What’s More Effective Than The Best Youth Programs?

Parents with younger children or older kids still at home often value church as an opportunity to expose their children to Bible stories and principles, to get them involved in character-building service to others, and to provide them with wholesome, fun activities that might reduce the appeal of drugs and sex.  Church raises the odds, they hope, that their children will turn out well and stay out of serious trouble until they do.

For as long as our two sons lived at home, a good Sunday school program and later an active youth program with neat kids was high on my must-have list in selecting a church.  Looking back, I think the influence of their church experience (with a couple of nasty exceptions, one involving a superlegalistic youth pastor) was positive.  I’m grateful. And I’m grateful that these same two sons, now married with children of their own, want my grandkids to be similarly influenced by a church with good children’s programs.

But if a choice had to be made (and it never should have to be) between a church that shepherded children well but left the parents untouched in their inner world and a church with little for kids but lots to form adults into truth-hungry, formation-focused, community-alive, mission-overflowing disciples of Jesus, I’d choose the latter church every time.  No contest.  God-obsessed parents have more influence on kids than the best youth programs. Much more.

~ Larry Crabb in Real Church:  Does It Exist?  Can I Find It?, pages 7-8 (emphasis mine).

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