From the book Homegrown Faith by David and Kathy Lynn
We cannot talk about homegrown faith without talking about the church. It is through the church that God’s purposes are worked out in our world. The church is where the action is! It is where faith is formed and nurtured. Unfortunately, we have a distorted picture of the church in the United States today. What comes to mind when you hear the word church? For many people, church is associated with a building; we “go to” church; we worship God at church; we learn about Jesus in church. Church is considered a place we go to rather than an identity…
Here are three disturbing falsehoods our children are learning when adults equate church with a building.
You go to the church building to get a weekly dose of God.
Relying on trips to a building to seek God’s presence teaches our kids that God is trapped in a box. God then needs to be visited in this God Box or God Building. During the week God becomes irrelevant. By adulthood, God becomes irrelevant on Sunday as well.
Our distorted picture of the church is adversely affecting our children and youth. They are catching an anemic faith and erroneous theology. If we want God to be the center of our lives and the lives of our kids, then we must make God relevant everyday. The building becomes irrelevant; the congregation and the home become key to passing on the faith to our children and our grand children.
We have heard many empty-nest parents say, “I brought up my childen in the church, but they dropped out as adults.” The reality for most of these parents is that they raised their childen in a church building. Simply taking kids to a building does not ensure they are participating in the gathered church, the congregation. Surprisingly, in the United States today, a young person can move through a congregation’s age-graded programs without spending much time with Christians from other genrations. Young people reach the age of 18 having spent most of their time with their peers. They have never been fully integrated into the life of the congregation and their mission in the world…
Faith is a personal, private matter.
Kids learn quickly that if they do not learn about God outside the four walls of the church building, then a relationship with God is a hush-hush, private matter….A faith that is rarely talked about is rarely practiced. And a faith that is rarely practiced does not grow. In fact, it withers and dies…Our faith is not a private matter! Our relationship with God must be integrated into everyday family life…
Faith formation is best left to the paid professionals and their trained volunteers.
Leaving the nurturing of our kids faith to the experts is one of the most serious parenting and grandparenting mistakes Christians make today. American Christianity has developed a “drop-off” mentality where children and teenagers are deposited at the church building so that the faith experts can teach them about Jesus and the Christian faith. Parents have two roles–taxi driver and time keeper–get their kids to the church building and pick them up on time…Don’t misunderstand. Congregations need a paid and volunteer staff committed to working with children and youth…but paid and volunteer staff can only supplement what is happening in the home…Do not out-source nurturing the faith to paid professionals. Instead, partner with your congregation, doing what you can while at the church building and at home.