This is a question I often get asked.
As we explore new forms of church what will happen to our kids?
What if there is no Sunday School or youth group? This morning I met with Scott who serves as my ministry coach and amongst many valuable things we discussed was this question of how we raise our kids to love Jesus and to be real followers of his.
While we (Scott and I) have obviously made it thru the current system, the reality is that many many do not go beyond Sunday School or youth group. I can’t remember the exact figures but I think an NZ study showed the attrition rate to be as high as 80%.
Is this a failure of the church?
I don’t think its so much a failure of the church as perhaps failure of the family and a fact that the Jesus way is a narrow way. No matter how ‘well’ we do with our kids some will choose not to love and follow Jesus.
One of my favourite cartoons from Youthworker journal is a picture of a young person being carted off to jail by the police while parents stand there lamenting ‘where did our youth pastor go wrong?!’ In our conversation this morning we discussed the possibility that the absence of Jesus from the everyday rhtyms of family life and conversation is probably much more of a contributor to adolescent drop off than the church’s poor discipling or the absence of a youth group.
This does put responsibility for discipling squarely in the hands of the parents – where it belongs. It is not a youth pastor’s role to disciple my kids or your kids. That’s our alien movie job. Youth pastors can assist, but they are very much secondary to a healthy family where Jesus is present, visible and honoured.
I wonder if for some parents to talk about Jesus is on a par with talking about sex? Its kind of awkward and they don’t know where to start. This is possibly also generational.
We have made it a practice to talk about Jesus with our kids as openly and as regularly as we can. Its one of our favourite topics. As a person who loves to talk about Jesus anyway I am always excited when Ellie wants to talk about him. I am hopeful that as we make this an integral part of life that really good discipling will occur. If discipling is about ‘doing life together’ then there is no better setting than with our kids who watch us every day and who see what really happens in our lives.
Maybe a key to the next generation of young people and children becoming disciples is in equipping parents to think about discipleship differently and to call them to a much more engaged family spirituality.
(And if you’re wondering if the ‘timestamp’ on this post is correct… it is… I fell asleep on the couch at 7.30 for two hours and now I am wide awake…)
Might go and change the oil in the car…