Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Church Lady and Her Un-Churched Kids

While out in blogdom today, many are pondering the really deep meanings of God and the universe (see Brother Maynard’s blog – brilliant stuff) Church Lady here has a simple question:

How do I raise my children outside of the “church?” It has been a few months since we have left and there is not a Sunday School in sight as far as I can tell for a long time to come.

Of course we all know that we (the parents) are responsible for their spiritual training. That was always told to us by our churches. I told this to others – partially to absolve the church when their kids turned out bad. After all, you can only claim responsibility when it looks good for you. When it does not work out to your advantage – bail and let them know it was their responsibility all along.

The only problem I see was that no one ever actually really took responsibility that I know of. We let the Sunday School teachers do their job and “presto” our kids knew all about Jonah and the Whale and Noah and the Arc. (In there was probably some really good spiritual training although, to tell you the truth, I never saw how they could take a story about God wiping out the whole human race – every living thing – and teach it to any child who would not run screaming from the room and never love God again. It worked though if you needed people to be afraid of God to obey him. Hmmmm…….)

Of course Church Lady was always too busy to teach Sunday School. Her gifting was not only not in evangelism but also not in children’s ministry either. There might be something important going on in the service that she would have to help with. Or how could she mentor people the next week without knowing what the Spirit was saying in the service on that previous Sunday. And children seldom knew how important you were. They could not feed that ego in her.

If you were to tell me 4 months ago that my kids would not be going to church during their formative years, I would have thought you had lost your mind. Now I have no idea what to do. It is kind of like wondering if your kids would really be socially hampered if you home schooled. What will un-churched Christian kids look like in 10 years? Will we need to give in and attend a church just for their sakes? I have read on some of your blogs that you have done just that - gone back to church for your kids. How is that working for you?

Meanwhile I need to decide what I will do in the meantime. I never liked the Bible story approach. I think it gives a very disjointed view of the Bible. Maybe I’ll read them the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I liked to use historical fiction to teach history when I home schooled my older kids. It made it more enjoyable for me at least and they seemed to really understand it better. It's too bad that Sponge Bob does not do Bible Studies for kids.

I am understanding now that it is my responsibility. Mostly because there is no passing it off. My mantra that it is the parents’ responsibility has now actually fallen on my shoulders - thus proving that I did not really believe it before.



Marti G said...

I've blogged about this very thing at here and two years ago here.

"...true relationship with our Father and with each other… that all speaks VOLUMES more than any class teaching ever could. And if we’re truly missing it [in not filling the kids' brain with the right religious curriculum], we’re back to Point One… trusting that God is big enough and full of enough grace to reach them in spite of any mistake we make."

Also, if you're of the unschooling inclination, there is a list called UnschoolingGodJourney, specifically to be a place for families who find a deep correlation in their journeys as both homeschooling life learners and followers in the way of Jesus.

Barb said...


Wow, I read both blog entries. I loved the jungle analogy. I’m going to go onto the website when I get a chance. And of course I wanted to see if Wayne at Life Stream had anything on it.

Former Leader

Mary said...

Oooh, thanks for bringing this up. We, too, are facing the task of showing Jesus to our children without the fall back of Sunday School. We've considered going to a church for the kids (something I used to criticize people for doing), but we haven't done it yet. I'm finding that we have to be a lot more aware of verbalizing why we do the things we do - why we pray, why we are kind to people, why we forgive, etc.

Thanks, Malegra, for the links. I've read through them once and need to do it again.

Erin said...

I posted a comment but I think it got eaten when my browser crashed. I've I've doubled up just delete one of me.

What I was going to say is that we are over two years now unchurched and our kids are doing fine. They are 11 and 7.

We simply look for opportunities - not in the Heritage Builders sense and not in the "Now would be a good time for Jonah and the whale" sense, but just listening to our kids and to the Spirit and making the connections for them.

My $.02

Alan Knox said...

If I can add something late to this discussion... I think your children - and all children - need something that's much more important than Bible stories, formal Bible studies, Bible centered games, etc. They need an example - an example of what it means to walk with Christ, day in and day out, good times and bad times. They need an example of what it means to trust God when you don't understand what is going on. They need an example of neighbor-love, especially towards those neighbors who are un-lovely. Perhaps your children do not sit in a "Sunday School" room one hour per week. But, they learn from you constantly. And, they will remember your example much longer than they will remember any formal teaching. (see Hebrews 11)


Anonymous said...

Hey,(post this or not, I doesn't matter to me)
I know some things that all of your kids are absolutely sure of, even the young ones. They know that they are special. They know that they have destiny on their lives. They know how to hear the Holy Spirit. They know that the Lord will always be with them.They know how to pray. They know that Jesus is the answer. And they know that they are loved.
I don't see the problem. Relax, Church Lady. He is in control.

I love You,
Best Friend

Anonymous said...

As one with four sons, the oldest 25, the youngest 14, who have spent most of their young lives in Sunday School I would say that it is overrated. My youngest two no longer have any desire to go because it does not provide the spiritual nourishment they need. Just having head knowledge is not the solution, although reading and understanding what God is trying to convey through the Bible is important. But as one of your commenters has already said seeing the truths of Scripture lived out each day by parents and the rest of the community you are in will be just as important in their formation.

We are now outside the institution and our sons are developing more quickly and deeper spiritual understanding through the spiritual conversations that our community of followers of Jesus have when we are together.

Does it mean you will need to be sensitive to spiritual issues and teaching in your children's lives? Absolutely yes! But whether they were in an institutional setting or not this would be true. I am more and more convinced we rely on the structures of humans instead of the wind of the Spirit for our learning. May God grant us the freedom to blow with the Spirit in all things.

Anonymous said...

Leader, we've actually talked a fair bit about kids on my blog as well... not just cerebral stuff ;^)

Personally I think some of the best stuff was on kids and communion and the Easter stuff we did with our kids. One of the earlier things we came to grips with is that dumping the kids off in Sunday School and thinking we'd done our job is really an abdication of our responsibility.

Doesn't make it any easier, but istm that talking about matters of faith mixed in with daily life is the best approach, rather than trying to pigeon-hole the "most important" lessons into a single hour each week. Talk about it when you're going out or coming in or walking on the road... Teach them to ask questions, and then make an effort to explain more than what they've asked about, giving context so they see how it all fits together.

Not that I actually know anything about all this, I'm as lost as the next guy.

Barb said...

Thank you all for your comments. This is stuff you "know" but really don't. I realize that my life teaches my children yet it is so scary to go outside the normal christian systems. It was just a few months ago that I judged this behavior as decieved and dangerous. Maybe after I have detoxed a bit more it will not seem as crazy.

You all make the journey so much easier.

Barb said...

Brother Maynard,

Thanks for all the links, I have some reading to do.