When did we start expecting so little of our children? Sure, schools cram kids full of information before sending them home to juggle homework, extracurricular activities, and family, but that doesn’t always mean we expect much from them, aside from excessive busyness. As a society in general, we’ve loaded kids down with a lot of “stuff,” while also lowering our expectations in many ways.
We think they can’t handle losing, so we give everybody a prize. We think they can’t handle assigned chores (and we don’t want to listen to them complain), so we’ve stopped requiring that they pitch in around the house. They ask, we give.
What kind of kids are we producing? Hard-working, well-adjusted, and faith-filled? Or anxiety-ridden, self-conscious doubters?
*Disclaimer: My oldest is eleven and I don’t have it all figured out. If you feel like I’m pointing fingers, please be assured I realize I have three pointing back at myself, and we’re all on a journey. There are many contributing factors to who a child becomes.*
Here’s what I really want to focus on—what we expect of our kids in regard to our Christian faith.
First, a little about my family. My husband and I have frequent discussions with our three kids. Always have. We listen to their thoughts and share our own. We talk about implications to certain ideas and ask questions. We talk about Jesus and the Bible and its rich history and meaning.
We aren’t content to read with our kids about Noah’s Ark for the umpteenth time and call it good.
Faith is a complex, constantly evolving thing. We don’t want to overwhelm them with details and conversations they’re not intellectually ready for, but we do want to acknowledge their capabilities in understanding this three-in-one God who loves them more than they’ll ever understand (this side of heaven).
Our family moved to a new area a couple years ago and we spent plenty of time church-hunting. Do you know one of the hardest parts for a family about finding a new church to call home? The children’s programs. It took us awhile to find a new home church, and although there are many great churches in town, we’re so happy we searched until we found one that shares our vision for kids.
Yes, we want our kids to have fun and love church. But that’s not the end-all. Unfortunately, for too many these days, it is.
Some churches are so seeker friendly that the more established Christian children get the short end of the stick. They get a bare-bones lesson about “love” or “kindness” or some other general value, play games, get a prize, and go home.
After being part of a church plant that had a rich children’s program before our move, our kids caught on to this seeker-sensitive dynamic quickly in our church hunting. One time we got in the car (okay, van) after church, asked how it went, and got this response: “It was fine. Played some games and watched a funny video.” To which we asked, “What was the lesson about?” The answer: “We didn’t really have a lesson. There was a funny video about being kind, but it didn’t mention God.”
I recognize that was our one-week glimpse into their program, but unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for children’s church programs to simply tout good values these days.
Well, one reason seems to be our lowered expectations. We want to be sure kids have a good time and come back next week; we don’t want to burden them with in-depth lessons.
Have we forgotten that children are often quick learners, capable of understanding far more than we give them credit for? Have we considered that they’re often craving deeper information about their faith in a time when life has a lot of changes and questions? Do we not realize how Kingdom-hungry children really are?
Do we really want to teach down to them only to have them meet our lowered expectations?
If we aren’t bold enough to teach our children that God loves them, sent Jesus to bring them into a lifelong relationship of love, forgiveness, and the assurance of Heaven, and then sent his Holy Spirit to empower them each day, what are we really trying to accomplish?
Let’s dare to be bold when talking to our children about God. Let’s talk to them at their level, and recognize that “their level” is probably much higher than we assume.
Children aren’t the church of the future. They’re the church of today. They’re only the church of the future when grown-ups tell them so.
What are your thoughts? What have been your observations of the kids in your life regarding faith? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below!
My Christian fiction novel, Power Up, was written for the exact purpose of giving kids (8 & up) a boost in their faith. It’s perfect for kids who crave a bit more knowledge about God’s role in our lives than what they receive at church or home.
I’m excited to tell you that a companion study guide is now available as a free download on my website! It’s great for individual study or small group gatherings of kids who want to dive in. Check it out here – and encourage the kids in your life to power up! 🙂
Quick update on me…I’ve recently completed the women’s fiction manuscript I’ve been working on for over a year, and I’m so excited!! (Still plenty of editing to do.) I have to withhold details for now, but the story is near and dear to my heart, inspired by true events in my incredible grandparents’ lives. Pray with me, if you would, that the right publishing professionals would see its value, and give it a chance to become a real book one day! Thanks for your support! You guys are the best!
One last thing–Power Up has been named as a finalist in the 2020 Selah Awards! The winner will be announced in May, but it’s honestly an honor just to be recognized as a finalist.
5 thoughts on “Kids: Kingdom Hungry”
Good reminder to have those deeper faith conversations with our kids. I think children’s and youth programs in our churches have an enormous task these days. Kids today have so many really great fun distractions at their disposal. Going to church has become entertainment on some level. Churches are competing with the world for kid’s souls, and that’s tough competition. I am not opposed to fun at church as long the truth is being taught. Your post is a reminder that it’s our responsibility as Christian parents to teach the truth of God’s word at home first.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Meghan! You’re so right — children’s churches have their work cut out for them retaining kids attention. I’m all for fun at church too, I just think lots of kids are capable of and hungry for more when it comes to their faith, so I don’t want that to get neglected, as it’s so easy to do. It certainly comes back to what we’re teaching our children at home, while recognizing that tweens are at an age where outside voices are getting much louder to their souls. It take a village and tons of prayer, doesn’t it?! 🙂
Yes! It takes a lot of prayer. 😊 My oldest son was always frustated when he was in high school at our church youth group. He would tell us he wanted to learn more and learn about Jesus and it just wasn’t being presented. At least not the deeper stuff. It’s difficult for all of these youth groups because many times the focus is on the non-church kids. We need to pray for all our Children’s and Youth leaders. They’ve got a tough job. I’m grateful for other believers, like you, to encourage each other as parents.
Wow. Jessie, this is a powerful message. And one that needs to be shouted from the rooftops! We do expect so little of our kids, on every level. But the one that hurts them the most, is that we expect so little of them spiritually. Holy Spirit, stir the fire of our faith, that we will expect the fire of our kids’ faith to be stirred! I understand the idea of being seeker sensitive, but I really believe if we are on fire for Christ, these sparks will ignite the fire in those who are hungry for Him. May we never quench the Spirit and water down the truth of the gospel. In the end, every single person’s deepest need is Christ. Period. May we not fall short in our effort to be fun. This has eternal consequences for the people we serve.
Yes, Melissa — thank you! Agree 100% with everything you shared!
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