Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Making Disciples of our Children

This week I am discussing the second part of our new congregational Mission Statement, Serving Christ, Making Disciples. Disciple making is what Jesus tells us to do in the Great Commission. We do that through baptism and through teaching them what Jesus has taught us. For most of us we think about making disciples by going out and doing it with individuals we call ‘strangers.’ Yet I believe one of the most important, vital, and hardest jobs we have is making disciples of our children.

You are not born a Christian. It is a choice that everyone makes some time in our lives. Being born of Christian parents does not equal you being a Christian. This means that as Christian parents we have to do a better job raising our children to be Christians. This means we have to show them that a life with Christ is the most important thing in our personal lives and make their Christian formation a priority.

That is something young parents are having a hard time dealing with in my community. (WARNING, I JUST STEPPED UP ON MY SOAP BOX) In my last post I mentioned that only 15% of the people within a mile from Trinity think that attending worship is important. I would like to suggest that many of those 85% are also have a membership in one of the 5-7 churches within that mile radius too. The thing is church is not a priority.

Parents in this community are committed and loving but just not to church. I have at least three families who are gone almost all spring because of travel baseball. Their 7-9 year old sons play in baseball tournaments all over NC. These are weekend long (Friday-Sunday) tournaments. I have other families who are committed to dance and travel dance competitions and recitals during the spring as well (gone 5 weekends out of two months). I have other parents who say they just can’t get up in time for church. We only have one service and it is at 11:00 am!

I am not against having kids play in sports or extracurricular activities. I cannot wait to be on the field watching my son and daughter play sports. The thing is on Sunday morning there is only one place they will be, church. When we choose sports over church we are teaching our children that church is something you do when there isn’t something better to do. We are then raising athletes instead of Christians. We aren’t involved in disciple making.

I have had grandparents complain that “sports on Sunday just didn’t happen when we were raising our kids.” Yes, it is a cultural change to have sports programs setting up games on Sunday morning but here is the thing. If the parents thought church was so important that they didn’t allow their kids to play on Sunday morning and all of a sudden half the team wasn't there on Sunday morning…maybe they would switch their schedules around? Yet when the parents show up (on time of course even if it is early in the morning…another soapbox post for later) and the grandparents show up to watch…we are simply giving them permission to continue with the schedule making.

It would be hard for a grandparent to look their grandchild in the eye and say, “I’m sorry I’m going to miss your game but I have to go to church. I think being in church is that important. I love you and I’ll be here for your afternoon game.” If we are going to make disciples of our children, we have to demonstrate how it is done by living it out in our own lives and making it a priority. When my son and daughter are 25, will they be better people because they were on a ball field 5-6 nights a week when they were 9 or because they were in church and learning about how to have a deeper relationship with God? (Stepped off my soapbox)


B Smith said...

I agree wholeheartedly with you Jim. There is no problem with little league per se, but when parents are more enthused with baseball than Church the Church doesn't stand a chance. I wrote on something similar on my blog.

Allan R. Bevere said...


A great post. I love your last paragraph.