Are our kids’ spiritual journeys being tended to well enough? What more can we do? Who’s responsible? These are a few of the questions the 3rd Place leadership team has been wrestling with for years. To me, it seems that every church I’ve ever been connected to wrestles with these questions. They’re important to examine because our kids’ relationship with Jesus is the most important thing.
How 3rd Place has answered this question in the past is similar to what every church has done. Find someone to give them a Bible lesson while the adults have their service. But there seems to be several disconnects with this. First of all, it’s my responsibility as a father to tend to the spiritual well-being of my children. Yet every Sunday, I choose to give that responsibility to someone else. Now, I understand all the reasons to do this. I know that children are at different life stages, learn differently, those teachers are better skilled teachers for children, etc… But that rationale has become rather weak to me. I wouldn’t bring in a school principal to discipline my child every time they do something wrong in my home. I wouldn’t hire a dog groomer to bathe them (joking…kind of). These are smaller tasks given to a parent in comparison to the most important thing: their spiritual development.
I have been growing in this sense that I must guide my children personally. They will learn from my example, so why wouldn’t they learn from my teaching and from participating in a faith community WITH me not separate from me? This is where 3rd Place has stepped up their game. They see two things that are very important. First, it is the responsibility of the parent to guide the spiritual development of the child. Second, they see it as their responsibility to equip parents to do this more effectively (the view that the church exists to equip the saints).
So what we’re going to begin trying out is a family gathering where the child is the focus and the church creates an environment for family learning to take place. The parent is sacrificing their personal preferences for the development of the child. Why? Because we’re called to lay down our lives for our families. It’s also not to say that a parent cannot learn and grow spiritually either. There’s a phenomenon in teaching that happens. The teacher tends to learn MORE than the student as they are forced to spend time in preparation for the lesson. It may not suite my normal preference to listen to a sermon, but I guarantee you I will learn more every week as I’m forced to turn my attention to my children in a teaching posture.
As this unfolds, we’ll keep sharing some insights along the way!