I love chatting with my older daughter. I have the attention span of a fruit fly, and anyone who’s talked to teenagers know that an average conversation changes topics every 3.5 seconds. Which is just fine by me.
Tonight at dinner Taylor and I were chatting about how to flirt (which will be the subject of another post), and 30 seconds later I spotted her typing a long text message on her phone.
“Sweetie, who are you texting?”
“I am asking a camp counselor a faith question.”
I became curious.
“You do realize that your father used to be a pastor, holds a doctorate from one of the most prestigious seminaries in the world, and has taught theology both here and in Asia, right? Just sayin’ …”
Taylor looked up from her phone and smiled, “Oh right! Well…it’s just that in church and at camp, we are told to pray, we are told to worship, we are told to study the Bible…but how do you know any of it is real? I mean, how do you even know that God is real? What if we are just being told to put our faith in something that doesn’t exist?”
So we talked. Between bites of food we talked about how different people experience God differently, in different circumstances, in different times in their lives. We talked about if God is real, then we don’t need to be so uptight about “finding him”…He will find us, in his own way, in his own time.
In that little exchange, I was reminded again how I have always felt uncomfortable with the way we approach “Children’s Ministry” in the church. We put them through Children’s Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, etc., with the idea that faith can be “schooled”. We “teach” them at a young age that there is only one way to believe, one way to find God, one way to “believe in Jesus.” But what if our children experience and encounter Jesus differently in their lives? What if Jesus choose to make himself real to our kids through different people, different circumstances outside the church, and…even through different religions and faiths? Rather than putting faith in a “box” for our kids and saying “This is how you find Jesus”, should we not instead help our kids develop a worldview and a view of God that is expandable, that will allow them the open mindedness to recognize Jesus when they encounter him later on in their lives? Remember the indictment of a poor worldview that could not recognize God in John 1:11?
“…Though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him”
That’s why I don’t make it a big deal whether my girls go to church. Don’t get me wrong, we attend church as a family regularly (although perhaps not “religiously” every Sunday) and my girls both enjoy themselves there. But I don’t worry about whether they attend every Bible study, whether they want to go every Sunday, or even whether they have “accepted Christ” through the many Children’s programs that they have been a part of. Like Taylor and I talked about tonight, when the time is right, they will experience Him. It may not be in a church. It may not happen within the context of institutional Christianity. It may even happen through other religions and faith traditions of their choosing. But if Jesus is real, and I believe He is, then I believe He will allow my girls to encounter Him. In His own way, in His own time.
Just when I was going to ask Taylor more about what she thought about all this, I discovered that we were once again talking about flirting.
I love chatting with my girls 🙂