Guilt Driven Spiritual Formation

September 28, 2013

Lately I have been noticing a couple of posts circulating around FB/Twitter. These posts generally make me roll my eyes and at the worst give me something to complain about. I am sure you have seen them too.

The Mom and church posts.

You know…the posts about how great it is when you take your kids to church, even when you are tired, even when they are all under the age of three.


To my Protestant friends we are not talking about bringing your kids to church so they can go to kids church while you go to service. We are talking about high church services where there is often no kids service.

I normally don’t get so riled up about an idea like this. I am all for kids being in church. I still remember my Sunday School teachers in fifth grade and how special and loved they made me feel. How they showed me the love of Christ, just by expressing their excitement that I came every week. Through those relationships I learned to LOVE church. I continued to meet people who expressed Christ to me through relationship as I grew within the church.

I guess my strong reaction isn’t to the idea of having kids in church. It’s putting the sole responsibility of these kids on their parents, specifically on moms.

Hear me out.

I realize that Waylon and I are responsible for our kids’ spirituality. However, without all the moms, dads, sisters, brothers, at church I would NOT be the Christian I am today. Church is supposed to be a community of believers who all take responsibility for raising our children in the faith.

Because let’s be honest. Mom’s who have kids under the age of three are going to have a hell of a time nurturing their own spirituality within service if they have to keep their kids quite, still, behaved, and from running up on the alter to knock everything over. Mom’s have gotten their kids up, fed them breakfast, wrestled “church clothes” on their kids, packed the diaper full of toys/snacks, and then in the middle of service they have to walk out of service because their 15 month old wants to go run up and explore and is throwing a massive tantrum.

I react strongly to all the church posts lately because our Moms and Dads are working really hard during the week to not only teach their children how to live life well, love well, and to be kind. When I read posts that “praise” moms for bringing kids to church because they need to be there I really read a nice think GUILT TRIP.

And to be honest, this issue could be solely mine to struggle with, but when I see these posts I feel guilty that I do not look forward to church. I feel guilty for wanting to just stay home, because I am super aware that my high energy 15 month old will maybe make it thirty minutes if I am lucky, and then will see something interesting and will fight tooth and nail to try and get whatever he sees. It then ends in the high pitched scream that has been trending in our house lately, followed by some good kicks,  and a good old fashion tantrum. And I only have ONE child.  I couldn’t imagine having more than one under three.

To be honest, I would rather stay home. Because I cannot be present at church when I have to watch my own child. Especially when I already feel the strong emotion of guilt. Guilt is a wonderful emotion for the Devil to use to keep people from the Bride of Christ. And, when the church itself reinforces this guilt we are doomed in our effort of  spiritual formation for our families.

For my Episcopalian friends, if you do have new families that come to church and you do not have a nursery for the littles, or a children’s church you will have a really hard time trying to get those young families back into church. Moms and dads do not want to watch their own children in church.

And I get it, well they should just be mature enough to deal with it, right? Wrong. We should not be expecting people who walk into our church to be already mature in their faith. The church should be mature enough to realize that our young parents need to be spiritually formed as well as our children, because our parents are the spiritual leaders that form our children during the week. When the church puts the sole responsibility of raising their children onto the parents alone we cutting our feet out from under us. We are not equipping people who are gifted with children, we are wearing our parents out, we are not spiritually forming our families, and in the worse case scenario we are letting the sin of guilt to run rampant.

My student minister in high school always said, “You are not the church of tomorrow, you are the church of today.

Remember that we are leaving a legacy to our children. We are giving them the faith that we have experienced first hand. We are the eye witness’ of our generation of God the Father’s working within our lives and in our world.

We are the ones “which have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us.” 1 John 1:1-3.

We have the responsibility to express redemption, grace, patience, prayer, and the free life of Christ, to our children, as a church. Please don’t let parents try to do this on their own. Partner with them to express the legacy of our faith. Not only will our parents grow within their spiritual formation, our children will get to take part in the stories of so many different Christian brothers and sisters.


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