Monday, April 25, 2011

Actions speak louder...

Sometimes I disagree with people I love.  And I don't mean about music or movies or food flavors. I mean about important things. Like parenting styles. And that's ok. Everyone needs to have one, and they can't always be the same. And it's probably better to be bad at it than not even try at all. But, I digress...

In student ministry, sometimes it feels like we compete with families. That is the opposite of what we should try to do. I apologize for any strife I have caused any family in that department! I know sometimes it is impossible when you want to do something as a family and the youth group has a fellowship planned. Again, though, I digress. Sometimes it has been mentioned I have A.D.D.

The small parenting paradigm with which I have been wrestling lately is involvement. Kids are busy these days. It is important to be involved in lots of things. One, it keeps them busy and out of trouble. Two, it keeps them from playing video games 13 hours a day (that is the average gamer's time per day--"gamer" as defined by someone who plays a LOT of video games and would consider that his identity.) I am not awake 13 hours a day, if you subtract time for eating and going potty (give grace to this parent of a toddler).

So here's my dilemma. For years I have struggled with this. Parents stress commitment to school work, the arts, and sports. If a student is taking cello, she shouldn't miss a lesson. If a student plays soccer, he shouldn't miss his tournament. If a student has homework, she shouldn't come to church. And that sounds ok on the surface, but when I did a little deeper I realize the dangerous message it sends. Church is less important than all these things. Sure, we want our kids in church--as long as nothing else (and I mean NOTHING) conflicts with it.

I know there has to be balance. But I really worry about how these lessons will be internalilzed by our teens. I wonder if they will end up being citizens of America who do what is good and are good people who happen to go to church occasionally. Or will they be citizens of the Kingdom of God who also are active in being salt and light in the world? I pray that the latter will be true.

I don't think it is vital that church "win out" on every face-off. However, I do think we need to make sure that we send the message that God comes first. (And family comes second, but that's another rant for another day. But I do hope you don't allow your children's busy-ness to conflict with family opportunities!) And, finally, let me say this. I believe in what our ministry is about. I've said for years and I'll say it again, if you will allow your students to fully vest in our ministry, they will be prepared. Now, that is also assuming you are doing your part as a parent. But, I'm sure you are! And if you are a parent reading this and you don't go to SHBC, then I still trust that your teen's youth ministry has a mission, goal, and strategy to help your child fully connect with his/her place in the Kingdom of God. Trust that. And don't worry, they can still take piano.