Christian Faith Family & Parenting Gifted & 2e Relaxed Homeschooling

Discipling Children in Christ Outside the Box

Discipling Children in Christ Outside the Box 2

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Last year I wrote a series of posts called Raising Gifted Children in the Christian Faith (first post here and all posts here). If you haven’t read that series, I encourage you to read it first because this post about discipling children will make much more sense in that context.

In this post, I’m talking about the Christian faith outside the box.  I recognize that this post is going to make some Christians reading it uncomfortable. I understand that. But I also believe this post is going to be incredibly freeing for some Christian parents, especially some of those with gifted or 2e children. Also please know that this post wasn’t written on a whim or off the cuff. It’s the results of years of wrestling with these issues.

Full of Faith But No Church

My faith in Christ is central to my life, brings joy and meaning to my life, and drives the choices I make. God has done amazing things in my life. I find the Bible an incredible book full of riches for those who are willing to come to it in faith and do the work of studying and mining out those truths. But as I wrote in my previous series, we have struggled as a family to find a way to make church work for us. And by church I mean showing up at a building on Sunday. Even if we are not in a church building each week, I am confident in our place in the body of Christ, the Church. (There are other issues that have impacted our struggle to attend such as my health issues and the issue of women in the church which I discuss on another website I have – A Woman’s Freedom in Christ.) But really since Caroline’s birth, church attendance has not worked for us except in a few scattered periods.

The lack of church attendance in our lives has been troubling for me on a number of levels. It troubles me because we don’t have a community of believers to participate with on a regular basis. It troubles me as a parent wanting to raise my child in Christian community. In fact, I would say that the “need” to raise Caroline “in a church” has been the last big issue I’ve dealt with on this journey.

The question I have asked myself over and over again is this: Can it truly be God’s best will for us as a family and for her as an individual to raise her outside of a traditional or institutional church?

Many times over the past few years I’ve told God, “God, I want to be in a church if you want us in a church. Just show me where it is. If we’re wrong, show us.” I know the joy and blessing of being where He puts me. I don’t want to miss out on that. I know that I am not responsible for my child’s salvation, but I also don’t want to be a stumbling block to her faith. But month after month and now year after year there has been nothing to move us in that direction even though we’ve tried on numerous occasions. In fact, I would say it has been just the opposite. We’ve had a growing conviction that God is moving us in a different direction and taking us on a different path than we would have expected.

Walking in God’s Love Outside Church Structures

Last week someone shared a link to the following two videos and it was like it all came together. The speaker even addressed my questions about children in Sunday School and church which I was not expecting at all when I started watching. In these videos, Wayne Jacobsen presents the story of how God drew him out of the institutional church after being a pastor and set him on a different path of walking with God. You will need to listen to both parts to get the full picture.

What was striking to me as I listened is how well this understanding of walking with God dovetails with the two views of homeschooling I have repeatedly found myself gravitating toward for Caroline – Charlotte Mason and unschooling. Those two views come together in our home in a form of relaxed homeschooling. Neither Charlotte Mason nor unschooling alone fully expresses for me the fullness of how I see God working in the life of my child, but somehow the intersection of the two does.

I appreciate the fact that Jacobsen does not insist that this is the only way to faithfully walk with God. He recognizes that traditional church structures do work for some people (as do I). But as I think of the parents of gifted/2e children who struggle to make church “work” for their family, I see that this is a real and authentic way to disciple our children in Christ.

It also fits so well with families who homeschool outside the box because it is rather like walking with Christ outside the box. It’s real, it’s authentic, and it’s meaningful, but it’s not going to be completely understood by many who are perfectly happy within traditional structures whether they are schools or churches.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these videos in the comments below and how this might play out in your own family’s faith walk with Christ.

Learning to Live Loved: An Interview with Wayne Jacobsen, Part 1 of 2 from Wayne Jacobsen on Vimeo.

Learning to Live Loved Part 2 of 2 from Wayne Jacobsen on Vimeo.

6 Comments

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  • Wow Sallie, thank you for posting your thoughts and these videos. A lot to digest, but it certainly gave an external voice to some of the things I couldn’t articulate. Tara.

    • You are welcome, Tara. I’m glad you found them helpful. It is a lot to digest. For me, it was kind of the thing that tied it all together at the end of a long journey. For others, it might be a starting point on their journey. Even if someone is happy in a traditional church setting, it might help them understand the longings of their friend who isn’t.

      Sallie

  • Thank you for sharing your position. I am curious. (And there is no judgement in this question at all.) What do you do with Hebrews 10:24,25 that talk about worshiping in fellowship with other believers? I know people use those verses to support institutional church.

    • Hi Libi,

      Thanks for your comment! A couple of thoughts…

      One, he does address this somewhat in the videos so I would encourage you to watch those.

      Second, what we see as “church” today was not how the church gathered for a long time. We certainly need to be in fellowship with other believers, but what does that look like? What does that mean? We have it so programmed into our thinking that church has to be a building on Sunday morning with a professional clergy speaking to us. That’s not what the church was in the early days.

      It’s a lot to process. I’ve been peeling back the layers for a number of years. It makes you think about what does the Bible really teach about authority? What do we believe about the priesthood of all believers? What is the Church? What is fellowship? Is Christian fellowship really sitting in a pew every week and showing up at small group once or twice a month?

      What does it mean to really walk with God? Have we replaced a rich walk with God in real fellowship with Him with being in a building on Sunday?

      So many questions that snowball once you start thinking about these issues.

      Then it leads to… How do I best raise my gifted/2e child to know and love God? Is institutional church truly the best way for her to develop a walk with God?

      Just some thoughts to ponder. 🙂

  • Oh so very much to ponder. Thank you Sallie. I have been involved in home churches, fellowship groups, traditional denominational churches, non- denominational churches, and the list goes on. I now attend a traditional church with my husband and our two children. Our children are teenagers and love the church, youth group activities, prayer groups and bible studies. I am so very grateful for this. In all honesty and perhaps with a bit of guilt – I attend our church for them. I am pondering what we will do once they are in college and out of the house. I love the Lord and I can trust Him to lead and guide.

  • Sallie, I love this article and the thoughts and questions you have had to consider that you mentioned in the comment above. I have learned so much in the last years about what I believe, what I no longer believe and more about our loving and relational Father. I am being freed from actions that are motivated by guilt, obligation, tradition and religious ideas. When it comes to homeschool, we have gone from traditional styled schooling to what I felt the Lord was telling me to do… Faith schooling (or what some would call unschooling or delight directed learning). I am wondering if the next step in our journey is “unchurching.” At this moment we live with my elderly mother and she lives for Sunday morning church, but when she has passed, I think this maybe the next path we follow in our pursuit of relational living with the Lord and others. My husband hasn’t been to church in years and it is a battle to get my kids there each week as neither really want to go. I believe there must be a better way.

Welcome!

Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

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