I'm a parent. And I take seriously my role as my children's primary faith model. We talk about faith issues at different times--in the car, before bed, at dinner, while watching a TV show, after school--but not every day. More so when the need arises. I don't make my 12- and 14-year-old go to every church program every time the doors are open. I don't make them attend Sunday school--they go to "big" church with us unless they want to go to their class. With my 19-year-old, I don't make him go to church at all...he goes when he chooses. I don't make them serve...although they do serve in different ways--preteen week of hope, toddler room teacher, Belize mission trip, etc. I don't lead them in weekly family devotions--although we used to try that. I don't pray with them regularly enough. I don't get them in the Word enough--although they're all going to Christian school now and learning tons about God's Word!
Am I the kind of parent who would annoy most children's ministers--because "I don't care enough"?
I have to tell you something I experienced at the conference that saddened and scared me. In one of the large sessions, a speaker made a disparaging remark about parents (trying to be funny, I'm sure) and over half the crowd cheered. Cheered, I tell you!! Are we really that annoying because we don't fit the mold of what some children's ministers think we should be?
I hear a lot of talk (and I understand that it comes from a good place) about we need to help parents be the primary Christian educators in their children's lives. So we give them educational tools to use at home and when they don't use them, we say they don't care. Perhaps we need to forget the "educational" model at home...and stop and instead say to parents "You are the primary faith model in your child's life--at all times! And we're the primary Christian educators--as you allow us to be!"
How can we help parents in the everydayness of doing life with their children to model faith in a loving God, to create homes that are workshops for grace, to grapple together with who God is and what it means to follow hard after him--not in a programmed way, but in a natural way? Maybe it's as simple as great discussion-starters that get parents and children talking about faith. Or using a strategic curriculum like FaithWeaver so every single person in the entire family studies the same passage (and the pastor preaches on it, too!)--and therefore they've got something to talk about at home throughout the week.
We parents know how you feel about us, by the way. We pick up on the nuances. Rather than being annoyed by us, please advocate for us! Be our biggest fans! Welcome our children--and us--with grace, a hug, and a big smile--after we've made the effort to bundle them up, pack their bags, load the car, get them into the building, and try to be on time to big church.
Thank you for partnering with us--so that you're the primary Christian educator in our children's lives. We need your partnership since we're the primary faith models. That's why we bring our kids to church--because we care so much (not because we're delegating all of it to you).