Helping Our Children When Church Life Gets Messy

Helping Children When Church Life Gets Messy

I love the church, and I am so blessed that my family has had the great privilege of living in community with hundreds of godly men and women over the years. In regards to my children, the local church loved, equipped, encouraged, and exhorted them in their walk with the Lord. They have received a wonderful spiritual legacy, as countless pastors, leaders, teachers, and members have exemplified a life of faith—displaying what it means to love, trust, and walk in obedience to Christ.

But we must also be prepared to help our children when church life gets “messy.” For example, suppose a professing Christian you have highly respected for years leaves the church and abandons the faith. Or maybe your church is in the midst of a conflict between members, evidenced by public gossip and slander. Or a much-loved couple teaching in your children’s in Sunday school announces they are separating. These kinds of situations can make an impression on our children’s hearts and minds…and sometimes that impression can seriously taint their understanding of the church, the Christian faith, and God. Therefore, parents and teachers need to be prepared to carefully guide our children in such a way that they will not be shaken by these events.

Helping Children When Church Life Gets MessyIn his book, The Disciple-Making Parent—A Comprehensive Guidebook for Raising Your Children to Love and Follow Jesus Christ Pastor Chap Bettis writes a helpful section on helping children handle hypocrisy and sin within the church. Here is a quick summary of his main points:

  • We can start by reminding children that Jesus predicted hypocrisy and worldliness in his church.
  • We can agree with our children that these things are wrong.
  • We can teach about the power of indwelling sin and the final judgment to sort everything out.
  • We can teach them that this sin reminds us of the great Savior we have.
  • We can teach them to forgive.

Please get the book and carefully read Pastor Bettis’ explanation of each point—the above summary does not do justice to this important topic he has covered! He concludes with this important reminder:

Community, with all its problems, is God’s gift to us. The positive examples provide balancing input. The not-so-positive examples provide teaching opportunities. The church is Jesus’ bride and the pillar and foundation of truth. With all her flaws, the church is dear to Christ and should be dear to any parents who want their child to follow the Lord as an adult.

(copyright©2016, pages 60-61)

Written by Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson

Jill Nelson is a wife, mother, grandmother, teacher and author. She has taught Sunday School for over 20 years and writes God-centered curriculum for Children Desiring God.

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