I pulled this blog post up from a couple of years ago. The title may seem odd, as my husband and I are in a church planting residency program, but as you read, I pray you are able to hear my heart on this.
I'm struggling here. My kids are growing up in a scary world. Tomorrow is the fourteenth anniversary of 9/11 (WHAT?!) and tomorrow morning, I'm going to sneak off and relive the day through YouTube videos and Facebook posts and remember that morning.
Then, I'll be going through the day and reading Ann Voskamp blog posts on the Refugee Crisis or the Planned Parenthood debates on CNN and just think, "Oh. My. Goodness. God, where are You?!"
I'm an emotional person. An anxiety eater. The other night I couldn't sleep after watching Downtown Abbey because I was putting myself in Edith's shoes. Good grief.
So... back to my kids... and church...
I read this article tonight on how young people are leaving the church in droves... and the author got right down to the root of it. It was so true. It's not the church's fault... it's the parents' fault.
Well, "fault" may be a difficult word to use there, more like "problem".
I want to shelter my kids. I want to keep them innocent. I don't want them to see the scariness, to talk about the messiness, to enter into the ugliness of it all.
I want them to "get saved". I want to sit back and breathe a sigh of relief that I don't have to worry anymore about the return of my Savior "in case my kids aren't saved." (Yes, I think about that. Seriously.)
I want to give them a "Sunday School childhood" like I had. Church was "safe". Nothing entered there. It looked pretty. But honestly, this deep-seated desire of mine might be the very thing that drives them farther away from the gospel.... from a life lived in faith and hope through the saving work of Jesus Christ.
So... when did my kids not go to church, you ask? Well... let me tell you.
When my kiddos were toddlers... 3 and 1, we packed up and headed off to Peru to be missionaries. Missionaries for life!! (No, not really... another story for another time.) In the five years we spent there, we never really had a "church family". There was no "traditional" Sunday School... no silver-haired-wise-beyond-belief ladies teaching my girls their David and Goliath stories.
To be honest, I'm not even sure if they know all the "Bible stories"... #momfail.
We were pretty much on our own. Due to the difficulty (impossibility) of travel some days...and ministry demands on others...we probably went to church twice in a month. It was a coin toss if we went to church on Sunday.
I lamented this. I bemoaned the fact that my children didn't have a North American church childhood. That we wouldn't be able to participate in the Sword Drills on our furlough. Growing up, I moved around a lot, so the "church" was my family. I hated that my kids didn't have that.
I've come to realize that God is using that time of our family's life to mold and shape what we are now, what our children are learning as "normal life". Don't get me wrong, church right now is AWESOME... we have a fantastic, wonderful, amazing church family as we've returned to the States and I wouldn't give it up for ANYTHING. The past 6 months we've been back on the ground in the USA have been refreshing, relaxing, and downright familiar. I've loved every minute of it!
But church still isn't necessarily part of the DNA of my kids. Soon it will be again... but in a much different light than I would have imagined. They'll actually be on the front lines as we work in a church plant and then branch out sometime in the next few years as we plant our own.
On our first day at this new church plant (happening in a few weeks!), we'll be dressing up and going in 80's costumes to church for the 6th anniversary of when God started their journey.
That's about as far from "traditional church" as you can get.
And I pray that my kids can see that our life isn't about "church"... or their salvation... or protecting them from the big bad world (because it IS a ridiculously dark place)...
..it's about living our lives day in and day out knowing that God has called us on this crazy adventure with Him and giving it our EVERY BREATH to do what He's asked us to do. And sometimes that means being in scary places. Sometimes that means talking about the filth and the ugliness. Sometimes that means forgetting that "church" needs to be pretty and clean and that it's really about bandaging up broken, bleeding, disfigured people who desperately need a shot of hope.
I want my kids to know that I have NO. IDEA. what I'm doing. That it's only through HIS amazing grace and power that I can even get out of bed in the morning. That this world is ugly and broken and scary... but we serve the One who wins in the end. And that's all that really matters.