Stop Putting Your Kids In A Spiritual Bubble
I see so many posts about protecting our children from the sins of the world, or what could be considered a contributing factor to sins. I agree that they need to be protected. Most of you all know that we are a homeschool family and we believe strongly that God has called us to that. We also agree with the documentary “Indoctrination” and the decline in schools today. We are very particular about what shows are kids can watch, music they listen to, books they read, and activities they participate in. However, with that said, I am constantly seeing posts about not letting our kids have sleepovers, not allowing them to attend VBS because someone else may be teaching other than Mom and Dad, not letting kids go to camp. I am NOT beating down anyone’s decisions about this. We all have to follow the path that God has placed us on, but Mommas, what if you’re placing your kid in a spiritual bubble?
(After VBS one night—all my kids, my sis’s kids, and my BFF’s kids)
A spiritual bubble is impossible, right? Or is it possible?
I grew up in a different era, as we all did. My mother allowed sleepovers, but it had to be at houses where she knew the parents personally. She was very strict with who she allowed me to stay over night with. Actually, she was pretty strict about whose house she allowed me to even go play at.
My mom also let me attend VBS and never worried about what I was being taught or who was teaching me. We attended a small country church and many of the members were my neighbors. We were all very close. In fact, this is the same church that I am a member of today. I sometimes wonder if part of the reason parents are nervous about their kids attending church activities is because they don’t know the volunteers. I often wonder if some of these parents drop off their kiddos instead of interacting with their child’s youth leaders, and getting to know them well. Many families now are too busy to get to know each other as neighbors, so that would mean any chance of getting to know the members of the church are cut off as well. I also wonder if part of the reason parents worry about their kids being in activities at church is because so many churches now are HUGE mega churches. They are so large that it is almost impossible to build rapport with the leaders and volunteers who work with kids in mega churches at all. So I wonder – must we put our kids in a spiritual bubble? Or do we need to find a smaller church, or perhaps take time to get to know who our kids’ leaders are on a personal level?
(My BFF on the left, Me, My Sis on right)
I grew up attending church camp. I attended my first camp when I was 5 years old because my mom was a counselor. Technically, I had to be at least 9 years old to attend, but since my mom was volunteering, it was okay for me to go. Many church camps today are much the same way, although the ages may be different. I have the absolute best memories of church camp. I made friends and those friendships have lasted these many years. I witnessed many kids I attended camp with offer their life to Christ. One memory that I will never forget is of a girl who came to camp one year. She was a teenager and unsaved. My good friend, Bethany, was the daughter of the camp director that particular year. Her Dad spoke at church service and the girl went forward. It was a matter of days after church camp that she was killed in a car wreck. My friend’s dad continued as the camp director for many years after this tragic accident. When he spoke at the camps, he always shared this story. He would say look to your left and look to your right. Some of you all will not make it back next year. Don’t miss your chance to accept Jesus as your savior right now! Our church camp, while it had many fun times with water fights, practical jokes, and games, it was full of Jesus! From the moment you got there you felt closer to the Lord. The whole week was a time of reflecting and getting closer to God for those of us who were saved. However, there were also kids there who were not saved.
(My Oldest and ME at church camp this year)
(My handsome young man, oldest son at Church camp)
At our particular camp, we had many children from all walks of life. There were kids who had been sheltered; who had been exposed to things that no kid should have to see – EVER; who went to church faithfully each and every week; and those kids who may not have ever been to church – yet they were at camp. We sincerely and truly loved them all. I was not harmed from exposure to these children who came from many walks of life. I was in a safe environment with adults my mom totally trusted. Allowing me to attend camp was one of the best things my mom did for me spiritually. It was at camp that I saw life outside my bubble. I saw kids who hurt, kids who needed attention, kids who didn’t have a Bible so I gave them mine. I saw kids who didn’t have clothes-so I gave them some.
(Campfire—they said they needed someone old to lead songs, I ended up leading HA!)
(For many years my Sis and I sang in church. This picture is us and my niece!)
As a child attending and participating in these different youth activities, I learned what it meant to go WITH someone to pray. I learned compassion as another child was feeling remorse from difficulties at home or school or whatever they were going through. I learned how to actually lead someone to Christ and was given many opportunities to do so. I learned the importance of servitude – service to the community and service to the church. As a 16-year-old sophomore in high school, I began my transition from camper to counselor. As an 18-year-old high school senior, my friend Bethany and I (with the help of a dear Pastor in our association) began planning the church camps. Church camp was when I embraced my love for singing. This was also the time we launched our platinum recording group (ha..wouldn’t that be nice!) “The TwelvePole Valley Girls.” I have so many fond memories of spending time and singing with these ladies. I cannot imagine how my life would be if I was not permitted to attend camp, or any of my youth activities for that matter. Some of my greatest Christian influences and mentors came from our little church camp. I am thankful to have had these Christian men and women in my life.
(Fishing with his friends at Church camp—so much fun!)
(My niece and I going to Chapel at Church Camp—love her so much!)
The torch has been passed to my children. This was my boys second year attending camp. Bookworm is now 10 years old. The difference between this year and last year is his maturity. In fact, he had matured so much that everyone was talking about how much different he was. It was at camp this year that the whole meaning behind these planned activities clicked for him. Sure, he knew what it was about last year, but this year it really hit him how powerful it was. He, too, learned that you don’t always go forward because YOU need to pray; you go forward because your friend who just went up needs your hand on them to know you care.
(My oldest in the orange—despite the aspergers etc, he LOVES camp and has made many Godly friends!)
(I learned to bear another’s burdens in this same way, on the far right in blue is my oldest his first year of camp. It is so precious to be a part of a prayer circle, it is even more precious to see your children “get it”)
Parents, Mommas, friends, please stop putting your children in a spiritual bubble. I do not think kids so young need so much pressure on them to be the “salt and light,” but how do they learn to do the Lord’s work if they are not around it and witnessing it first-hand? How do they learn to serve if they are not serving in ministry themselves? Kids going to a sleepover may be the very moment that they get to share the gospel one on one with a friend. I DO think you need to know the parents well and trust them before letting your child go, but I know from my experience at sleepovers that it is a wonderful time to talk and have those heart to heart moments. Attend a church and get to know the volunteers and leaders and allow your kids to attend VBS. This may mean you have to leave your “Six Flags Over Jesus” mega church and find a smaller church, or this may mean you find yourself volunteering to fill the important roles (FYI – every role is important). VBS is an excellent place to learn and grow in faith and see “hands and feet” working for the Lord. If it is at all possible and your church does a church camp, this will be the best experience your kids will have. Let them grow in the Lord. If you are nervous about it, volunteer and go with them—I challenge you to go!!! 🙂
( My niece and my youngest after church one night)
(My oldest and my nephew after church one evening! You may not want to ask about the broom—LOL!)
Most importantly, take your children to church. If you are a family who doesn’t go because of past hurts, please don’t think all churches are like that. Many of us have been hurt from past experiences (I know my husband and I have), but those experiences should make us stronger in the presence of the Lord. We are all sinners, but remember that Christ died for us. Scripture tells us to not forsake the assembly of one another. It also tells us No greater love then this, that a man would lay down his life for a friend. Going to church, connecting, getting to know one another so we can carry each others load, so we can learn to be a good friend is so important to us as adults; however, it is also important for our children, too.
(During my time as a camper I met many wonderful Godly leaders. I still keep in contact with many of them. However, it is Denny Brown who still helps with camp. I have attended the same camp longer then any other camper, this guy gets second BUT he is a first class Pastor, Godly man, Coal miner, and dear friend of our family.)
(I grew up attending this same church all through my childhood!)
I understand that we must practice caution and protecting our little ones is at the top of our list of priorities. They are precious gifts from God entrusted to us for a short time. We must pray and ask God to lead us in decisions for our babies that will honor Him and bring Him glory. We also have to follow the convictions that God has placed on our hearts and family.
However, are those convictions given to us through prayer, or are those convictions we have placed upon ourselves to protect our children? Are we putting them in a Spiritual Bubble and doing them more harm than good?
(I love this picture of my mom and I, from the clutter on the floor, to the old brown couch, to our clothes. I am so glad my mom made sure I was in church, that I was surrounded my Godly friends and activities, and that she let me spread my wings within the confines of church)