Wednesday, September 5, 2007

"Raised in the Church"

Words are so odd to me right now - especially religious words. Words that just a few months ago flowed from my lips without a thought. Now, as I read them in a whole new light, I find my mind tripping over them.

Some of you read my words on prayer. Religious words, words full of theology – maybe good or maybe bad. Vague words. Church Lady words. Words from books. Words from someone else. Words that make you part of a club. Words that mean something to a very few of our population. Words that need an interpreter if you talk to someone outside of the “church”.

Another one hit me today as I read it. They said, “I was raised in the Church.” When they say it you can hear the capital “C”. Now we know they were not raised in the building – although many of us felt like we were with all the endless meetings. I know I grew up with Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and then of course when old enough for youth group meetings we were together at least one or two other nights. Before we were old enough for youth group there were the choir practices that we had to sit in the hard pews on a Thursday night for what seemed hours. Hmmm....maybe I was raised in the Church.

But this is not what people mean when they say that phrase. They are not talking about the actual time spent. They are talking about being raised in Christianity. With Christian teachings, Christian friends, Christian theology, Christian lives, Christian buildings. Christian leaders, Christian meetings, Christian rules, Christian pastimes, Christian schools……..But they do not say they were raised in Jesus. Or in a relationship with any sort of a Heavenly Father. It is not about relationship. It is an institution.

Now my children are not being raised “in the Church” like their older siblings. This makes me ask what are they being raised in? I wonder how they will speak of this “raising” that we are doing now.

If I could help them with the words, I would hope they could say when they are grown, “I was raised loving God.” Or, I was raised as a Christian - but not like you think.” Or, “I was raised in a Jesus follower kind of way.” I wonder what they will say. I definitely don’t think they will say they were “raised in the Church.” And today, at least, that does not bother me.


Erin said...


Both my husband and I are those of which you speak "raised in the church" (I guess as opposed to being raised in a barn or something). And now out kids are being raised in loving Jesus and loving others.

Sarah said...

I've wondered the same thing about my daughter (and future kids). It's exciting to me! I had it better than my mom (a first generation Christian) who came out of a heavy-shepharding church in the late 1980's. And my daughter will have it better growing up in the current work God is doing restoring what it means to BE church rather than go to church. With each generation, the blessing increases as those in the previous generation defeat more giants and gain new ground...

Alan Knox said...

I'm hoping that our children will recognize that they are being raised by the church or with the church - maturing along with their brothers and sisters in Christ.


Barb said...

Erin, Just as long as my kids don't refer to this time as being raised by a crazy lady. Oh, wait...they already do that now. ;0

Sarah, It will be interesting to see how this life of church is done with small children. The IC is so easy. It is all there for you. Relational church can be much harder when it invoves dinner with a toddler ;). I have been reading you site and have enjoyed your writings. I especially loved the idea of not being a victim in all of this. I've been concerned about that aspect of it. Can't say I love the overcomer word much but that probably has to do with past "name-it-claim-it" kind of stuff.
Anway, thanks for commenting.

Barb said...

I liked those the best! What a big change in thought can be made by such a little word.

I was raised by the church. Or, I was raised with the church. I like it!

Sarah said...

Thanks for coming by my blog, Barb. I totally understand your aversion to the word "overcomer" since it is among those words that have been terribly misconstrued. There's so much triumphalism, and I definately wasn't trying to communicate in that vein. Yes, I think you are right about the challenge of incorporating children. And yet, I prefer them around and with us adults as opposed to being carted off and segregated into some craft-happy preschool, er, Sunday school. That's actually one of my issues with institutional church (the segregation of little ones, so that we can have a nice, clean, quiet "worship service")... Kids add a crazy, unpredictable element that I don't want to live without (although it does test the limits of my psychological health at times)!