I volunteered at Liam’s school before Christmas and one of the moms in the class recognized me from church. She immediately asked me which child belonged to me…. Liam.
After church a few weeks ago, I came into pick up Liam from small group. As I walked over to the group, a boy turned to him and said, “That’s your DAD?! But he’s the guy on stage!” Liam sort of smiled, sort of shrugged, said yes. He grabbed his God-time card and walked out with me.
Recently while preparing a storytelling lesson for Discovery Village, I realized something. I was planning on using a personal example that included Liam as a key character in the story. All of the sudden it dawned on me, “I can’t use this story. Liam is in the room!”
Back when I made this choice to work in a church, I’m not sure it really occurred to me that my kids might grow up under a microscope, or at the very least (?) a spotlight. I’d love to protect them from this, but being that I’m stage a lot, it’s inevitable that people will look to me and ultimately to them to see if I smoke what I sell.
I hope my kids grow up to love the Church as much as I do, but I can’t guarantee that. I can nurture them, but I can’t force them. I can pray for them, A LOT, and ask for God’s hand upon their life.
I want to protect them from feeling any obligation to be cute on stage or be the example when I need a good anecdote about a …ahem… well behaved, wise-choice-making kid. (Sarcasm?)
I want them to have every opportunity to explore faith as they need to. I pray for them to have great relationships with their small group leaders and for them to know that I’m not eavesdropping on them when I’m checking things out in the back of the room.
And though we know it will be different to some degree, we want for their church experience to be as much like their friends’ as possible.
How we’re working at it…
We’ve got lots to learn here I’m sure, but we’re trying…
Jenna and I have started to create some rhythms about how we talk about church vs. work. I go to work; we attend church. Sure, this is a fine line, but they’re starting to get that there is a difference. I try and keep them from having to follow me around as I do “work church.” Only if it is absolutely necessary will they have to stay for all services on a given weekend. And on some occasions we’ve actually let them stay home (shocking!).
I’ve been trying to bring home as little work as possible. I don’t want my kids to feel like church orphans, that the church is all I’m ever concerned about. I’ve been trying not even to open my computer in the evenings.
I don’t just assume I can pick them up without security tags. I stand in line and wait with the rest of the families. (Most of the time…) I don’t want them to think they get perks for being staff kids. (Even though we all know they do…)
We attempt real faith conversations at home as they come up not under our agenda. They’ve got tons of questions on their own (especially Ellison for some reason). We pray and invite them into those prayers as well.
How about you?
Those of you who work or volunteer at a church, what do you do? There’s a long road ahead of us here, and we’ve still got lots to learn.
P.S. Craig Groeschel (teaching pastor at LifeChurch.tv) wrote a great article on the Swerve Blog. If you’re raising kids while you’re in ministry, staff or volunteer, this is a great resource. Check it out: here.