Extra-curricular activities for young children are a relatively recent development. A few decades ago, a handful of kids might have played ball, taken music or dance lessons or been in scouts. At the most though, you had something to do one or two afternoons a week for an hour or less. Boy have things changed!
Today’s children- even very young ones- have scheduling calendars to rival the most successful business person’s. Every minute of every day is scheduled tightly – from the moment they wake up in the morning until their head hits the pillow way too late at night. Dozens of books and articles have been written warning of the dangers of over scheduling your children.
The article I haven’t read is the one addressing perhaps the most serious consequence of all – somewhere along the line, God becomes just another extra-curricular activity. Don’t believe me? Ask the average parent how they would handle things if an important ball game or competition conflicted with Sunday worship. What would they do if a group scheduled an exciting outing that meant their child had to miss worship? What if their child were chosen for an exclusive team which required them missing worship service for multiple weeks in a row?
If you listen to most parents carefully, it quickly becomes clear God and the other activities are considered equally important. In many Christian families, you may also realize the extra-curricular activity is actually considered to be more important than spending time worshipping God.
I know many of you are justifying the choice under the “once in a lifetime” clause or saying you have a short devo or by accusing me of being legalistic. Please understand, I realize sometimes worship can be skipped and it doesn’t mean God is no longer first. I understand “house” church can take the place of worship from time to time. I absolutely don’t think worship is some item on a checklist to separate “good” Christians from “bad” ones.
What I do know is that worshipping God should be seen as the most important thing your family does each week. It should be considered a privilege to be able to live where you can openly praise and worship God without the fear of being murdered. It should be something your family looks forward to every Sunday and is upset when they have to miss.
Remember the little exercise where you try to fit rocks of different sizes and sand in a jar? If you recall, the only way it works is if you put the largest rock in first and gradually add the smaller and smaller ones. The point is your life should be like that.
God always needs to be the first thing in your jar. Your children need to absolutely understand why God should be the first thing in their jar also. You need to train them that God is always in the jar and is always first in the jar. If that means something else doesn’t fit, then that is perfectly fine.
Your children need to be taught that putting God in the jar first does not just mean going to Church on Sunday mornings. It means making all of their decisions by filtering them through God’s principles and commands. It means showing others God’s love by serving them and sharing their faith. It means handling their finances so their giving reflects an understanding all of their blessings come from God and are willingly and generously given back to God. Ultimately, God needs to be front and center in everything your child does. Period.
The next time your child appears to have a scheduling conflict with God, have a family discussion. Is God becoming an extra-curricular activity in your family? Or is God the very foundation of your family? What does your family need to change to put God where He belongs again? Making those changes will make more of a difference than you can even imagine.