prizes for it.

The natural pendulum swing is to not have your kids memorize Scripture at all. May I again, suggest something in the middle.

When we were kids (ages ago), our family memorized Scripture together around our dinner table each night. It was fun, a shared experience and we talked about what the verses meant. We also memorized entire psalms and longer passages. (I can still quote the Christmas story from Luke 2 that I memorized when I was six.)

I often have a verse come to mind at the perfect time I need comfort, encouragement or exhortation, that I did not even know that I knew. (Thanks, dad and mom.)

I believe as parents, it is our responsibility and joy to disciple/mentor/teach our kids with wisdom and intentionality ... with a little fun thrown in, too. Since parents are sinners, too, we have many chances to learn together.

Please do not throw out the baby with the bath water 

What things have worked at your church and in your home? 

image credit: pendulum, book 

Linking with the Soli Sisters.

26 comments:

  1. The book you suggest sounds wonderful, and I like your ideas.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love that you had the courage to tackle this topic and I love your approach. I have so many thoughts about this, why my generation is so unfriendly towards church in general, etc. I find that people whose parents walked the talk have an easier time having church as a part of their lives. I mourn for so many who feel lost in life without a spiritual anchor and who know not where to look for peace. In a world where people are over tired and seeking temporary pleasures, fitting a sacrifice for time to participate in church seems impossible to many. I am so glad church has always been a part of my life. The time I give to my spiritual development makes everything else I must do in life easier and more understandable. Keep teaching the gentle word, my friend. I wish I lived near you. I would love to attend your bible studies, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, Glenda! Yes! Of course there are things that "older" generations did that we may not want to do as parents, but you put it so well that we shouldn't throw the baby out with the bath water. I pray that my girls will love the church and love her well as they move into adulthood and make decisions that will impact future generations. Thanks for saying this.

    And thanks to kalanicut above who wrote such a gracious response. Beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree with you Glenda, it seems that life is a pendulum in almost every area. A healthy balance in the middle is what works for us without compromising the important stuff. I love that kids Bible, it speaks the truth so clearly!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much for sharing your wise thoughts, Glenda. I so appreciate that you think things through, are always intentional, and approach things from a place of love. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  6. You present a nice balance...I was not raised in the church. But I have a verse that God gave me (out of context) from Ecclesiastes...and it states that Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes. I was raised in an extremely liberal home. Ironically, I am passionate about Jesus...and accepted Christ at age 28 with much baggage. God is still unpacking my bags but I travel lighter now. And I follow Him. I relate well to believers and unbelievers well, I suppose because of the way I was raised- open to all, but desiring truth. Coming to Christ was eye opening but then, seeing and hearing so much discrepancy in churches also was... anyway- I love that Bible. God really is faithful, I think Christians need to learn to be more gracious with one another if they want to truly be effective toward those who are yet to believe. In His Grace, Dawn

    ReplyDelete
  7. As a child, church was a social as well as an educational event; my mom was the choir director, my father the organist. And we spent a LOT of time in church. It was OK, since it was the only time we went to town.
    My husband was a pastor so our kids had the same experience, except that they didn't have to hang around the church waiting for dad to finish up. Now, they take their own kids to church these days but have become somewhat disenchanted with the social aspects of their membership...they are asked to volunteer too much for various things because others don't want to do the babysitting in the nursery, teaching, providing coffee service, and participating at downtown missions. They're working it out in various ways.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love what you've shared. Teaching about Bible characters has merit when we openly share their sins as well as God's forgiveness and the way He went on to bless them. Or not! We need to teach our kids and grandkids that they weren't perfect people - just people God loved and chose to use in some way. Good or bad! Memorizing whole passages or chapters is so meaningful. I cherish those that I learned early on.
    ~Adrienne~

    ReplyDelete
  9. It really is about fun--do WE enjoy God? Does He matter in our lives? How can we make Him really real and not overdo it?
    Excellent post, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  10. My kids LOVE The Jesus Storybook Bible! I love seeing which stories they want to hear read over & over. Good idea about verse memorization. Maybe I'll try that, at least with my 5 year old. I think she's ready for it and might be really helpful to her & ME! :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is wonderful advice. We did much of the same when my kids were growing up. We also encouraged our kids, when they were old enough, to consider having a "quiet time" to read a scripture or two, to ponder what they'd read, etc. As my children grew, I am pretty sure I learned just as much about character development as they did! :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. What wise advise! I wish I had learned Scripture when I was young, it's much tougher to memorize now.

    ReplyDelete
  13. G,
    I agree. People either gush or rant about being raised in the church. I highly, highly reccommend the Jesus Storybook Bible. We have it and love it!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Yes, yes, yes! I love the Jesus Storybook Bible. I used it a lot when planning Sunday school curriculum for preschoolers. I think the root of the pendulum swinging has a lot to do with fear -- we don't want what scares us and so we move as far away from that as we can. But what we don't realize is that any time we move away from God, we will feel that fear. It may come in a different form, but it is still fear.

    ReplyDelete
  15. balance! and i agree with you
    praying a beautiful day for you...xo

    ReplyDelete
  16. I think you're right, middle of the road. My father was choir director at church for many years and Bill went to a Lutheran school, so we were both very involved with church, and he knows Scripture fairly well. The book is great for kids. Good post!

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have always struggled to memorize anything. Still a struggle. Therefore, I have a soft spot in my heart for kids who struggle to memorize some of the long list of verses and watch the kids who can do it so easily, say them all, and get the prize. I confess for my kids, the pendulum tended to swing towards no memorization. Balance is a goal which I constantly try to achieve! Bless you, Glenda, for sharing your words of wisdom!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I agree that balance is key. I'm thankful for memories of being raise in church and hope to instill that same feeling in our own kids someday. :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. I LOVED this post too, Glenda. We have that 'Bible' for our children and it's lovely.

    With five littlies, this is question constantly on my mind...so THANK YOU for your wise words.

    Sarahxx

    ReplyDelete
  20. I love your practical advises <3

    Ludmila

    ReplyDelete
  21. I just have to say AMEN..we have used that Bible with our youngest, and although my middle ones didn't do Awana, I put the youngest one into Awana. Most churches in our area don't have Sunday School..so my kids never experienced that, but I wished they had. I have no regrets about my church experience, yet I am part of the generation that felt they could do it better and different...now at age 52, I wonder if we did.
    I still read the Bible at home, we still memorized at home...and no matter where my children roam I know those seeds will come back to them

    ReplyDelete
  22. I agree with your things in the middle! Amen. We need God's word in our hearts and we need to learn the bible stories as again, this is God's word. I am and have been part of teaching my kids about the Lord in a meaningful way. Love visiting your blog always.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Glenda,
    I agree with you...and what a blessing to be able to recall Scripture when you need it..Thank you for sharing a little about your family :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. Mrs. McCloud and her flannel board (Glenda, remember those?)...she was my elementary age Sunday School teacher and I still remember her fondly. She was in her 60's then and loved Jesus; she passed her love to me and, hopefully, the other students.
    I remember one Christmas Sunday, I was 13 or 14, when Daddy and I went to church and only half dozen people showed up. The excuse was, "It's Christmas" which confused me. Yep, it's Christmas Day, it's Sunday and how fabulous was it we could celebrate both at once?!
    One thing I love to do is buy Bible story books and give them to parents...get them started young and their lives will all be better.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I LOVE this Glenda. You are inspiring me.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Excellent, Glenda. As I've aged it becomes harder and harder for me to memorize God's Word. Those chapters and verses I memorized in the early years are such a blessing. My parents lived the Scriptures, too, which also kept us in the middle. With our children one gift at Christmas was an age appropriate devotional Bible. My daughter has continued the tradition with her children. I loved peaking in their rooms and seeing them have their own time with God each day.

    ReplyDelete

Let's chat.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...