Recently the NY Times published a fascinating piece that revealed the rooms children live in around the world. From many different vantage-points, we are reminded of what truly matters when “making a home” for our children to grow up in. It is not the walls, or what decorates them. It is not the fluffiness of the bed. It is not the Barbie shoe you step on every single night after putting your daughters to bed, that hurts just enough to make you grunt, making your daughters laugh at you – thinking you want them to, and you try and smile as you leave the room quietly restraining yourself.
Recently I’ve been reading a book that challenges me. I don’t agree with everything the author says. But I do believe there is something important to the point he is trying to make. Over time, we’ve let go of one of the most important things that has been a part of “making a home for our children” for centuries. We send our kids to Sunday School, to Wednesday night programming, to children’s church, to summer camps, and to VBS. We pray with them. Once in a while, we’ll even follow up on a Sunday School lesson that was sent home. But it seems largely, the primary role of discipleship of our children has been slowly given over to “ministries” that for a long time have advertised any good parent would do so.
The answer is not to disband all ministries, and slap a giant “evil” stamp on them…by any means. Sooo much good has been done, and sooo many lives transformed by ministries that provided what wasn’t happening in the home. Because this has been happening for more than one generation, many of us parents take our kids to church/other ministries, and accidentally make them the primary source of discipleship simply because we never saw it happen in our own homes growing up.
Thankfully, there are ministry resources popping up all over the place these days, some for good reasons, and some probably hoping to profit off this “new wave” in ministry. But for many this is not simply a “new wave”. Many pastors are repenting of “ministry focused” approaches, and laying new foundations of families and homes. For many of us parents, we’re realizing our role and wanting/praying to begin growing our children at home. Building relationships with our children so that when they have questions of faith or need someone to pray with….they know home is where we begin…together.
The problem is, our culture and pace of life seem so focused on claiming as much of our time/space as possible, by the time we realize the need to re-orient our home life…it feels too late. We may already be in routines that ways of living, that the only time we have to disciple our children…is after their bedtime. It may take some difficult and sacrificial changes in our schedules and homes, sometimes on a daily basis, to see this happen.
And so, as my daughters march around “Jericho” (the center area of our house), culminating with some loud shouting/screaming at the fireplace, each of them excited to play the role of Joshua the next time around….I smile. Sure, we’ve got a great home, and I think we do a decent job at giving our kids comfort/safety. But I hope and pray that the home we’re providing for them is soooo much more than what we can see in pictures, and that I can make room for it when it doesn’t happen naturally…