Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Bringing Up Children Who Love The Church

Christmas program at the Powhatan Mennonite Church
I had the privilege of speaking this past Sunday morning at one of my favorite congregations, the Powhatan Mennonite Church just west of Richmond. Over a dozen members of their congregation were former students of mine at Eastern Mennonite High School, some of whom are now grandparents. Wonderful and warm people!

The following is the outline of a discussion I led with them during their 10 am Sunday School hour:

It Takes A Whole Congregation—Bringing Up Children Who Love The Church

As a part of a free church tradition we believe each of our children has the right (and the responsibility) to decide when, where or even whether they become baptized members of the church. Our major responsibility, however, shared with fellow members of the congregation, is to be the most Christ-like examples and teachers for them we can possibly be, as follows:

1. Our own lives are demonstrations of love, joy, peace, patience and other good Spirit fruit.

2. We cultivate a warm, positive relationship with our children by being good listeners and playful friends as well as good role models and disciplinarians.

3. We ourselves set a joyful and faithful example of the kind of loyalty and service in the church that we want our children to demonstrate.

4. We are in agreement with our spouse (and with other parents in the congregation as much as possible) in setting reasonable expectations and guidelines for regular church attendance and youth group involvement.

5. We plan some vacation and other family activities (service projects, attending church wide assemblies, etc.,) that help our children understand more of the positive aspects of church life and service.

6. We enjoy regular fellowship, hospitality and service relationships with other church members and church leaders who are positive role models.

7. We limit, monitor and have frequent conversations about our children’s use of screen-based media and entertainment.

8. We negotiate reasonable agreements with our children about their church attendance and involvement without either yielding ground on the priority we place on church or resorting to ongoing power struggles.

9. As our children gain the right and responsibility to make major life choices (college, career, friendships, etc.) as young adults, we also respect their responsibility to make their own choices about church membership and involvement.

10. With our baptized children we recognize they are accountable not only to us parents for their actions and decisions, but to fellow believers in their church family, so our discipline begins to be based more on the Matthew 18:15-18 and Galatians 6:1-5 member/member model rather than the previous parent/child model.

Here's a link to audio versions of the above session and of the morning sermon, "Choosing and Cherishing".
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