I've found myself wrestling with an issue I've seen other parents wrestle with throughout my 13 years in youth ministry. I now have three kids and the two oldest are getting more and more active in extra-curricular activities. Each week we have violin, travel basketball, baseball, dance, and beta club activities to fit in between work, school, chores, family time and ... wait.. what did I forget? Oh yeah... church!
As a family we have to make tough decisions between activities we love and worshiping/learning about a God that we love above all else. Stating it that way doesn't make it sound like such a tough decision. The God who created everything wants a relationship with us. Part of that relationship is experienced through worship and study done at church. A relationship with the Creator versus recreational baseball should be an easy choice.
But it isn't.
Our kids love these things because we encourage them. We take them to practice. We listen to them play. We cheer them on at games. We get them flowers after a performance. We invite family and friends to watch these events as well. And all of that attention, time and energy makes it difficult for us to choose church over these activities.
But do we take them to church? Do we listen to their questions about God? Do we cheer them on as they do works of mercy? Do we encourage them when they reach spiritual milestones? Do we invite our friends and family on a faith journey with us?
That is the goal, correct? A faith journey routed in a belief in Jesus. Yet we don't take the time to nurture the relationship with Jesus or the journey with our children.
I often get the question about a child's future in the real world (as if the real world and church cannot intersect). My response is always this: In order for your child to be the person that God calls him or her to be, your child must first know who God is. The odds of becoming a famous musician or professional athlete are astronomical but the odds of God loving you are 1:1. Do the math. Go for the win. Then go for the dream.
My kids have missed church a few times this year for extra-curricular activities. The good news is that God still loves them (and their parents) even when they aren't at church. My hope is that I can remember my own advice and give them as many chances as possible to develop a relationship with God.
Until Everyone Hears,