Hope for Kids in the Church

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I recently became a blogger for Momentum – The official (note, this is not the unofficial but official!) blog of YALT (Young Adult Leadership Task Force) of the Christian Reformed Church (which is my denomination by choice not by birth).  Although it would be easy to question my “young adult” status we figured I’m young-at-heart and I am passionate about issues that YALT addresses. Speaking of status, it would be easy to question my CRC status as I’m not Dutch and I’m writing for the such blogs.  However, I’m thankful they will have me!

Here is my second post:

I often worry about raising kids in the church.  Sometimes I can’t even believe I will have kids that say “Yeah, I’ve been going to church my whole life.” Really? I did that?  It’s not our particular church that I’m worried about; people at church really love our kids. I mean really love them. Friends offer to babysit for free (ok maybe that is loving my husband and I, but still!). One person brought them cool gifts like real industrial knee pads and brand new snow boots that didn’t fit their grandchild. At coffee time after church, my kids learn how to do fist pumps and high fives. A few neighbours from church play hockey with our kids (and our neighbor’s kids) when we are sick of doing it. My kids learn lessons in Sunday school about justice and generosity.  They also learn that God loves little tiny babies because they are invited on stage to watch when the babies are baptized.

Yet sometimes I worry because I hear so much about people who “grew up in the church.” Kids who felt forced to go to church every week; kids who were never told about other ‘options.’  There are kids who feel like their faith only exists because that is how they were raised. I also worry because I didn’t grow up there. I worry because I don’t know exactly what it should look like. I’m sure there are many parents who were raised in the church and still ask that question. I know, none of us are perfect but what should it look like? What do I want my kids to really know about my Christian faith? My prayer for them reminds me of this profound quote by Rob Bell, “My wife, Kristen, and I often talk about raising our kids in such a way that they have as little as possible to unlearn later on in life.”

Sometimes I envision them having conversations with new friends in the cafeteria at the small private liberal arts college they some how chose even though we couldn’t afford it (scholarship?). I imagine them reflecting on their childhood and saying things like this:

“My parents always told me that Jesus loves me no matter what – they were kind of annoying how much they said this.”

“I’ve always known what Jesus really wants from me is to love him and to love my neighbours. I grew up always knowing my neighbours and they are easy to love.”

“They definitely showed me that knowing Jesus doesn’t make our life perfect. We still road the struggle bus from time to time.”

“I know that Jesus loves the world but doesn’t love the way things go down a lot of the time. My parents were often talking about other parts of the world.  We used to light a candle before dinner and say what we were thankful for and why. And then when we blew it out we would share something we wanted to see change in the world.  We did eventually do a bit more praying together but the candle never changed.”

 What do you hope for your kids in the Church?