Sunday, October 14, 2012

day 14 {guest post} church: the missing element for spiritual growth

It's been so exciting for me to have my husband share from a dad's perspective on this topic of spiritually training and investing in our young kids. This important job of purposeful parenting should be a team effort and we want to continue discussing this aspect today! This is his final post here on my Teaching Toddlers Theology series, and I'm so grateful for his contributions!
Here's my sweet hubby, Tim:

I have a special heart for the church. God has called me into full-time pastoral ministry. I eat, sleep, and drink church and I love it. It has its quirks, hypocrites, and struggles, but it is God’s creation and it’s how he works in our world today. When Jesus said that he would, “Build his church,” he wasn’t messing around. Church is not an opiate for the masses or something silly and outdated that we cling to for comfort and safety. It is the body of Christ in this world. It is a center for spreading the Gospel and making disciples of Christ Jesus. It as Paul would say, it's “From Him, through Him, and to Him.”

Dads and moms that want to teach their kids to love God, learn theology, and live faithfully must also teach their kids to love and value church. Why? Because God made the church for the building and strengthening of Christ followers. Of all the things that parents can do to raise their kids to fear and obey God, church is the best of all them. I’m not saying that once a week at church is better than lifestyle parenting or that it replaces your responsibility to work them through the week. What I’m saying is that if you want all of your daily work to have its best effect, then church needs to be a necessary part of your teaching/training paradigm.

Don’t believe me? Let’s just think about what happens at church:
  1. Multiple generations of believers coming together in unity of Spirit to praise God, learn from God, and fellowship together. 

  2. Kids get to learn with other kids on their learning level with passionate teachers that aren’t usually their mom or dad. They get to learn of the great foundations of the faith, the most-loved stories of Scripture, and the Gospel on a weekly basis. 

  3. Kids get to make crafts and eat snacks that relate to the stories and principles of Scripture. You cannot put too high of a value on hands-on-learning for kids. Skeptical, I have two words for you: Play-Dough. Kids learn by using their hands and getting engaged in their stories. 

  4. Kids see people of all ages excited about the things of God. They see people carrying their Bibles, hugging each other, helping the elderly, singing together, and people getting baptized. 

  5. Kids get a chance to serve with others according to God has wired them. With the broad variety of options, they can find their passions and then use them to benefit the whole body. They get a chance to find meaning in what they do and develop skills that will last a lifetime. 

I could go on, but I think that you get the point. The question is not, “Is there value in it” or “Is it profitable?” The question is, “Will we make it a priority for our family?” I think that the choice to get in church starts with dads. If they are not excited and passionate about church, the family will have a hard time in keeping it a priority. Kids are smart and if dad isn’t coming to church, or he comes with a grudge and refuses to sing and serve, they kids will start to ask why. Kids mirror us in almost all of life. If you rout loud and strong for college football (like I do) your kids will to. One of Titus’ first words was "touchdown". What we model, our kids will follow. If this is the case, how much more will that be the case with church?

Churches are never perfect and that’s because they are full of imperfect sinners just like you and me, but do not miss the fact that God made the church. God sustains the church. God enables the spiritual growth of those who attend church. God will bless you and your kids if you make it a priority and invest yourselves in it. You need church and there is no way around that truth if you take a serious look at Scripture. Private spirituality is part of following Christ but the paradigm in Scripture is that growth always happens in the context of the local gathered and recognized assembly, the church. Don't undermine or under-emphasize God's plan for your growth and your kids. Direct and blunt? Yeah, but it's the truth.

The Lord reigns forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He rules the world in righteousness and judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. 
                                                                                                               --- Psalm 9:7-10

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This is Day 14 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post.

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