I was recently approached by a dear friend and family member, who posed a question that took me by surprise.

"When are we going to realize that it is not the duty of the church to raise our children?" she asked.

Whoa. That's a loaded question, and I struggled to answer it. There are so many opinions out there on this subject, and many more theologically sound individuals could likely give a better answer than I could.  

Thankfully, my pastor has been teaching on this very thing recently and is bringing so much light to this subject. If we read Scripture and soak it in, taking it into the battlefield of parenting, we can glean great encouragement.

But I forewarn you: put on your steel-toed boots. Some toes will be stepped on today, mine included.

For starters, church is not meant to be a social club and entertainment center. Some churches treat worship as a time for crafts with popsicle sticks. Others treat it like a night at the movies, complete with bags of popcorn and Disney character photo ops. Still others treat it like a concert venue, complete with lights, camera, and action.

We tried all those things, thinking that mom and dad needed a break from the kids to spend time in a quiet service learning to take that teaching back home to pass along to our children. We discovered that we would all pile in the car after service with pangs of hanger, lack of attention, and a need for rest, promptly forgetting what each learned, Disney characters notwithstanding.

Instead, church is meant to be a time for intimate worship and reverence, a time for reading and learning the Scriptures together as a family, applying them to our lives and living them out. Children are very observant. They listen and watch more than you realize, and best place for them to learn is alongside their family in church and in the home.

Along with that, parents, not pastors or church leaders, are called to be the primary religious instructors in a child's life. Pastors and church leaders should certainly come alongside the family to support and shepherd them through this journey, but they are not called to raise our children.

The Father, the leader, guide, and protector of the family, carries the responsibility of teaching and leading his wife and children. When we pass these responsibilities solely to the church, we run the risk of planting misguided beliefs and a lack of personal faith in our children, causing them to go into the world and wash out.  

  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
    the fruit of the womb a reward.
 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
    are the children of one's youth.
 Blessed is the man
    who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
    when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127:3-5

So take your children into service with you. They will begin to listen and learn, understanding the sweet reverence of worship in God's house. There is nothing sweeter than the sound of babies in our sanctuary worshiping alongside their family. Learning Scripture and singing hymns together as a family creates the strong bond God intended from the beginning.

I'm not certified as a professional counselor or psychologist. I'm just a Christian wife, mom, and grandmother who often struggles with some of the same questions I'm asked. But I love to encourage and be a light for others. Because of this, I'm opening up this column for questions with which almost everyone wrestles. I pray this allows us to share our struggles and lift one another's burdens.

I pray each of you has a blessed week, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Ashley Carter is a wife, mother, and grandmother living in Elmore County, where she and her husband run Farm to Table Living and Carter Farms. Ashley serves as Controller and Executive Assistant at 1819 News. She is currently working on an inspirational book of short stories. To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email ashley.carter@1819news.com.

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