This is a post that’s been on my mind for a long time. I write it with humility and the willingness for you to disagree with me. But it’s something that I feel I can’t ignore.
Over the last 5 years of talking with students and parents about why they hadn’t been in youth group for a while one of the reasons that’s bugged me tremendously has been that they’ve been grounded. The grounding doesn’t bug me so much as the being grounded from church. Here is some of the thinking behind why I believe that we should never ground our kids from church.
First, Church simply becomes a bartering chip that we as parents play in order to enact some sort of punishment. If we expect this rising generation to view the community of Christ that they experience at this age as something that they simply can’t and shouldn’t try to live without, we cannot use it as something that is optional. Think about it. Most of us don’t expect our children to grow up to be professional athletes, but we’d never consider grounding them from a sports practice. But we do want our children to grow up to be life-long followers of Christ. The community of Christ cannot be a bartering chip or trump card to play.
Second, when we ground our kids from church we are communicating that we don’t believe in the redemptive purpose that a youth group experience provides. Are they going to have fun at youth group? Probably. Isn’t fellowship with other believers supposed to be a joyful experience? But are they going to hear the gospel preached? Absolutely. And I believe that nothing in this world has the potential to change the hearts of the most hardened people like the Word of God. We also believe that life-change happens best in the context of a small group – something that we provide in every experience for our youth and children.
I believe that this boils down to one of the values for families that we believe here at Grace Fellowship - Fight for the Heart. When we fight for the heart we’re doing more than fighting – we’re going toe-to-toe with the things that clamor for the attention of our children, and fighting for them to know God their Father above all else. And sometimes that has to trump us being right.
I do believe that there can be exceptions to what I’ve talked about, like special trips and other experiences that are a privilege. I invite your discussion on this.