Last night was parenting night at CCB. This year we’ve gone for a couple of Monday evenings given over especially to the responsibility of raising our kids. The local Starbucks have been hugely accommodating; giving us exclusive use of their facilities. They’re community minded but also commercially savvy. We put a bit behind the bar but I’m pretty sure we didn’t cover the costs of the overtime wages of the staff. But we greatly appreciate their willingness to let us have ‘after hours’ use of the building. Balham Starbucks is glass fronted and so we were all on display to the passers-by coming home from the station or on their way out of Sainsbury’s. I like to think we created a positive image for the local church!
In the past we’ve run a parenting course. I did three morning sermons sortly after we launched morning church. And the wonderful Ann Benton (of Aren’t They Lovely When They’re Asleep fame) came and took three sessions on three consecutive Wednesday nights a couple of years ago. But we reckon we’re currently at a stage where we benefit most from a constant drip effect throughout the year rather than an intense dump! That won’t always be the case but it seems to be at the moment.
Our forays into parenting courses or parenting nights haven’t really worked for us evangelistically. So we’ve not gone for that. These evenings are more about helping the church family think through their parenting from a Christian perspective. Outsiders are always welcome, of course, but they need to know where we’re coming from.
Last night Alison Mitchell, the Good Book Company’s children’s Books guru, came and led a session about how to teach our kids. She was terrific. She got the balance between input and allowing us to discuss things as a couple or with friends just right. It meant you could ‘land’ what she was saying and think about how it worked in your own family. At CCB we have pre-school and primary school aged children at the moment. But even amongst that small age range there’s a variety of ways of doing things. Alison couldn’t hope to cover each of our own circumstances. So she didn’t try. But what she gave us was principles and ideas and then left us to work out how that would work out in our own family situations. It was her input on answering questions and reading the Bible with the kids that I appreciated most.
But it was the stuff on partnering with the chidlren’s workers that got me thinking. I”ve heard it before. But I often forget it. Parents often adopt the default position of ‘outsourcing’ the spiritual education of their kids to the Sunday School. We do it with their secular education. So you can see why we unthinkingly adopt that approach. We forget that the Bible puts the primary responsibility on parents and especially fathers to provide a Christian education for their kids. I’m hugely appreciative of all the hard work that goes into Christ Church Kids, the CCB Sunday School. But I’m not sure that Rosslyn and I make the most of that partnership. The kids get lots of input but the number of neglected Sunday School worksheets that we’ve collected over the years is enough to fill a couple of recycling bags! We don’t tend to build on what they’ve been doing at CCB. We’re just thrilled that they’re getting good input. And I comfort myself with the fact that the kids usually get an evening Bible story, the older two are now doing XTB and we often talk about the kids’ slot on a Sunday. But we need to think about building on what they’ve been doing in Christ Church Kids.
One other thing that hit me was that we don’t read the Bible as a family. And I think that needs to change. There’s not a hope we’ll manage it every day. There just aren’t enough hours in the day post-school for food, bath, homework, Bible story and anything else. We already do individual Bible story with each of the kids. And that’s not going to change. There’s a world of difference between what a five-year old and a nine-year old boy needs in terms of input. And so there’s real value in reading the Bible one-to-one. But there are occasions when we could read the Bible as a family? Undoubtedly. The first thought is holidays. We’re good at taking holidays. We tend to go away four times a year. It keeps me sane. And it keeps me in ministry. But that would be an ideal time to do something like Table Talk. Saturdays are also an option. Sunday isn’t. At breakfast time, I’m in the study just ‘polishing off’ the application of my third point. So I’m nowhere to be seen. At lunch we’ve got friends, usually from church over. And at supper I’m at evening church. But Saturday lunch might just work, once we’ve reconvened after our various morning activities. Or supper. That’s worth thinking about.What would it look like? Watch this video to find out.
The other thing I’m going to get hold of is Pete Woodcock’s retelling of Pilgrim’s Progress. We love audio CDs on car journeys. Just William is the current favourite, with appreciation most forthcoming from the driver’s seat! But the kids love it as well. But I wouldn’t know where to go for kids Christian fiction on CD. Anyone?