Something I have wrestled with often is how to best disciple our kids. Taking them to church, or bringing them into our community life here in South Africa is great and all, but I’m not a fan of outsourcing my primary responsibilities. On top of that, I wonder how much it just feels like I’m dragging them to the next event rather than actually shaping their spirituality. So what’s the “right way” of doing this?
In the last year, I have come to a place that there isn’t a perfect “model” for church or discipleship in general… just different, contextualized ways. While I could go off an many bunny trails here, let me dive into what happened yesterday.
Yesterday morning, Natalie and I got the kids up early to go and join some friends from the Morelta Park church in their “outreach” to Mama Mary’s orphanage. I had been there about a month ago and really wanted the kids to be with me this time. My understanding going into the event was that we were going to be painting their new fence, making the kids lunch, painting some murals, etc… What I didn’t expect was the mass turnout of church members!
It was an overflow of people like I hadn’t seen before. Over 100 church goers for the 60-70 kids! There was literally nothing for me to do except be with the kids while Natalie worked with some others on the mural paintings. For the first hour, I was a bit perplexed and felt pretty useless. I really battled with feelings of inadequacy because I wasn’t doing anything “important” or “productive”. But then it dawned on me. Being with the kids and helping them engage new relationships WAS what I was there for. Taking my kids WITH me is part of their spiritual formation. Handing Ezra a paint brush so he could paint the fence while I watched, that’s monumental. Moving into a group of the workers from Mama Mary’s with Keziah DID move her towards a deeper spirituality as they passed her around and loved on her.
Every five minutes I had someone yell to me “hey daddy, let me see the baby!” Then a picture would be taken, I’d show it off, and we would all have a big laugh and someone’s goofed expression. It was perfect.
The kids connected.
I can’t go back there with you and show you what I “did,” but I can introduce you to some friends that the kids and I made yesterday.
Maybe taking our kids with us isn’t the end all in their formation. I actually know it’s only a part of it. But I think it’s a bigger part of it than I’ve given it credit before.