In the World, Not of It: The Christian Bubble
When we moved to Little Rock in 2010, I knew it would be easy to slip into the Bible Belt bubble. My husband’s job was with a Christian organization (FamilyLife), so surrounding ourselves with like-minded friends would be easy. Big, beautiful churches are within a few miles of our home, and I knew we could make great friends at church, too.
But is that all life is about—to be surrounding with fellow Christians and enjoy life? Deep inside I felt it wasn’t. How could I raise my child to believe the concept of “giving to the least of these” when I wasn’t making the effort to cross town and reach out?
We started by attending an inner-city church (mosaicchurch.net). We were surrounded by people who weren’t like us in many ways. I also began a support group for teenage mothers, and my town teens helped with it. My son Nathan was our door monitor, letting the young moms in. (Because of the area, we cannot leave the church doors unlocked). My daughter Leslie volunteered to babysit every week, and my toddler daughter, Alyssa, made quick friends with the other kids. Coming from Montana (and a church where most of the people were like us), we felt we were breaking out of the bubble big time . . . but was that enough?
When we go to church or the grocery store, we see homeless people and lower-income people on a daily basis. As we built relationships within the inner city, we realized it’s not about “us helping them”—we realized we’re all the same and Jesus loves us all. Making a point to spend time in the inner city has increased our compassion as we build friendships and discover that we can find amazing people no matter where we live.
But isn’t Our Job as Parents to Help Our Kids Stay Innocent?
Right now our kids at home are twenty, seven, four, and almost four-years-old, but two are out of the nest and living amazing lives. My older kids have been volunteering to help with teenage moms since they were elementary-school age. I remember when my daughter first started helping to babysit; she was only eight years old and heard all types of things come out of the mouths of the teen moms, like who was sleeping with whom, who had what disease, etc. At first I was horrified . . . my poor, innocent girl! Yet her questions about what she heard opened up amazing conversations about sexual purity, life choices, the way people are raised, economic poverty, etc.
Because of those conversations, my daughter became passionate about purity—after all she saw the consequences of sex outside of marriage. Just today I was talking via Skype to Leslie, who is on a two-month mission trip to the Czech Republic, and she told me she was asked to speak to a church youth group about sexual purity. You’ll never know how God will use your kids and how He’ll prepare them.
That being said, I have three young kids and I do my best to protect them. We do need to protect those little ears at times, especially during the ages when we can’t sit and have a long conversation about what they just heard.
But the Thought of Exposing My Kids Makes Me Nervous
Yes, anxiety comes when we expose our children to the hard things of life. As a parent, we want to protect our children. We want to keep them as innocent as we can, as long as possible. Yet we also must “go yet into the world.” (Isn’t that what Jesus commanded?) Needy, hurting people who need Christ are everywhere. The greatest example we can give our children of obeying Jesus is to show them people (who sometimes make bad choices and live hard lives) are different than us but that those people need to know about Jesus, too. It’s our job to tell them about Him!
As Christian parents, we don’t need to show our kids smut for smut’s sake. Instead, we need to point out people in need and show them that Jesus can transform anyone. Show them we can be the hands and feet of Jesus as we give, love, and serve.
Thank you for placing me in a world that needs your love. Bring me opportunities to break out of my normal pattern of living in order to show your love to the people that need it.
- In, But Not Of: A Guide to Christian Ambition and the Desire to Influence the World by Hugh Hewitt
- Blue Like Play Dough: The Shape of Motherhood in the Grip of God by Tricia Goyer
- Generation NeXt Parenting: A Savvy Parent’s Guide to Getting it Right by Tricia Goyer
- 3 Questions About Giving Every Parent Should Ask
- I’m Passionate About Teaching My Children Service to Others
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This is the flip side of what I wrote yesterday. It is why my kids go to public school and always have. I know they will see and hear things that are in and of the real world, but it provides conversation about how they should respond in their own lives or how to reach out.
Tricia Goyer says
I think it’s SO important for parents to be pro-active in helping their kids know how to act/react in the world…since they’ll be living in it! Great job!
Michelle Sarabia says
Love this Tricia! With four teenagers ourselves I get this message. I think if we can give our kids a solid foundation of who they are in Christ, we move them forward into a confidence they have themselves and for others.
Tricia Goyer says
Michelle, Amen!! I love that!
We don’t live in a big community (the nearest city is 2 hours away) but I think even in small towns you can find people who are different than you that still need Jesus. We live in a very “nice” community – meaning sometimes you can’t tell who is a Christian and who is just nice & attends church. It’s a culture here and I think it will be very challenging to teach my children the difference between being nice for reputation’s sake and being a real believer.
Tricia Goyer says
Randi, you’re right! Sometimes that’s a harder problem!
Sherri Wilson Johnson says
Tricia, this was a great post! So inspiring and challenging!
Tricia Goyer says
You’re welcome Sherri!
Cathy Z. Peek says
Tricia, I came upon this article on Pinterest. I literally love it! My heart is to minister to the least reached. I am a pastors wife, but was never satisfied within the walls of the church because the lost were on the outside. Your article encourages my heart and fuels my soul to keep doing what I’m doing. Many Blessings!