Jesus' Precious Little Lambs

A Charlotte Mason Christian Home School: Preschool – 2nd Grade :)

Keeping Children in “Big” Church

on October 19, 2014

Since I am largely speaking to other Christian homeschooling families here, I think we can agree that training up our own children, as the Bible admonishes, is very important, and a big reason why many of us decided to homeschool. Delegating the responsibility to someone else in a school system of age segregated classrooms to educate our children started to feel wrong at some point, and so we decided it was time to take our rightful authority back and keep our kids under our own careful training. In the same way, our family feels called to train up our own children in the Christian faith in an equally passionate and parentally responsible manner. Just like we do not want to delegate our children’s education, we do not want to delegate their spiritual training either, and especially not on Sundays!

Now days many Christian parents send their children off to Sunday school, children’s church, or various children’s bible clubs. As long as parents are using it as supplemental, rather than delegated Biblical training, its not wrong. However, “sending off” is so normal these days, we hardly think twice about it, but every little bit that we do, eats away at our time to “walk along side” and disciple our own kids. Every time well meaning friends and family encourage my husband and I to think about deviating from our choice, we are given another opportunity to reassess our family core values, and reexamine where we stand. Today’s post is one such reexamination. Although the discussions can sometimes cause a brief unsettling about our convictions, we pray, and hearts settle on the wisdom of Deuternomy 6:6-7, which says to teach Gods words to our children when we sit, walk, lie down, or stand up. Those verses, and other scriptures, keep drawing us back to our original family convictions, and challenge us to continue to fully practice a “walking along side” type of parenting, rather than a “sending off” type of parenting. So really we have you to thank, loved ones, for helping us strengthen our conviction muscles.

When my sister Tara came to visit recently, I experienced one of those well meaning, friendly attempts to help me see the light. 🙂 I thought that she made a lot of good points that many of you who send your children to children’s church would probably amen.  Since its an interesting topic of discussion amongst Christians, and particularly Christian homeschoolers, I asked Tara for permission to share our conversation. We started our debate at a restaurant, and then continued it by texting each other as follows:

Tara: I just wanted to say that I really do appreciate your family together perspective. I was trying to present the aspect of what their age level actually understands. But if you guys feel like its more important to have a level way above them than one you think is way below them, then obviously that’s your decision. No hard feelings from me. : )

Lynn: You are a hard sell. : ) I already poured all my blood sweat and tears on these issues on my blog where its a lot safer–safer cause people can read it if they want or not and I don’t have to defend myself. : ) If you do decide to read and watch my stuff, I would feel honored, and it would be great to continue the conversation–or debate. 😉 No hard feelings–however, we should probably chill out a bit because we are a little intense for other parties listening.

I guess we talked a lot about “level”, but maybe I should say that level is the lesser reason to keep my kids in main service. Its more about the work of the Holy Spirit. Anyone can glean from where the Spirit is moving–whether special needs, low or high intelligence, young, old, etc. You know how everyone hears something different from the same message because the HS speaks to us all according to what we need at that time? He makes one simple message so dynamic and applicable to everyones life. I think He does the same for children who are taught to be listening. I want my children in service where they are directly under our discipling to “listen” when it matters most since church is key spiritual training ground in our lives (not a time for delegation in our fam), and the main service has the fresh life and movement of HS every Sunday for that to occur regularly. That’s why I was saying that everyone is “made in the image of God” at the restaurant, everyone is made to hear God, and even just understanding/revelation on one word can be enough to sustain or change or grow our kids if its delivered by the HS.

Plus, no one can refute our family leading by God, and I think you wisely understand that. There have been too many things that have pointed us in this direction to go the other way now…..from books, to articles, to movies, to timely Bible study with the kids (like how our fam devotions before church this morning totally coincided with the message given today). We would be foolish to ignore what seems to be a path made obvious for us. If our same leadings haven’t come up for you, then maybe you don’t need to do what we do….Well, unless this is the inkling of a new beginning…….. : )

Tara: I guess I just don’t see why you think that the main service is the only place where the Holy Spirit can move or the only place that has “the fresh life and movement” of the Spirit. You, as an adult, may personally feel that it ministers to you in a “more effective” or powerful way. but that shouldn’t preclude you from thinking that the Holy Spirit can also be present in kid’s church or there be an anointing on someone other than the head guy. As if he is bound only to the main sanctuary or one  man. I feel like you shouldn’t underestimate his power to minister to your kids in an impactful way that might always remember. True, he can minister one word that might change their lives during a service thats way over their heads or they can learn that God can be a God of fun and fellowship even at their little level. Or take away a phrase from children’s church that might change their whole course. I certainly see the value of kids being together with families for worship, but I just don’t think they have to sit bored week after week to maybe catch something in their spirit…….Because they are definitely not catching anything substantial in their intellect. Again, if thats what you both prefer and you just want to be together, than I pray the Lord honors your request in the way you want it.

I am a tough sell too. 🙂 I personally remember really enjoying big church worship, but the sermons that I have carried with me were ones that came from teachers who had dedicated their lives to my age group. The rest was full of words and concepts that were just too complex for e to even process. I don’t know why you want them to matureway beyond where they are at anyway. But as you say, you feel like they will gain a greater spiritual maturity so maybe so. : )

Lynn: Yah I guess I think of CC as generally a trickle compared to a gushing waterfall of the Spirit after being in so many kids classes with constant turnover of workers and people who were not HS led or barely wanted to be there. Sad, but true in children’s ministry everywhere. They end up in something like child care and even watching TV or just playing. There are certainly some really good dedicated teachers or children’s pastors out there, but still their heart for their class can never compare to the heart of a child’s own parent and what he or she can pass down as spiritual heritage. The adult service we sat in as kids–ok, everybody was lost and dying on the vine (dry sermons!). Also, our parents expectations and involvement or training was way different than my fam. Our church has awesome speakers and we are really trying to disciple. Close discipleship is probably the main indicator of enjoyment/accessibility/success in my opinion.

I would die on the vine if I had the amount of HS flow that kids classes have, so how can I expect it to minister to my kids? I dare say that I would endanger their growth. They don’t need a small Holy Spirit just because they are small, they need a full open heaven torrent that descends in both worship, during the Word, and especially at the end of a service at alter call (a call for change and prayer). Wouldn’t want them to miss out on any of those 3 unique outflows. (However, if its a church where the Holy Spirit doesn’t move much then my argument holds little applicability)

Tara: Well, for sure all kids’ programs are not created equal. Not sure what was happening in the larger class they wanted Roman in–looked like more plan, passion, and agenda, but if you do ever speak up for/try to influence your own churches little kid classes, they need help. Roman said they only sang one song, prayed only for the snack, there was no real story time, just something he already knew about the lost sheep, and they watched some Christian video twice and then some Clifford video too. Thats just babysitting and makes me feel really sad for the kids involved there. Sounds like a mission for Lynn!!! 🙂

Lynn: Hee hee, yah except it goes against my philosophical viewpoint that parents need to teach their own kids and that families are better off together in service.

So Romans class is just one of many examples of churches ministering lower than what children need. I have seen it over and over again. I hope your church is truly much better. yes, the older lass may be better, but probably still lower than what kids that age could be doing. Roman’s class is pretty typical at churches for that age range, and I wholeheartedly disagree with their approach because children are capable of much more!! However, only with proper parental daily input! However, I must say that Roman’s class actually does minister to kids in a family where the parents are not training up in a Deuteronomy 6:7 way. There are kids who wouldn’t be able to receive if more was expected, but the majority of CC classes don’t work well for a family obeying Duet. 6:7. Our kids will always be in a much different place than the general group of kids whose parents both work and don’t have a full life discipleship model. Sunday school was actually invented for poor children who couldn’t read because they worked 12 hour days in factories. Today children’s classes are still designed to best reach and minister to kids whose parents can’t/won’t/don’t teach their kids or just teach a little. I am not trying to exalt our family, and I really hope I don’t sound arrogant…….some parents really are doing all they can……the reality is any parent who is committed to spending every waking moment training up his/her kids as many Christian homeschoolers have chosen to, the kids will be misfits in typical Christian society (in a good way). Noah is already so different than his peers at age 5 and I expect the gap will only increase as there is no turning back for us. He probably knows what I knew Biblically at like age 11 (me being a typical girl from Christian society).

Tara: Still, your church could benefit from some feedback, because yes, we have a much richer curriculum for even younger ages. I mean seriously? 3 movies? We don’t ever watch movies there. Thats just lazy to me. A once in awhile special experience maybe, but otherwise it just comes across as you aren’t prepared or aren’t equipped.

Lynn: Could have been just one of those days, ya know? Somebody new trying to get by…….or not. The thing is, CC so depends on who is teaching, and its so often in the hands of good hearted but incompetent or undependable volunteers and training system. and quality can change at any time without parents being aware. Parents are largely unaware of what happens back there at all, stranger still is that they are ok with that. What if selecting random volunteers was how we taught adults in main service? Yikes.

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So I think Tara’s thumbs gave out at that point or we moved onto other subjects…………..Well, as you probably guessed, I do have a little more to say.

Children complete the worship community, and to me, are key elements in creating a balance in the meeting place. The gathering is a less dynamic experience when children are sent away. Dear Parents with Young Children in Church is an encouraging article that a friend shared with me about the arduous task of training young ones in church, yet the outcome of building true community is worth it. Divided: Is Age-Segregated Ministry Multiplying or Dividing the Church? is a documentary I strongly suggest for every Christian mom and dad to watch together. The premise of Divided, well received by some and not by others, is that youth ministry and children’s age grouped classes are a “50-year failed experiment,” because dividing children from adults at church is an unBiblical concept borrowed from humanistic philosophies. The movie asserts that the church has drifted away from scripture, away from the established pattern of biblical church life, and toward modern culture for her answers. It is awesome. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it.

Children also really need to feel like they are a welcome part of the worship community. Studies have shown that when we constantly alienate our children and teens, separating them from the rest of the body, that once they leave the youth ministry, they aren’t sure where they belong. (They have never really made a connection with any one in the body of Christ that is older other than their youth pastor, but their youth pastor is now telling they are no long a teen and they don’t belong in the youth group but they never felt like a part of “big people church”) And when kids are so used to church being about entertainment–skits, puppet shows, snack, play time, games, etc–its no wonder that by the time they are teens and expected to join in service, they decide that “church” is boring. As much as parents tend to think so, church is not about entertainment, even for kids. Its about much much deeper things that will seem very foreign to a child who has not learned to become a part of the “adult” worship service.

A book I would like to read, Family Driven Faith, explains how our children are falling away from the faith because we are asking the church to do what God designed the family to accomplish. At one time Christian worship, teaching, & ministry was primarily a function of the family. It was considered normal for families to sing hymns together daily, for the father to systematically teach the Bible daily, to pray daily, for the family to look for ways to minister and reach out to others. This is how I pray that God will build and restore our families!! When families are strengthened and restored to function as God intended, all the age segregated ministries that churches offer becomes a pale substitute for the dynamic nature of family driven faith, and therefore largely unnecessary and irrelevant in the lives of such families. Family is the only institution mentioned by scripture for the spiritual training up of children (not church, nor government). The benefits of attending Christian activities will never compare to the life transformation that occurs while children watch, listen, and learn from their parents relationship with God.

For us, including our kids in church is a huge part of their training and discipleship, and discipleship is one of our three important Cravalho Family Core Values. I want them to hear the full weight of the gospel. It may be hard to understand at times, but that just gives us more opportunities for follow up with discussion and discipleship at home. I am humbled and shocked to find what has entered the heart of my oldest already through his ability to just sit and listen. When the whole counsel of God is going into a child, it may not be fully understood at the time, but its in there, and the Holy Spirit will cause it to resurface at a needed time in the future. Also, I couldn’t send off my children into classes to be with teachers and people I don’t know very well. They are my most precious treasures, and we guard their hearts and minds, and whoever speaks into them, with fiercely protective love. As our children walk along side us, we are right there when they are engaged in conversation by anyone in our church family, or held in the arms of a trusted friend within the sanctuary. Discipleship by nature means keeping close, and discipleship of young ones means keeping them very close.

Making family beautiful is another one of our core values. Building family relationships is our priority, and we view being together in church a key time for that to happen! I love when I find my 5 year old Noah’s wrapped arms around my shoulders through a worship song as he stands on the chair behind me praising God with me, or when I worship face to face with my little 3 year old Faith held close in my arms, or seeing our 1 year old Daniel raise his arms in praise because he sees mommy or daddy doing it. I wouldn’t trade those beautiful experiences of family worship for anything.

Keeping our children in church also provides a preferable socialization experience. That sounds backwards, but yes, I meant to say that children’s church is the less preferable social experience. By letting our children be surrounded and immersed in the company of mature , Godly, wise examples, we believe that that is who our children will become also. We can give them healthy intergenerational learning experiences on Sundays by including them in the worship community. On the other hand, the Bible says if we make our kids the companion of fools, they will be destroyed (remember “foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child,” and yes, foolish company abounds in any children’s class). We parents sure do love for our kids to have “friendships,” and we count on church classes to provide them in plenty. However, reading Hold Onto Your Kids will forever help me to keep the perspective that kids don’t need friends like we think they do. The very concept of friendship is meaningless when applied to immature people. A true friend is considerate, acknowledges our boundaries, respects us as individuals, supports our growth and development. Does this sound like many of the kids you know? No, the capacity for true social integration comes with maturity and individuality. So our time is more wisely spent cultivating worthwhile relationships with the adults in our child’s life/church, than pursuing “friends” for our child.

Finally, its ok to be different! In fact, it may even be beneficial! I believe the “abnormal” decision to keep our children in church, which requires extreme patience with our babies as they mature into children who can sit quietly and actually receive something from a sermon, is definitely taking the harder more untraveled road. Yet, we know that whenever we take the normal path in life, we can often expect normal results. However, if we bravely live outside the ordinary, we may just find the extraordinary!

May we raise extraordinary children for the glory of God!

From my post Teaching Children the Bible:

(Info from inrich.org that I find very interesting)

  1. Age graded programs are unwise, unnecessary and largely unproductive. Segregating and separating children is both unbiblical and unnatural. When families are referred to in the Scripture, the children are included in the family worship, never otherwise. The secular society has tried to keep kids from their parents. The public education system was influenced heavily by G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, G.F. Hegel and Rosseau who advocated isolating children from their parents. This has been one of the fundamental problems of the public schools. But these secular ideals must be recognized and resisted on the basis of clear Scriptural teaching on how to raise children. The church needs to strongly resist the anti-christian culture that purposefully or unconsciously attacks the family and biblical values.
  2. The church should lift the standard for both parents and children. Some parents will be “uncomfortable” with the challenge to train their children to listen, to follow through at home (and be held accountable for it!), or with strong preaching on the Scriptural admonitions. We should have high expectations for our children, giving them something to reach for–demonstrating our confidence in their ability to relate to adults and to learn at a higher level.
  3. Intergenerational activities (classes, programs, special events) provide an opportunity for individuals to relate to others of all ages in the natural way they are placed by God in society (church and family) instead of in the unnatural and negative peer structure. These cross-generational groups also furnish ample occasion for the church to follow God’s plan for older women to instruct younger women, for older men to instruct younger men, and for parents to train their children, etc.
  4. Children need to see their parents worshiping God and responding to His Word (preaching and teaching); children worshiped with their parents in the Bible record and this was part of the educational (learning to fear and trust God) experience. Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78 state the principles; examples are seen in Deut. 31:10-13, 2 Kings 23:1-3, Neh. 12:43.
  5. Sunday School was not formed originally as a biblically-based and balanced approach to discipleship. In some ways the pattern of the first Sunday Schools would be akin to government subsidized busing “ministries.” In relation to traditional Sunday Schools in most evangelical churches today, one must be careful to evaluate all discipleship programs in light of the core values of the local church. In other words, are we adding more classes or programs because people want something more to do or desire to acquire more information? The questions to ask in reference to the core values is: “what ministry ‘programs’ will have the greatest influence in making mature followers of Christ and thus accomplish our God-given vision for this church?”
  6. The local church needs to be more than “family friendly.” The philosophy of ministry, because of God’s plan for the family, needs to be decidedly based on building family values since that is clearly God’s plan and since strong families are a major component in producing healthy churches.
  7. Having the family-based church leads to effective and fruitful ministries that come naturally from the healthy family. For example, instead of creating artificial or contrived ministry programs, the family – in the context of their relationship to the local church – reaches out to the lost, embraces the “foreigner” (single parent, single adult, church visitor, unsaved individual, etc.), “adopts” newcomers, practices hospitality, and serves together. “HOME” groups can also be structured to include family groups, instead of creating another night out away from family members. The family learns a missionary mentality.
  8. Sundays need to be a family-together experience. Families are already fragmented excessively in American culture. We already spoke of the contrast between “sending away” and “walking along side” in parental education. Deut. 6:6-7 can be experienced on Sunday mornings. Churches can bear the “inconvenience” of having children learn to sit and worship with their parents, giving their parents the opportunity to train (and be with) their kids. See Exodus 10:8-10; Deut. 29:10-13; Psalm 78:1-4 for additional examples of all ages together in corporate worship. Child training can happen on Sundays.

 

Last Summer Memory spent at Hartland Christian Camp was a wonderful experience

Last Summer Memory spent at Hartland Christian Camp–a wonderful experience!

First Day Giggles

First Day Giggles

Ice Cream to Celebrate our First Day of School!

Ice Cream to Celebrate our First Day of School!

Back to School Snacks have been extra special for Faith's sake, my snack time lover

Back to School Snacks have been extra special for Faith’s sake, my snack time lover

Our new I Can Serve Board tells kids what they can help out with everyday

Our new I Can Serve Board tells kids what they can help out with everyday

Noah Doing Observe and Serve before School

Noah Doing Observe and Serve before School

Sketching a Crepe Myrtle tree in our nature journals was a beautiful moment

Sketching a Crepe Myrtle tree in our nature journals was a beautiful moment

Our little teepee covered in bird house gourd vines

Our little teepee covered in bird house gourds

Writing my name for the first time

Writing my name for the first time

Elated over Word Building

Elated over Word Building

Daniel's 1st Birthday and Baby Dedication

Daniel’s 1st Birthday and Baby Dedication

Took my Sweetie to a Tea House

Took my Sweetie to a Tea House

Morning lessons

Morning lessons

 

Faith draws Roman soldiers or Jesus in Mary's belly in her nature journal

Faith draws Roman soldiers or Jesus in Mary’s belly in her nature journal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look at me, no hands!

Look at me, no hands!

IMG_0273

My Nature Journal

IMG_0301

Noah’s Nature Journal

IMG_0286

Noah Found Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating our Parsley

Noah Found Swallowtail Caterpillar Eating our Parsley

Our Caterpillar Hung in this position all day before turning into a chrysalis overnight

Our Caterpillar Hung in this position all day before turning into a chrysalis overnight

Faith's pattern work

Faith’s pattern work

The Kids Love to Bring Surprise Sharing to School

The Kids Love to Bring Surprise Sharing to School

 

Noah Making Combinations of 8

Noah Making Combinations of 8

Apple Hill

Apple Hill

So Fun to Pick Apples in the Orchards

So Fun to Pick Apples in the Orchards

Little Boy was Quick to Notice our First Lemons. Captivating!

Little Boy was Quick to Notice our First Lemons. Captivating!

Tayler Joins us for a Fun Apple Lesson

Tayler Joins us for a Fun Apple Lesson

My Math Story

My Math Story

Learning to Trust

Learning to Trust

We can swim!

We can swim!

Fun with Our Swim Teacher Miss Hillary

Fun with Our Swim Teacher Miss Hillary

Handsome Hero

Handsome Hero

Blasting Off to Space in our Rocket

Blasting Off to Space in our Rocket

True Heroism in Action

True Heroism in Action

Future Mommy

Future Mommy

Imaginary play is alive in our “ship” tree

Proud of my Little Man Wanting to Carry our Stuff

Proud of my Little Man Wanting to Carry our Stuff

Found an Old Friend at the Nature Park

Found an Old Friend at the Nature Park

Love our Cactuses in the Desert Paintings

Love our “Cactuses in the Desert” Paintings

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Faith’s self portrait and first time writing her name

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Noah’s Bible narration illustration

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Noah’s self portrait (belly button, but no arms!)

Tea Invitation for Doris

Tea Invitation for Doris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Digging for Sweet Potatoes

Digging for Sweet Potatoes

Tea TIme with Doris is a Lesson in Social Skills

Tea TIme with Doris is a Lesson in Social Skills

Lego Creations are Starting to be Creative

Lego Creations are Starting to be Creative

Sweet Lambs

Sweet Lambs

Fall Trees Nature Study

Fall Trees Nature Study


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