If we believe everything we read and hear these days, the church just can’t do anything right.
In the past week alone, I’ve read blogs condemning the church for being too judgmental, too rigid, too boring, too demanding, and therefore, driving young people away.
I’ve also read blogs accusing the church of being nothing more than entertainment, of pandering to the demands of the congregation, of selling a cheap gospel that tickles the ears without changing the heart, and therefore, driving young people away.
It seems that regardless of the “approach,” today’s church is simply doomed to lose this next generation of young people and it’s All.Their.Fault.
Can I be blunt? Those accusations really bother me. They fall into the same vile vat of rationalizations that claim a better youth group, or a more involved youth pastor, or more dynamic sermons, or relevant music could keep our kids from rebelling… could keep our kids from sin.
Moms and dads, the culpable culprit isn’t the church, or the youth pastor, or the sermons, or the music.
Yes, the church is a key component in our children’s spiritual growth and spiritual development. Yes, the church is key in helping our children develop a living and active passion for Christ. However, the main component, the main input, and the main Somebody responsible for how our children view and care for and about the church is us. Their parents. Period. End of Paragraph.
It is through their interactions with us that our children will be introduced to the church. As they witness our devotion to the church they will be building their opinion about the state of that church; God’s church… the one Christ died to save. Our words and actions are what will teach them that the church is too judgmental, or too rigid, or too boring, or too demanding. It is through our own pandering to our children’s demands that they will decide that the church needs to entertain them, or meet their needs, or tickle their ears without causing them discomfort.
It is our words, our actions, our commitment, our devotion, our passion or lack of passion that will most deeply influence our children’s hearts.
And then, if and when our young people walk away from the church, that finger of blame will be first, and rightly so, pointing back at us… Their parents.
I don’t know about you, but I want my children to love the church. I want them to find their deepest soul satisfaction, their strongest relationships, and their greatest avenues of service in and through their local body of Christ. In the church I want them always and forever to find Christ.
So, I’ve had to ask myself some “not so comfortable” questions about how I’m defining the church for my children. With grown kids who each have their own relationship with both the Lord and the church, I’ve had to stop and evaluate just what kind of message I’ve been sending for all these years.
For some of my children, the message regarding my love for the church has obviously been very clear. I see in them the same love relationship I have for the church. I see them serving, fellowshipping, growing, and passionately sharing their love for Christ and others through their church body.
For some of my other children, however, I’m afraid the message was muddied. As a couple of my kids watched me struggle through the times of hurt and rejection I experienced during Steve’s time in the pastorate, I’m afraid the church took the brunt of the blame. Instead of counting those hard times as “Joy,” (James 1:2) I allowed myself the freedom to grumble and complain. That grumbling and complaining did nothing positive for my children! Instead, my grumbling led them to believe that the church was too judgmental, too rigid, too demanding… You get the picture.
That was never my goal!
I want my children to love the church.
I want your children to love the church.
I long to see this next generation make the church a place that is a sanctuary for the saved, a lighthouse for the lost, and the rightful leader it should be in the shaping of our culture.
On Thursday, I’ll share some ideas to help you as you “define” the church for your children. The big idea isn’t to simply “survive” worship with our kids, but rather, to build an excitement, a passion, and a deeply rooted heart-love for Christ’s church.
He is our example. Christ loved the church. Christ prayed for the church. And ultimately, Christ gave His life for the church. If we are to be like Him, we must develop that same heartbeat for the church… His bride!
Are you ready for some heart evaluation and, if necessary, some open-heart surgery? There’s more to come!