Christian Living family

Helping our kids love church, again

The reason I hate church is that you pay attention to everyone else there but us.” ~ Megan, age 7

Those words rattled my soul. I’d rather have gotten cold-cocked by Mike Tyson in a bar fight than heard those words. That’s when I knew that things had to drastically change in how both how I related to my family and serving the church.

Every time I volunteered somewhere or went to a meeting it lead to fights with the kids. “You don’t love us you only love stuff at church!

Their anger lead to my tears.

Here’s what I wrote last October in a post, “When your kids hate church“:

Yesterday, I sat in the car with a child who refused to participate. Not all Sunday’s are like that. But sometimes the feet literally stop moving and the tears start flowing. It’s hard to look in your child’s eyes and see them tearfully say “please don’t make me go,” and then force them to go.

I can’t stomach it. That is, clearly, not the type of relational connection I want my children to have with Jesus.

Read the rest

That post lead to an impossible number of conversations with friends in ministry. By sharing my pain and acknowledging that one of my darkest fears had become my reality I connected with others who serve in full-time ministry and find themselves in similar situations.

Of all of those conversations I had a single phrase spoken stuck out to me. Paraphrasing what she said, I’ve probably added to it: (not accusing just thinking out loud)

“I wonder if you’ve laid your children on the alter of your own ideals and put them into impossible situations? They go to a school you have chosen for them which meets all of your ideals for living in the city, they go to a church you have chosen for them meeting the ideals for you living in the city. They walk a mile in your shoes every day and never get a break.”

Dear Jesus, this was true. It cut past the niceties right to the bone.

So we made some changes. Kristen and I have worked on it. And, on our road to recovery, we have seen some moments when our kids love Jesus and His church. Last night was one of those moments as Paul brought his Bible and a little devotional thing from church to do as a bedtime activity with mom. That totally made me cry!

Some other waypoints on this path have included…

  • Praying with and for our kids.
  • Inviting them in to freely sit in on stuff we are doing and to ask questions. Usually, this has been Megan.
  • Putting our family as the priority over our beloved community group when Jackson was born. (We’ll rejoin them this Fall)
  • Being joyful as we made a transition from one congregation to another, in part, based on their feedback.
  • Experiencing Lent together seemed like a turning point. (Kinesthetic learning is perfect for them)
  • Awana, as much as I’ve lamented about it for years as a leader, has been a gift to them as they’ve gotten more familiar with the Bible and how to use it. (A free date night each week for mom/dad has been good for our marriage as a bi-product!)
  • Moments with each kid when they said, “Daddy, remember when you were in charge of that stuff at church? I liked it when you did that. It would be fun for you to do that again. You were good at it. I miss that.
  • Eagerly signing up and bugging us about details of summer fun camp.

Like any hurt or injury it’s a long process. The quote above is from 2008– we’ve been at this for 1/3 of her life. We haven’t arrived and we still have some very difficult things to work through. And I don’t know if they will ever love the Bride of Christ like I do. But I’m happy to see progress.

It brings me deep joy to begin to see how Jesus is bridging the gap and building a relationship with my children in a way that isn’t forced, coerced, or built on expectations from mom or dad.

O, what a day that will be!

youth ministry

UPDATE: Praying for Walt Mueller

Back on August 6th, I asked blog readers to join me in prayer for Walt Mueller. While preparing for a bike ride to raise money for CPYU, he was involved in a nasty spill which left him with a whole myriad of serious injuries.

To the glory of God many of those prayers have been answered!

Thank you for petitioning the Father on Walt’s behalf.

From time to time we’ve exchanged notes or I’ve heard the latest from his longtime friend and my co-worker, Tic. As you’d expect, recovery for such injuries takes a while. Today I asked him how it was going, here was his response.

Overall, feeling and moving better. In fact, if you saw me you might not know that anything happened other than the fact that moving and getting up and down is difficult and sometimes slow due to ongoing soreness and stiffness. I’ve got a couple of bones that are displaced and will remain that way, but that’s ok. They say my body will adapt. Pain is dissipating. Ribs and shoulder are sore. My physical therapist says my shoulder has full mobility. Only thing is, that’s when she moves it, not me. I had to laugh today when she had me laying on a table and handed me a cane with a five pound ankle weight hanging on it. . . and then asked me to bench press it 20 times! 5 pounds! It’s all heading in the right direction though. I’m praying the following: 1) that pain and soreness would all disappear, for good, 2) that my back, which started hurting a week ago, would heal. Again, this is all due to the trauma and changes in my body, that my back is now compensating for, 3) that my ability to sleep would return. Getting comfortable in bed is hard 4) that the damaged nerves would repair themselves and I would regain feeling in the spots that got hammered when I hit the concrete. It’s been 8 weeks today. . . I am grateful to God that I wasn’t hurt worse and that He has made the body to heal in some amazing ways. This time 8 weeks ago I was happy to be alive.

4 ways you can pray for Walt’s continued recovery.

  1. Healing of his body.
  2. Healing of his mind.
  3. Pray for his family.
  4. Pray for CPYU.

Lastly– the whole reason Walt was training was to help raise some money for some big technology needs at his ministry. If you’d like to learn more about how to help CPYU financially, check out this link.


Amidst the Rubble I Found Hope

It’s hard to believe that its been 6 weeks since we witnessed this outpouring of faith. In some ways it seems like I just got back yesterday and in other ways its as if it was several months ago.

When people ask me about my time in Haiti I always try to proclaim this simple truth: It wasn’t what I would have expected. I expected to see mourning and anger towards God. Instead I saw rejoicing and people giving their hearts to God in a way I never thought I would experience.

Two reasons you should go to Haiti:

  1. God is using the church to feed, clothe, and shelter the masses. In the U.S. we aspire to see our churches be a place like in the book of Acts. Well, its happening in exactly that fashion just a few hours south of our border. God doesn’t need you to go so you can feed His people, but He would love it if you would participate in what He is doing.
  2. The Holy Spirit is moving. Its hard  to shape into words what that looks and feels like. While I went to serve with open hands I was shocked to see that God brought me into the midst of a great humanitarian disaster to show me His glory. Amidst the rubble we found hope. Buried beneath the houses and building was the past. And what remained was people left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. At first it disturbed me, “Why aren’t they trying to make a shelter or create something?” Because instantly a nation knew that God is their provider, he is their protector, He is their shelter.

If only I had faith like that. Maybe mountains would move? Maybe relationships would be restored? Maybe God would pour out His Spirit in the same way?