9/15/2008
Let's get this going again folks.
As I follow some of your other blogs I know you all are busy, but I feel a need for some of your thoughts and ideas on parenting in this day and age.
I personally would like to get your thoughts on parenting in a vacuum of church and community. Is it healthy?
Is it overemphasized?
Although the community is sought after the traditional church is not.
Let me know.
be the peace
 
posted by brett at 8:52:00 AM |


13 Comments:


At September 15, 2008 at 10:51 AM, Blogger Brooke

Yes, let's get this blog going again! I desperately need the support of "emerging parents."

As for parenting in a vacuum of traditional church and/or community... I don't really have much to offer. I can say that my husband and I have been away from the traditional church for 6 years - we've been part of a local house church instead - but the last few years we have distanced ourselves even from the house church (for a variety of reasons). We are certainly dealing with the issue of parenting in the midst of a lack of structured church (if any church at all). We deeply value community (and want to be a part of an intentional community of faith) and want our daughter to grow up feeling a part of a community of faith. I've been reading everything I can get my hands on and talking to everyone who is willing to talk about these issues. We are particularly wanting to teach our daughter about God in a different way than how we were raised (or than how most of our friends are teaching their children) so we have felt a bit alone.

I realize none of this really helps you, but I just wanted to respond and share my thoughts. Thanks for posting.

 

At September 16, 2008 at 7:13 PM, Blogger Bethany

My husband and I are currently very involved in a thriving faith community, but we are hoping to take our girls on an extended sailing trip (a year or two--we'll see) sometime in the next few years.

I have been reading a lot and thinking through many of the ramifications of that choice, one being its effect on our faith practices and connection to community. My assumption is that it will be a temporary season, but I can't imagine coming back unchanged and I wonder what new spaces we'll be coming "back" to.

Though our current community is a medium-sized local church, our hearts have been drawn to home-churches and/or communal-living thanks to experiences from our 4 years in Alaska. We have enjoyed seeing how each time God has called us to step out into a new place, he also has led us so clearly to a supporting community, though each time, that community looked very different from the previous one.

I struggle at times though, (partly because of pastor's kid upbringing, mainly because of my role as the "inside-the-box" thinker in the family) to be convinced that God can use this unconventional lifestyle to develop my daughters' relationship with him. It's easy for me to see how that might work in my husband's life and mine, but given my positive feelings about my traditional background, it's sometimes hard to have faith that they could get the firm foundation they need on the rolling deck of a boat.

So I'm all ears to hear from you who have gone before into the unknowns of raising God-following kids outside of traditional settings and would love to hear thoughts, struggles and discoveries from those of you who are still in the middle of this process.

 

At September 16, 2008 at 11:47 PM, Blogger Ken

I too would like to see this blog back up and running. Personally, I think it is important to explore new ways of bringing kids up in faith without relying on the "drop off" children's programming that is the norm.

 

At September 18, 2008 at 7:48 AM, Anonymous Brian Niece

I'm looking forward to support and good conversation.

My wife and I (and our two toddlers) are on the verge of leaving our pastoring position in the brick-and-mortar church to join some other emerging parents in beginning an intentional, missional, incarnational, organic community (that's a lot of descriptors, but ...).

We'll be in touch.

Shalom.

 

At September 18, 2008 at 7:50 AM, Blogger Brian Niece

Ooops. Forgot to use my Google profile there, so ....

I'm looking forward to support and good conversation.

My wife and I (and our two toddlers) are on the verge of leaving our pastoring position in the brick-and-mortar church to join some other emerging parents in beginning an intentional, missional, incarnational, organic community (that's a lot of descriptors, but ...).

We'll be in touch.

Shalom.

 

At September 18, 2008 at 7:50 PM, Anonymous Jenn

I'm in for getting this blog up and running again, too. I would love to discuss how to reflect Jesus beyond juice, crackers and colouring sheets. I love the idea of growing our children up in community. It's the christian subculture that scares me.....

 

At September 19, 2008 at 12:07 PM, Blogger Bethany

Jenn, You'll have to imagine my face, but it's open, interested, curious (as opposed to accusatory, angry, defensive) when I ask...
What do you mean by "christian subculture?"

 

At September 19, 2008 at 4:55 PM, Anonymous Jenn

Hi Bethany,

By "christian subculture" I mean Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night programs accompanied with private Christian school and all christian activities where our children have little to no experience outside of the "bubble". Does that make sense? I've just seen so many well meaning parents in my own church who have gone this route and a lot of those kids have completely walked away from the church and their faith. I really loved the thoughts of Tim Kimmel in "Grace based Parenting" and he touches on this issue there.

Let me know if you need more clarification. :) Sorry for being vague.

 

At September 21, 2008 at 8:04 PM, Blogger David R

My wife and I stopped attending our megachurch for worship almost two years ago. Then this summer we stopped taking our daughters to Sunday School. We felt that while the socializing time was fun for them, the content was minimal and approach pure consumerist. The daughters have not, even once, asked if they could go back.

Instead, on Sundays, either at lunch or dinner, we sit around the table and read scripture, then tell each other the story in the scripture. Sometimes we act out the stories; sometimes we draw pictures. Often we talk about how might live out the Gospel in our lives.

At least 80 percent of the time, we have wonderful discussions.

This doesn't replace a community, but it does allow us to participate in the spiritual development of our children in a very intentional way. I honestly believe our kids are getting way, way more in touch with God in their lives now than they ever were when we were going to megachurch.

 

At September 22, 2008 at 1:15 PM, Blogger David Hallgren

I see a trend of exodus on the blog and want to ask what is so destructive about remaining? I think our formative place will always be the "family" of origin, but a dysfunctional faith community can still be a place to exercise being prophetic to our peers, our leaders and especially to our institutions. I fully intend to point out the flaws of the institution to my daughter. I will also speak into the systems and trust that these actions will form an ethic of faith in her life as I exercise my faith.
I guess I am wondering aloud (or silently blogging...)if the kingdom can emerge within in the walls of the church as well as without? If so, someone should stick around to turn the lights on.

 

At September 29, 2008 at 12:58 PM, Blogger brett

Thank you all for your responses.
I know that in whatever we do intentionality will have to be central. Unfortunately for me without consitency and direction I flitter and float. That is not something I want to pass on to my children per se, although I find that a "wait and see what the universe throws your way" is not a bad philosophy to consider.
Anyway, in particular regard to David H., my exodus from church came a long time ago and for right now it doesn't even seem like an option. I do see value in maintaining a presence within the institution to help reform from the inside. I really want my children to develop their faith in the most robust and engaging environment possible and, at least for where we live, it does not seem like any church offers that. I really think Christianity is moving beyond denominational constructs and when my kids are my age the options will look drastically different.
But above all of this I really believe that our faith has been subsumed into its present form and many people do not know how to develop or maintain it outside of a church's influence. Much of that can and probably should be unpacked.
Life with my family day in and day out reveals my flaws as a human that Sunday at church cannot. I want my kids to see me working through this with fear and trembling.
Is this enough?
I am definitely considering some of your ideas.

 

At October 1, 2008 at 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous

Ok, so as an assistant pastor in a large church reading some of these post I would like to offer a stance from this side. I hope it is received.
My family is my responsibility.
The spiritual condition of my children will remain my responsibility for a certain length of time.
They will eventually need to come and make the choice to follow Christ on their own. I can not be the go between for them in Christ. I can only set the stage for God to do the work in their life. He still can do this without me or my wife, but has given them to us to steward in the direction of His will. My church will only complement how I am raising my kids. Youth group or Sunday school is not the starting point for us. We read the bible together, we pray together, my kids see both of these practices in the home regularly by both my wife and I.
I like to bring my kids to our church so that they can worship with others their age and fellowship with them. The church is helping me with what is going on at home, not the other way around. Does that make sense?
I hope I don't come across the wrong way (I am an evangelical).
Thanks

 

At October 14, 2008 at 7:00 AM, Blogger Bill

I’m glad I found this blog and I’m looking forward to some good discussions! I have two adult children (ages 27 and 25) and two younger children (12-year-old girl and 9-year-old boy). I love my “older set” with all my heart but I made so many mistakes with them religiously (as well as in other areas) that it isn’t even funny. I want so much to raise these other two in a better way of faith.

My own religious background is mostly conservative Christian so my first set of kids were raised within that paradigm. My 27-year-old doesn’t really believe in God anymore (for reasons of his own) and my 25-year-old is on the opposite side in charismatic circles where she sees God as being responsible for everything that happens in her life.

I’d like to be a better parent with my younger set, but it is such a struggle as I, myself, don’t even know if I like institutionalized Christianity anymore. For many of the reasons already mentioned in this thread, I don’t care for either the “baby-sitting” or “let us give your kids a Christian education” approaches that churches typically have. Churches seem to fall into one of two categories: the first kind that is “lively”, where God seems very real, where everyone is told to have a “personal relationship” with him, but where everyone is told exactly what to believe and questions are not encouraged. The other kind is more high church where God seems so distant or transcendent, everyone feels part of a history, rituals are a key link to community, but God as personal is not emphasized.

I wish there were a middle ground. I know that it is primarily my responsibility to teach and live out following Jesus with my kids. I don’t do that very well, but I do know that I am the main way they will interpret what having faith in God is like. So I do what I can while working out my own salvation with fear and trembling. At the same time, I don’t believe following Jesus is a private adventure where everyone is their own “Lone Ranger”, going it alone. I (and they) need community. Christianity was never meant to be a solo sport.

But what should we expect of community? One kind of church feels like it should provide unassailable answers to all of life’s problems, mainly through quoting scripture. It is all about personal faith and transformation. The other kind of church feels like it should provide community by which to achieve social goals and progress while holding onto ancient (and sometimes meaningless) rites. The personal aspect of knowing God is downplayed or even ignored.

I feel like my options for community are so limited. It seems to me that we need both personal and social transformation. We need a personal relationship, not only with God, but with each other. I don’t want to pull out of the institutional church altogether and give up on it. God hasn’t. But finding a church that emphasizes BOTH the personal and the social is hard, especially here in the Bible-belt.

Anyway, as you can tell, I have no answers. I want my kids to be part of Jesus’ community. But I am not always convinced that this is “the Church”. I want my kids to have a relationship with God (or to be aware of the one they do have). And I want them to be socially conscious as to how knowing God can change our world. I’m hoping the emerging conversation will open for us a middle road where both the personal and the communal are integrated.

Sorry so long. Thanks for listening.