Several years ago Rose and I started a small group meeting in our home. We specifically wanted people new to our church and not yet followers of Jesus. The response to our personal invitation was quite good. Five couples came to our first gathering. One couple was a young woman who had been in the church for some time and a young man who she was dating. He was not a Christian and had never been to church. Another couple, were old friends of ours. The woman had had a cancerous tumor removed from her brain. We were so thankful for her survival and being able to attend. The only issue? Her condition caused her to have no filters to what she might say and when she might say it.
During the meeting she began to talk in detail about animal sacrifice and the graphic aspect of the killing of animals and describing the blood. The young man got out of the house as fast as he could. He told his new girlfriend she was a part of some crazy cult. Fortunately, I met with him a few days later. He eventually became a follower of Jesus. The lesson, be prepared for anything when you start a small group.
Rich and I have been traveling since the first week of January with only a few days home between each trip. Today I am sitting in my living room with the doors and windows open. It is a beautiful day in Seattle. The sun is out, our yard is in bloom and the birds are singing. Spring, the return of warmth the feeling that all nature has come back to life and a reminder that all things are being made new!
I am grateful to be home most of May and June. To be home is grounding. Sitting on my deck, listening to the cats, the dogs, the birds and insects; seeing the elegant colors of flowers opening and showing their beauty along with all the leaves on trees and bushes that seemed to have appeared overnight while I was asleep. The scent of lilies, crocus, outside grilling and the soft touch of transparent leaves, petals and the blades of grass under my feet give me hope that there is always a new day. The sun will come out. Mourning can turn to dancing and there is beauty for ashes. God’s mercies are truly new everyday.
When church leaders are asked to identify the three main ways in which children’s spiritual formation is developed the number one response is primarily in the home, secondarily in the church community and third in their school environment. Now if you were to ask most Christian parents, “Who is responsible for children’s faith formation?”, do you think their response would be the same? Is it a common perception that the church is what parents generally depend on for the moral and spiritual development of their children?
Research shows that three out of every five engaged Christian parents say that they are primarily responsible for the discipling their children in lifelong faith. The other 40% of parents do feel committed and passionate about it but personally inadequate to disciple their children. Now, if this is the mindset amongst so many Christian parents then it is safe to assume that they are relying primarily on the one to two hours a week that the children spend at church Sunday mornings for their children’s development of their faith.
If discipleship is only happening during the few hours that kids are in church in comparison to the amount of time they are in other learning environments such as school or home it seems unfair to assume these children will have adequate time to develop a faith that will last them a lifetime.