The Cost of Following Jesus – kids and all?
Looks like the start of a great but unashamedly challenging series on ‘Planting Churches In Hard Places: But What About Your Children?‘ by church-planter Mez McConnell, who leads an inner-city church plant on a housing scheme in Edinburgh
If you’re a Christian wanting to follow the Lord Jesus then read this.
Here’s a sample:
Here’s a newsflash. Wait for it.
Church planting might actually cost us something. That something might even turn out to be everything. It might turn out to be every sacred cow we hold dear in our middle class, educationally driven, child centred, play it safe, let’s cover all the angles before we step out, Christian culture.
Really? You mean those biographies of long since, dead people who buried their children on the missions field after suffering all sorts of wasting diseases, might actually have some relevance for my coddled, sanitised Twenty First Century life? Are you suggesting that I may have to make difficult decisions today that may even be (in human, earthly terms) detrimental for my loved ones? Well, that sounds a bit over the top. That doesn’t even sound biblical, or even closely like my God who wants me and my family to be safe and sound. What would Joyce Meyer or the guy with the nice teeth on the God Channel say about that? God wants me to take decisions that make me and my family happy, doesn’t He?. God wouldn’t really want me to suffer for His namesake, would He? OK, maybe a bit of name calling and some strong debate with my atheist friends. But, to move my family to a tough scheme without thought to my young ones? C’mon. God wouldn’t want me to do anything that is irresponsible, surely? We should, at least, consider some sort of risk assessment? You seriously mean to say that my children might suffer for the gospel? My wife might suffer for the gospel? I thought I might have to suffer but not like this. Actually, when I come to think about it, I’m not actually sure what I mean when I say that. I didn’t really think that ‘take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee‘, was really all that serious. It sounds so much better with a bit of base and a nice drum beat.
What do you think? Stick a comment below…
As someone who’s been on a mission field for 13 years (not church-planting, though), and has 3 children, this is not an idle question. Prague’s not exactly a hardship field, but anyone who takes their kids and raises them in a different culture is going to have to deal with a degree of static and confusion in their children’s lives. And that plays out all sorts of ways, all sorts of struggles that you, as a parent, are ultimately responsible for. I wish I could say I counted the cost before we departed. But in truth, I just knew where God wanted us to go, and it wasn’t until later that I started seeing the impact of my decision. Not all that heroic, but it does thrust you in the position of having to trust God with your kids when you’re trying to follow him, knowing that your decision may have messed them up cultural/psychologically to some extent.
Don’t know if I have a “point” to make, except that the issues regarding obedience and the effect it will have on kids is rarely clear-cut. God have mercy.
Thanks Ted for getting involved and sharing something of your experience. As you say, I’m sure it’s not clear cut. As someone who doesn’t have kids at the mo, that element is anticipatory for me & my wife, but I’m aware its a live issue for many. I guess a loving parent will care for their child’s well-being, and true love will care for eternal well-being. I suppose that challenges what we may naturally consider ‘our child’s comfort’, i.e. going somewhere where there may not be a busy youth programme is not the end of the world if they’re learning to value Jesus as most precious and being involved in an exciting venture for his sake. I guess a key part is including and communicating that vision to them as they grow up and experience some of the ‘toughness’ of that context…?