Family and Kingdom

I tossed and turned in bed last night. The bed sheets gathered around my neck. One feline camped out at my feet while another lounged around my head until they decided to rumble around 4 a.m. The humidity weighed heavy and my husband’s breathing echoed. Finally, I gave in and got up. After a shower, breakfast, exposure to the Happy Lamp, and a deep breath, I scrolled through the all-important happenings posted on Facebook during my not-so-slumbering hours. I came across this quote:

Once you’ve left the concept of family you’ve left the concept of Kingdom. – Bill Johnson

It took me aback. See, it’s Sunday. Sabbath. The traditional day to scurry about getting the family fed and presentable and out the door (by 9 a.m., yet again, like all the days before it) to attend a corporate gathering for worship. Except for the past year-ish, my family hasn’t.

Some days we’ve been sick; some days we’ve been tired; some days we’ve been with extended family members – in state, out of state, in all sorts of states. But lately, we’ve woken up leisurely. We’ve enjoyed breakfast together. We’ve dressed down, grabbed our bags with workbooks and card games and cookbooks for weekly menu planning, and we’ve gone to a local coffee shop to hang out for two-ish hours where we connect with friends who work there and friends who hang out there and friends who wander in and out in between church services.

I don’t know if this is the right thing to do. Part of our actions stem from wanting a day of rest. Perhaps that means our weekly activities are too much; perhaps that means we’re being lazy.

Part of our actions stem from children’s ministries at our worship gathering: we have three littles participating, but we don’t have adults serving, and the need for teachers/leaders/facilitators seems great. I’ve connected with the children’s pastor about this, and she spoke freedom to my husband and me that we didn’t have to volunteer. But I haven’t been able to get past the dread/guilt/uncomfortable feeling I have dropping my kids off with my friends as they’re teaching children’s Sunday school.

A friend has written about the lack of male representation in children’s ministries. This morning I joked with my husband over our Sunday morning cup of coffee that Jamie and I have the same sense but totally different responses. He rallies people to move toward something, issuing a call for men to come alongside the current volunteers (mostly women) in the role of teaching the young among us. And I wonder about laying children’s ministries down: no volunteers, no interest/energy, no program.

My family spends a decent amount of the week apart. Well, the kids and I spend the time apart from my husband. But on Sunday morning we spend some quality time together – with people from our community who come in and out of the coffee shop since it’s in the middle of our town – and we connect.

So when I read Bill Johnson’s quote, I did a double-take. To a degree I feel like I’ve left my church family. My kids beg to attend Sunday morning service – mostly to see their best friends and get to run around bizerko during community time while my hubby and I try to balance yelling at them to behave and giving up because who else is actually trying to manage their children? – and yet I feel a block about attending the worship gathering. Actually, I feel an achy tummy. And achy ears from my kids’ seemingly constant questioning. “Why don’t we go?!!”

So I read that quote, and I thought, “Have I left Kingdom? But I want to be about the Kingdom!”

And yet I spend Sunday mornings with my immediate family camped in the midst of our greater family. I don’t know that we worship. But honestly, I don’t really worship at the corporate gathering anyway, so at least my stomach ache stems from too much caffeine instead of spiritual anxt.

“Once you’ve left the concept of family you’ve left the concept of Kingdom.” I think this means to point out the importance of relationships over power; grace over law; love over all. And I hope somewhere and somehow the actions – and nature – of my family speaks the Kingdom to our greater family; that we hear Kingdom from our greater family; and that we get the chance to glory in the unexpected and unbounded movements of the Spirit together – to and with the greater world.

1 thought on “Family and Kingdom

  1. Jamie

    Great post, AJ! And really, there are only two choices if the current model of children’s ministry is not working – which is to say, I am not sure the current model is not working, but I am sure that it seems to be groaning under the weight of a few mostly moms making things happen.

    I appreciate your wrestling with the idea of church/worship/sabbath. Too often we operate on auto-pilot and just do what we think we should do without considering the effect it is having on us/our families. Worship happens in many capacities, including in a coffee shop!

    This balance of being parents of young ones, of having people expect certain things, of having our own questions about the nature of the church and how to do church, and what it all means is normal, at least I think it is. We often ask the same questions in our house…

    Thanks for continuing the conversation and for being open with your life.

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