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Turning the Bible Into Behavior

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Andy Stanley Thinks His Church is a Better Parent Than You Are

Some churches are big.

stadium-1082235_1920REALLY big.

Like, “fill a soccer stadium on a Sunday” big.

Still, most churches are not.

And, like it or not, there is often a rift between the small churches and the mega-churches. The big churches have more money and more ability to reach the masses. Smaller churches promote the idea that they are more able to impact lives on an individual level, helping mature people in genuine Christian discipleship.

So you can imagine the hubbub in church circles when mega-church pastor Andy Stanley said in a sermon:

When I hear adults say, “Well I don’t like a big church, I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,” I say, “You are so stinking selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids [or] anybody else’s kids” … If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult. Get over it. Find yourself a big old church where your kids can connect with a bunch of people and grow up and love the local church.

There was a large outcry from ministers and ministry workers across the country. To his credit, Stanley apologized and said:

“The negative reaction to the clip from last weekend’s message is entirely justified. Heck, even I was offended by what I said! I apologize.”

But he went on to explain that he was so proud of his church’s youth ministry reaching 4,600 teens. Just imagine if every teen could experience that kind of connection!

Sure, reaching teens is great. And I appreciate Stanley’s attempt to pacify the little guys, those of us who minister to groups of fewer than 100 people, but his apology doesn’t realy do much for me. It’s an “apology but….” He’s sorry to offend, but if you really understood his heart then you would see why he said it.

I call shenanigans.

In a nutshell, Stanley believes that his church and their teen outreach can do a better job of parenting than Christian parents can. He said:

You drag your kids to a church they hate, and then they grow up and hate the local church.

Did you catch that? If we can’t give kids an incredible, big-church experience then they’ll grow up hating the church. You owe it to your children to attend a mega-church with the mega-church resources so that they don’t hate the little church that can’t provide as much.

Barf.

baby-17342_1920I don’t believe parents ought to relegate the spiritual development of their children to the church (mega 0r small). Parents ought to be the PRIMARY source of spiritual development for children. And when children are raised seeing their parents engage in authentic Christian community, they will grow up belonging TO that community. What Stanley is really saying is that his church is full of parents who have abdicated their responsibility to spiritually lead and direct their children.

But what about the Bible? What does the Bible say?

Actually, it doesn’t say anything about church size. There are no directives, just examples. The example set in the Bible is that outreach and evangelism events have HUGE reach (in the thousands) but that the local church was small enough to fit in homes and local synagogues (the early church was made up of Jewish converts, so the synagogue was the natural place to meet).

The church is about Christian community. Acts tells us that they got together daily in homes to eat, worship, and listen to the apostles teach about Jesus. I get the sense that kids would have been part of this early community.

No youth ministry.

No separate area where parents allowed others to do their jobs for them. The family was involved in worship together.

Since the Bible doesn’t say anything about church size I won’t condemn mega-churches. They do a lot of good work. but Stanley is WAY off-base in his beliefs and comments. Stop worrying about the church raising kids. How’s about the church worries about making authentic disciples of the entire family unit? How can we raise mature parents in the faith so that they in turn can rear godly children?

And this is something that any sized church can do.

————————————————-

How about you? What size church do you attend? What are the merits of the small church? Of the large church?

“Best” Parenting Tips

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So a friend and his wife just welcomed their first child to the world. What an exciting time! I vividly remember our firstborn arriving. I nearly passed out. At one point of the delivery I had more nurses attending to me than were attending to the lady in labor!

In honor of my friend’s new parenthood I enlisted the help of some friends to come up with a list of “best” parenting tips we could think of. I mean, real life stuff that no parenting book or manual could ever teach you unless you go through the experience yourself – the kind of stuff everyone SHOULD know but never talks about.

Here are some of the gems we came up with:

–          In the event of a monster diaper blowout, the garden hose is an acceptable alternative to the bath for cleaning baby

–          When baby is teething the best thing for him to chew on is a frozen Snickers bar (ignore the studies on infant diabetes)

–          You can save money on washcloths and paper towels by letting the dog clean baby’s face.

–          Use of Velcro on baby and wall is acceptable method of watching baby

–          The television is a TERRIFIC babysitter when you and the Mrs. need some alone time.

–          Use Bynadryl & Nyquil to teach the child how to take communion. You might even want to take some, yourself.

–          Chicken wire is a great way to rope off a play area.

–          Place vegetables on the floor when the child learns to crawl. They are more likely to be eaten there

–          When the baby won’t stop crying, if you will cry even louder it will teach them how annoying it is.

–          If the kid wants ice cream for breakfast, give him ice cream. Life is short; don’t deny him anything.

–          Buy the healthiest cat or dog food you can because when baby finds that bowl…

–          You can save money on formula and juice by letting baby drink straight from the bathtub.

–          Legos will pass through the digestive tract of a 4 year old.

Please recognize that these are jokes – don’t get all huffy about mistreating infants.

In all seriousness, caring for kids is a great responsibility. It doesn’t matter if you’re parent, uncle, aunt, or family friend – whenever we have an opportunity to contribute to the well-being of a child it is an honor and a weight.

The Bible talks about training children from the time they are young. When we do our jobs as caretakers we give kids the best chance possible for a happy, healthy, and productive life.

Never take your role for granted.

Step up to the plate and do right by that kid.

How about you? What “best” tips would you add to the list? 🙂

8 Things Every Wife Needs to Do

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I believe the Bible calls us to live in mutually submissive and mutually controlling relationships. I am not my own, but I belong to my wife. She belongs to me. I need to submit to my wife’s needs, wants, and desires. She needs to submit to mine. I believe the God calls us to this kind of mutuality.

My wife and I teach a 9 week marriage-enrichment class at our church. In our marriage class we split the men and women into gender breakout groups to discuss questions and issues. Yesterday I shared about asking the women to identify 8 things their husbands do that they greatly appreciate. We also asked the men to identify 8 things their wives do that they greatly appreciate.

**Keep in mind that this is simply a list of things that the men in our class appreciated about their spouses. This is not a “MUST-DO if you want to be a Godly wife” kind of article! Please pack away your guns and your feminism and enjoy what these men appreciate about their spouses.

1. She is organized – Not all men are a mess. Some guys are fastidious. But others of us rely on the organization of our spouses to keep us from being a heaping mess. Wives, if your husband is the kind of guy who needs you to be organized don’t fight it. Embrace it. And know that we really do appreciate the fact that one of us has it together. Men, don’t use this as an excuse to be a slob. She’s not your momma, she’s your wife.

2. Takes good care of the kids – I hate to play into gender stereotypes…but here I go. Obviously it’s not true for all couples, but in my marriage (and for other couples I know) the wife is a better nurturer and caretaker than the husband. For example, let’s talk about puke. When my kids are feeling crummy and start to vomit my wife will be in the thick of it (pun definitely intended). I’ve seen her throw out her hand to catch barf before it can hit other stuff. o_O That is SO not me. Men appreciate the kind of care our wives provide for the kids.

3. Takes care of me when I’m sick – Similar to above, we appreciate it when our wives care for us in our sickness. Honestly, when I’m sick I’m a bigger baby than my kids are. The whole world shuts down when I get the flu. And there she is, bringing me toast, hot tea, medicine, whatever I need.

4. Puts me and the kids first – I’m sure there are plenty of women who are total jerks, but I daily see wives and moms put their families first. It’s an incredible trait that more of us should have. We appreciate it.

5. Gives me space and freedom with my friends – Some of the men in our group felt the need to spend “time with the guys” and appreciated it when their spouses gave them space to do that.

6. Cooks good meals – I’m reminded of the Carl’s Jr./Hardees commercial:



7. Thinks of others before herself
– This is nearly identical to number 4, but someone wanted to reiterate it 😉

8. She’s a great cleaner – Last but not least, one of our guys wanted to share how much he appreciated his wife cleaning the house. While this is an admirable trait, this is not excuse for us to be slobs, men!

Well, there you have it. It’s what our class came up with. You want a healthy and happy marriage? Put in the work to make it that way.

How about you? What else would you add to this list?

If you be so inclined, give me a follow:

YOU YOUNG WHIPPERSNAPPER!

Curmudgeon

Have you ever had that job that was simply the toughest job you’ve ever had to deal with?

For me that’s parenting. HARD! There’s the constant battling over little, itty-bitty things. Things like simply putting on appropriate clothing.

 

But all kidding aside, the Bible puts responsibility for training kids squarely upon our shoulders. Parents are told to train their kids in God’s ways, to talk about it in the home, on the road, everywhere. The Bible points out that if you do the right things when the kids are young they won’t stray far as adults.

Keep in mind that this is NOT a promise from God. Sometimes parents do everything right and kids still choose the wrong paths. But there is a general principle – a truism – that says when we instill things in our kids then those things will stay with them.

One of my favorite folk songs is Teach Your Children, recorded by Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by.
And so, become yourself, because the past, is just a good bye.
Teach, your children well, their father’s hell, did slowly go by,
And feed, them on your dreams, the one they picked, the one you’re known by.

One thing we want our children to learn and care about is their education (spiritual and secular). So we talk about things at the dinner table. We ask what they’ve been talking about in Sunday School. We ask about spelling tests, books they’ve read – stuff like that.

We’ve found that turning learning into a game has worked really well. For example, we play a game called “First Letters.” We pick a letter of the alphabet. Then we go around the table clockwise and each person has to come up with word beginning with that letter (kids can come up with anything, parents have to come up with a word with at least 3 syllables).

Simple, but it is a fun way to talk about words and learning.

All said and done, school and church can only do so much to train kids. It’s really up to us: the parents (and also relatives, friends, and church families). When we engage kids in their learning they’ve got a much better shot of holding onto it as they grow up.

And for faith and for facts, this is a good thing.

Sound off! How have you helped kids engage in learning (sacred or secular)?

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