So here goes part 3 of my “oddly conservative” blog series. What I find interesting about this so far is the amount of input I have gotten from a crowd I have not heard from before. I enjoy being a free thinker/free believer and stretching…wrestling…debating theological issues. All you have to do is hang out with me for a bit and you will find this out. I really don’t get offended by a whole lot, especially other people’s opinions or doctrinal beliefs. In fact I welcome it because I may learn something along with the way. I have to be careful though because though I label myself as one...even free thinkers/free believers can be some of the most close minded people. If your experience does not align with theirs and you still see the cup as half full...you are in trouble. I will say that sadly those who have had nothing but good experiences or hide the bad ones can come across as pompous and arrogant which drives me nuts.
The thing that I see quite a bit since I was a youth pastor beginning in 1995 is the after school activities ramping up. Do you remember when soccer and other sports NEVER met on Wednesday nights? If you do you might even remember when stores were closed on Sundays. This is where I become “old school” and again…it is my opinion.
Growing up in church, I along with many friends from my church…it was never an option to miss either a Sunday or Wednesday night program (Royal Rangers, Youth Group, Awana, etc.) due to extracurricular activities. To be honest with you my Dad never gave us an option. Again...it was a lifestyle not a weekly decision. Anything I or other kids wanted to sign up for pertaining to school had to run through the filter of “will it interfere with church activities?” Kind of like the question most youth pastors ask when a teen tells him/her they are dating, "Is he/she a Christian?" If it did interfere then the parents would talk to the coach and ask if something could be worked out. If not…then plain and simple we were not involved with it. It was not because “that sport is evil because it pulls you away from church” it was simply because parents wanted their kids in church. In my own experience and many of my friends on Facebook we found it to be a great experience. I never did want to miss youth group…I wouldn’t have mind missing a few morning services but even Sunday night church was fun.
So why am I such a stick in the mud when it comes to parents getting their kids to come to church? Again…I say church but however that looks for you is what’s important (home fellowship group, etc.). The reason why is that I remember being 14 or 15 and thinking when I get my license and car…church will be the last place you will find me. However…thanks to my parents who were willing to be hated by me, and some very cool youth pastors and senior pastor (still at Poplar Creek Church) I never wanted to leave. The fact of the matter is I was ticked when I had to miss as I became 18 and began to work full time. If it was not for those guidelines in my life (though some may say were legalistic) I can say I would not be where I am today because of it. I was able to weather two horrific storms in church politics as a pastor. I am able to come alongside other hurting people in the church and help them find hope. Trust me when I say, If my parents did not at times MAKE me come to church, I would not have gone and probably would not be where I am today.
I believe it is healthy for parents to setup boundaries. I dealt with many teens in youth group and speaking engagements where there are no boundaries. As one person said, "a river without boundaries is just a swamp." Will boundaries solve everything? Nope. I would like to believe though that they would certainly curtail the number of Christian drop-outs however. I can only pray that I raise my kids the same way and when those teen years come…I can be as cool with them as my parents were with me and that they stick to it.