I’m frustrated. I really am.
One of the hardest things I have found about ministering to families is the fact that they are so busy. Between school, work, sports, music practice, vacations, and other activities, they are rarely to be found. Never have we had so many opportunities to be involved in so much stuff. I can’t say that all this activity is bad thing. As a matter of fact, most people would consider this…normal.
Think about it, when was the last time asked, “So, are you staying busy?” How are you to answer that? You are always inclined to say yes. Why? Because it is expected. People expect themselves and other people to be “busy”. If you were to answer to the contrary, what kind of look would you get? What kind of smart remark would you receive? Would you be perceived as joking or being sarcastic? We certainly need to work hard and make good use of our time, but are we are really called to be busy? Is being busy a true sign of success, health, or normality?
My frustration lies where the hectic pace of life can negatively affect the spiritual growth of the family. Hopefully this doesn’t sound like your family: Me:”Hey, we have missed seeing you at church on Sundays.” Parent:”Oh, yeah, well…as busy as we are, Sundays are the only time we can spend together as a family.” Really? I often heard this and scratched my head. But, it makes sense to me, now. Monday through Friday is filled with school, work, practices, homework, and other valuable activities. Saturday is the day families spend playing all those sports they have practiced for all week, or spending all that money they have earned – which is rarely relaxing zipping through malls and grocery stores, driving in hectic amounts of traffic. Saturdays are project days at our home, while others work on the car, or do a little extra work for the office. Certainly nothing I have mentioned is a problem and is all useful. Then Sunday rolls around and our busy families need a day to recover from the previous week of busy and prepare for the coming week of busy, and it is just to difficult to make it to church.
I know that it sounds like I am complaining, but I am really concerned. Why? Because I have yet to hear people with grown up children say, “Wow, I wish our family had not spent so much time at church.” Or, “If only we had spent more Sundays at home, then our children would really love the Lord.” Nope, haven’t heard it. What I have heard is, “If only we had been more involved in church…” or “We made the mistake of not involving our kids in church, an now…” Do I sound like I am pushing the issue of church involvement? You better believe I am. Is church involvement more important than a relationship with Christ? Nope, but the admonishment to regularly meet in worship is still right here.
God’s word makes it very clear. “And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 HCSV) This is not a statement made to all families in general. It is directed at people who claim to love and fear God. Do you see my frustration? The families that I am struggling to see involved in church are Christian families, the ones that claim they want their children to love and fear God, too. If you know me even just a little, you know that church involvement does not take the place of spiritual leadership at home. As a matter of fact, just because your family attends church every time the doors are open does not guarantee that your family will successfully grow in their relationship with God. It takes both the family and church working together for there to be growth.
I make this statement all the time to my children, “Don’t stop at the problem, tell me the solution.” So, what is the solution? I believe it begins with:
- Make Christ the priority in our families. We spend the most time doing what we love the most. If we love our kids the most, we spend all our time doing things centered around them. If we love our job, we spend extra time doing things for our job. Christ is to be our first love. All other loves before Him is idolatry.
- Be less busy. God has given us all the time we need to accomplish all we need to accomplish. If we run out of time, it is our own fault for misusing it. If busy is normal, than we need to be okay being different, or Craig Groeschel would call it Weird.
- Attend church regularly, more often than Christmas and Easter. Most churches have several services throughout the week. Try to join one consistently. If not church service, at least a church small group who consistently studies God’s Word and offers opportunities to worship and encourage one another.
- Be aware that time is short. You only have a few years with your family together. Time in general is waning. Every moment counts. How will you spend the little amount of time we have been given to grow you and your family closer to God?
Agree or disagree? What some other things families can do to make Christ and regular church involvement priorities? Blessings.
Today I spotlight the National Center for Biblical Parenting. This organization was formed in 1992 and has been providing practical and biblical parenting help ever since. Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller have written numerous books, lead a national seminar, and even provide personalized coaching for parents and their children. The NCBP has even developed Biblical Parenting University, where you can take a series of courses which teach a “heart-based” form of parenting. The NCBP partners with other family focused organizations such as AWANA, International Network of Children’s Ministry, and the Association of Marriage and Family Ministry.
Take time to visit their website and become familiar with the resources available there. Also remember to pray for their ministry as we all work together to minister to children and families.
This past Friday night I had the rare privilege to sit down with Todd Capps, Editorial Project Leader for Worship Kidstyle, the children’s worship curriculum from Lifeway Christian Resources. Admittedly, the conversation was mostly me throwing as many questions as I could at Todd within a one hour time frame. Within the course of conversation, he shared a little of his passion, and frustration, with many church’s attitude about Children’s Worship. He stated that too often Children’s Church or similar programs serve only as a way to remove the distraction of children from the main worship service. In a way, Todd expressed, Children’s Church becomes more like child care or babysitting. No doubt that parents benefit from being able to focus while in congregational worship. Yet, this is low on the list of advantages and priorities of a strong, children’s worship ministry. In my opinion, this is more of a perk than a purpose.
So, what are the guidelines and goals which will turn Sunday morning into worship for kids?
Todd was very gracious in providing me one of his copies of Kids Ministry 101:Practical Answers to Questions About Kids Ministry. This book is a collaboration of entries from experts and equippers within the field of Children’s and Family Ministry. Todd, himself, has an article in which he shares some basic principles about leading children in worship. He notes the following considerations:
- Rely on the Holy Spirit. Listen to God as you plan and lead worship.
- Maintain high expectations of leaders. Leaders will live up to the expectations placed on them.
- Remember the levels of learning of the kids.
- Provide a variety of learning activities.
- Use the Bible and guide kids to use their Bibles.
- Involve the kids.
- Utilize simple vocabulary.
- Select appropriate Bible passages.
- Utilize a variety of teaching methods.
- Provide quality space.
- Realize children’s worship is not baby-sitting. Resist a “let’s take care of the kids while parents attend worship” mentality.
- Realize children’s worship is not a “let’s play big church” time. Children’s worship should be designed as worship on the kids’ levels, not adult worship designed for children to “play church.”
My many thanks goes out to Todd, and the rest of the staff at Lifeway Christian Resources, for taking time to encourage and equip. Also, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Kids Ministry 101:Practical Answers to Questions About Kids Ministry. It is an up-to-date, knowledgeable book which provides a foundation for the church and it’s leadership in the area of Children’s Ministry.