We go to church every Sunday. I volunteer with the nursery and our Vacation Bible School. My husband works on computers and with our summer camp committee. I help lead our young adult ministry, Doodle begs to attend youth group and the young ladies Bible Study group, our kids have a few bibles hanging out around the house.
So when I tell people I don’t intend to raise my kids to be Christians like me, they look at me awkwardly. They usually take it to mean I don’t want to raise my kids to believe in Christ-and that’s not correct. I pray everyday that they choose to believe, they have faith in the Word and we raise them to be loving, caring individuals with the Bible as their foundation. I would love to someday have 6(maybe more!) Christians coming over for Christmas Eve mass and Sunday dinners after church. I want to raise them up to be Christlike, I would love to raise them to be Christians-but I don’t want them to be Christians like me.
Well first, I am not a great Christian. I try my hardest to love like Jesus, to hang on to grace, and the cross. I am active in the church. But I am also not a great Christian. My kids sometimes see me get angry. They’ve heard me talk negatively about others, they’ve seen my temper flare, they know I struggle sometimes with having faith in the hardest of times. Despite not doing it often online, I swear sometimes, I have been petty, and I can be pretty biting if you make me mad. I don’t want them to be like me. I want them to strive to be Christlike, as I do everyday, not to be striving towards being “Lauren trying to be like Christ”-like. Lauren fails. I do, I’m not saying this out of shame, I’m saying it because I am human and therefore flawed. My children will fail as well. I want them to fail in their own way, while chasing Christ.
Christ never fails.
I also don’t want my kids to look a me and believe that is the kind of Christian they should be. I believe, whole-heartedly, that being a Christian begins with a relationship with Jesus and an understanding in the Word. I also believe that to each person, that will look different. I tell my kids often, that just because we believe a specific thing doesn’t mean that they have to believe it. Just because our church believe something, doesn’t mean they have to blindly believe it either.
I want them to explore, learn, challenge, and grow in their faith every time they open their bible or attend a group.
I encourage my children to question what they aren’t sure of when it’s presented to them. I want them to do this for every aspect of their life. Becoming a Christian isn’t about following your parents beliefs blindly. I don’t think it should be. Like I encourage them to establish their own food preferences, political thoughts, and television show enjoyments, I encourage them to establish their own beliefs within Christianity. I want them to delve into the Bible, study faith based texts, bring history and science and anything else into their religious findings.
I know some people may not love this approach. “But you know better than them!”
We may. Or we may not. I have learned so much from younger Christians, newer Christians, less “mature” Christians. A close friend of mine has challenged a lot of my thoughts and provoked change in me-and she wasn’t raised Christian and only recently became one!
“But if you don’t raise them to follow your beliefs, won’t they stray from the faith?”
Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. I was raised by CEO’s(Christmas and Easter Only) church goers. My parents exemplify Christlike behavior, but I can honestly count on one hand the number of times they’ve been to church in the past year. That hasn’t changed my thirst for a church community or my want to raise my kids immersed in it. I was also raised Methodist. When I was in college, I essentially walked away from my faith. When I came back I found my new church home at a Baptist church and chose to be baptized into it.
As an adult, they will be able to find their place. They will demand that chance. Maybe it won’t be in the church, maybe it will be in a different church, maybe they will stay in our church forever. I want them to know Jesus. Beyond that, I want them to gather their own faith and have the chance to define it from early childhood on.
I hope to raise my children to share the belief in Christ, because I want them to experience the beauty, love, and amazing life I have found through Jesus. But I don’t hope to raise them to be Christians like me. I want them to be their own kind of Christians, based on what they find in the Bible and on their own journeys to God.