What to do?

What to do? August 13, 2012

This post is from a friend of this blog, and he wants to have an open discussion about a topic of interest to many — here goes:

I’m a middle-aged dad, married to my wife of many years, with two teen-aged kids, one a Freshman and the other a Senior in High School.  We’re currently experiencing a dilemma about church attendance.  My kids have grown up in a typical community evangelical church, with high energy praise music and a high octane youth group.  I used to appreciate some of this stuff (in fact I used to play guitar in the praise band!), but I really don’t anymore.  My tastes and my theology have moved towards a more liturgical, Eucharist-centered view of the Sunday worship service.  My understanding of the mission of the Church, the nature of baptism, liturgy, and corporate prayer, and so-on, doesn’t fit with the “seeker sensitive,” individualistic model of the community evangelical church.  My study of theology and church history have moved me way behond the — IMHO — shallow (at best) or neo-fundamentalist (at worst) thinking in many such seeker churches. 

I suppose a theologically moderate Anglican congregation might be more my thing these days, or maybe a mainline congregation with some post-liberal / evangelical emphasis, or maybe something heavily influenced by the new monasticism, or maybe even Catholicism or Orthodoxy.  All this comes through lots of serious study, prayer and reflection.  I simply cannot deal with the evangelical seeker-style church anymore — I’m mentally and emotionally and spiritually done with it.

As a father and husband, I feel I have some obligation to “lead,” whatever that might mean in today’s culture.   This is a big deal for me as a third-generation Christian famly man:  nothing is more important to me than passing along a joyful, stable faith to my kids.  Yet simply for the sake of my own spiritual health — which impacts my role as a father and husband — a change for me is clearly necessary.  In fact, I think my kids are getting robbed of a richer heritage in the faith by the go-go youth group culture, though I’m glad they want to go to church at all.

But my kids like the evangelical community church we attend.  They find other churches I’ve taken them to visit lame and boring.  My child who is a high school Senior has a drivers’ license and has said she would go with my son to the community evangelical church if I want to go somehwere different.  They are both dead-set against change, and they’re not really equipped to understand all the changes I’ve undergone. In truth, my kids rarely go to the church service itself; Sunday School is contemporaneous with the worship service, so effectively the youth Sunday School is their “church.”  Yet they like their youth pastors and have some friends there.  My wife suggests I should be willing to suffer for my kids’ sake.  She also likes the seeker-type church, and she has little interest in liturgy or theology.  But the truth is that, for me, this isn’t just about tolerating a few annoying things here and there — it’s a deep change (I would say a spiritual growth) that has been a long time in the making.  I just can’t come home from church with a stomach ache every week anymore.

My question for the JC community is this:  particularly those of you who are parents, have you ever experienced periods where the teen-aged / young adult kids and the parents (or one parent) attended different churches on Sunday mornings?  How about churches in very different denominations?  Has anyone found a way to make this sort of thing work?  Is it a more common thing today than I think it might be?  Can it actually be a healthy thing to let teen-aged / young adult children start to make their own choices about where to attend church (my oldest, after all, is going on 18 years old…)?  Or, does the husband in particular have an obligation to “keep the family together” in the same local congregation every Sunday morning?  And if so, does that imply taking the kids along kicking and screaming to a setting the husband thinks best, or does it mean enduring what the kids prefer at least until they’re out of the house?  Or something else??

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  • Peter

    I have been discussing with my wife of almost 40 years something very similar. I would like to attend an Anglican liturgical service instead of the evangelical hodge podge that has resulted as my church has tried to be seeker sensitive. She would prefer to attend a service where the expressive gifts of the Holy Spirit are regularly anticipated and healing is prayed for regularly (we were reading Tim Stafford’s “Miracles” together last evening, scrutinizing our own understanding of that issue). In September I am scheduled to lead a Sunday School, so if I go to the Anglican Church it will be a rush before returning to my church for Sunday School and she would have to miss Sunday School (I like it when she attends – good source of honest feedback) to attend the church of her preference. I don’t mind the church that she wants to attend and often I am glad that I went with her; she has no desire to go to the Anglican church with me and the smell of incense makes her nauseous. No head of household concerns for me at present. Not sure what I’ll do, but the Saturday evening or early Sunday morning Anglican services added on to regular Sunday attendance appear to be the most likely options for me.

  • Kerrie-Anne

    As a young, married woman, having in the past number of years also gone through a similar deep change to yours, and made the move from a large, loud pentecostal church complete with high-energy youth/young adult ministry to a small, family-oriented progressive mainline church… *big breath* I would like to share my thoughts on this transition…

    I really wish the evangelical church I grew up in had primed me a little bit more about the great breadth of Christianity and just how wide “orthodox faith” really is (I know that’s asking too much here!). My parents, much as I love and respect them, didn’t really see the need to do this either. So early on I didn’t realise there were alternative options when I had really difficult questions that weren’t being answered, or rather, I was encouraged to believe that alternative options were heretical in some way.

    If I could encourage you to do anything, whatever decision you make, it would be to discuss the beautifully diverse traditions of the faith and the amazing (and also the un-amazing) history of the church with your children. Somehow. They may not even be that interested now. I don’t know if you can make them go with you to a different church at the age they are at – IMO of course – you can try, but I think they’d just resent you for it. But you CAN sow the seeds that will help broaden their horizons. I can only pray that they don’t have to go through the melt-down I did during my 20s as I deconstructed most of everything I thought was true and real, taught to me in the exclusive bubble of my childhood church.

    I’m sure as long as there is lots of communication about the reasons why you need change, sharing your heart and journey as much as is appropriate with your family, that something palatable to all can be worked out. In the end, loving community is a huge part of what church is all about, not just “correct” doctrine, and if your kids already have that, then that’s brilliant. They will find their own paths of deeper revelation in time.

    God bless whatever route you take.

  • DRT

    As a father of 3 teens I relate and my case is one that illustrates a much worse situation. My kids lost their faith in a seeker sensitive church and no longer can go anywhere. I say you should be thankful they are going.

    At a deeper level, lead by the example that you feel is right in your heart. If they continue to go there and you go elsewhere don’t try to compete on the points the other church has over your chosen church. Don’t tell them it will be fun, it will not. Rather, as time passes let them know the spiritual effects it gives you and go down to their level and let them know that it helps you grow as a Christian. Subtlety is your alley.

  • I am 31 years old. In jr. high and high school I attended a very large non-denominational evangelical church with some seeker-sensitive characteristics, and was very involved in the youth group and leadership there. I now attend a very small Episcopal church for many of the reasons you hinted at above. Here is where my story has value for you.

    When I was 16, my parents decided to switch churches, but they decided to allow me to finish out my high school years at our old mega-church, which I did. Despite that church’s weaknesses, it shaped my early life in really good ways,strengthening my faith. The fact that my parents trusted and respected me enough to let me stay there meant a lot to me then, and means a lot to me now.

    I would make the move, for your own spiritual health and growth, and explain why you’re doing it, but let them make the decision about where they want to attend, showing them that you respect tand support heir decision.


  • Alan K

    Have you spoken to the leadership of your church about what you are experiencing? More than one worship culture can exist in a church.

  • Pat

    My family has also made the transition from seeker-focused worship to liturgical worship (Anglican Mission in the Americas), though our kids are much younger than yours.

    There is a compromise that you could consider: ask the family to visit a liturgical service once a month. Pick different churches within the larger Christian tradition in your area (Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, etc.) each month and pitch it to your family as a learning exercise: a way to learn about the wider, international forms of Christianity that exist outside of the seeker-directed, non-denominational form that they are used to. It can be a good learning experience for the teens, and can give you a break from the church that your teens still enjoy.

  • Fish

    I think teenagers attending a different church than their parents could be taken as very positive signs of both independence and faith. But then I am a believer in the “kick them out of the nest at a young age” theory of parenting.

  • E.G.

    I’d suggest that this fellow continue to attend the family church as long as the kids are in the house.

    BUT perhaps he can also find an evening service in a style more up his alley to attend.

    Or, what #5 said.

  • Andy W.

    I could have written this post. Nearly identical to my current cituation (ex drummer in the praise band, kids and wife don’t want change, etc) . I really feel there are more of us out there than we think, but how do we connect? I don’t have any good advice. I’ve decieded to go my way and let my wife and kids continue where they’re at. I don’t feel I can force my way here. I’ve still not found a church home primarily because of the very limited options here in New England. It’s either the seeker/neo-fundy church/club or the mainline church with 17 members all over 60. I’ve tried a few EO churches, but they’re all too ethic here. Maybe I just go RCC, if for no other reason then convenience. This is certainly not what I would have ever guessed or anticiapted or even wanted to happen, but this is the reality of where I’m at. I try to be supportive and and positive as can be about the journey my wife and children are on.

  • Phil

    Someone recently told me of a story where a new believer was recommended by an older wise theologian to attend a church where he liked the people, not a church that preached the gospel, had the right programs or theology. If they like the people, they will be likely to attend and grow, if you don’t like the people it’s another excuse to skip. That being said, is it possible for dad to find some people that he actually likes, in his church or outside, that will help him love the others.

  • cw

    *Bunny trail alert*
    Please, please address the issue of what is going on with so many who are dissatisfied with the Evangelical/Protestant contemporary music playing, multimedia using, one man (usually) for 40 min. messaging service. Thanks to N.T. Wright, Scot McKnight (or if you want to be frustrated on a less intellectual and more practical level Jen Hatmaker and Hugh Halter) even being glad about “the Gospel” being preached is not possible. If my investigations are anywhere close to accurate, there’s a flood of people looking at the liturgical bodies – Anglican, Orthodox and Roman Catholic. Is this just the latest “wave” of change that my Baby Boomer generation is undergoing? (Although younger people are also “voting with their feet” in larger numbers also.) What’s happening with the Church? Should the worship style have much effect on my ability to commune with Christ and others? How important is it to reflect with my actions my changes in theology and doctrine?
    This dad is most certainly not alone in his wrestling and asks very poignant questions.

  • I’m the parent of a 4 month year old, so not at all in the same situation. Sure, she tends to fall asleep during the sermon and occasionally cries (her first time at church she responded with a very loud fart just as the pastor started preaching), but we think it’s still important she attend the same church as we do.

    However, I was in your kids situation. My brother and I started attending a different church early in my senior year of high school. It was great. I took a year off of school after high school became very involved–then onto Wheaton, then seminary. At Wheaton I experienced the broader influence of traditional worship and was exposed to that granddaddy of all high liturgical churches–the Orthodox. Robert Webber at the time was especially a big influence in exposing students in that way.

    So, I get your side too. Yet, I’m still very much on the side of your kids and letting them go their own way. Two big reasons. One, because of community. Everything you note about music, sermons, style and such are right, but the most important part of a developing faith is that of community–having friends and peers who are contending in the same direction. Indeed, Evangelical youth/college ministry is making a big turn from the seeker sensitive/young life models and increasingly turning to the “sticky faith” approaches. Which means that oftentimes youth groups are among the most genuine and deep and honest parts of a seeker sensitive church. Helping your kids maintain a thriving community, giving them the ability to choose their faith helps prevent associating faith with all sorts of other negative frustrations. Giving them the ability to choose their own way now, independent, might even help them continue to choose Christ in the midst of many other paths they’ll be exposed to in college or elsewhere over the next years. Having them maintain a community of faith shows them the essence of what the church should be–even if other elements are not quite as deep.

    Second, your faith is not their faith, and your spiritual needs are not their spiritual needs. Liturgical churches are great places to discover a depth of spiritual content. Evangelical churches, however, are great at nurturing young faiths and responding to concerns of young people. What you find attractive about liturgical churches and what you are frustrated with about Evangelical churches is a sign of your own maturing faith. And yet, at the same time, leaving your church, bringing your kids, just to minister to your own needs is itself a sign of Evangelical consumerism. You’re still wanting seeker sensitive, it’s just you’re a different kind of seeker these days. Your kids are in a different place and it sounds like they are old enough to express their spiritual concerns and know where they are finding a community of Christ.

    So, I think letting your kids have the choice is worthwhile. There comes a time in which leading means given space to your kids–just as God gives us space to make our choices. Now is a good time because you’re still able to watch and interact with them closely. If you go to another church, involve them in some ways with your reasoning and share with them what you are learning–point them to the fact there’s something deeper out there. If you stay, I’d suggest taking your impulse and leading a new Sunday school class or helping to develop an alternative service or a prayer/liturgy group. As a part of that church, maybe the Spirit is putting it on your heart to help deepen the church–for your sake and the sake of others.

    I can only speak for myself, but by being allowed to go to a different church was an amazing part of my church growth–both because of the community I was a part of in the church and because my parents respected our faith enough to trust us with our faith. And I think that trust helped me to avoid a lot of the “I’m finally free!” rebellion I saw in so many other young Christians at college.

    It’s indeed a very good question you’re asking and I pray you have wisdom in your decisions.

  • RSM

    As one who has shared your journey, though not with the family baggage, I offer these points:

    1. Remember that at one time the community evangelical church filled a need for you, and you grew into your new perspective over time, in your own (God’s own?) time.
    2. Always speak to your kids (and wife) in positive terms about the experiences you have in more liturgical settings, and NEVER in disparaging terms about where you’ve come from and what they still may prefer.
    3. Following up on Pat’s suggestion (#5), ask kids/spouse to accompany you occasionally, if indeed you do decide to attend somewhere different, and be sure to accompany them occasionally to the church they’ve grown up in. Again, always positive, never negative comments. Encourage them to find positive, not negative comments, while always respecting their current spiritual place.
    4. As God is the head of your household, recognize how he led you to this place, and let that be the model for how you might proceed with your family. (Ever notice how male heads-of-household emulate their view of an authoritarian/autocratic/judgmental God, or a nurturing/enveloping/patient God?)
    5. Leads to final point: trust God. Your kids and spouse are in his hands.

    Best wishes.

  • DRT

    I have to add that I am with Fish. a big believer in getting the kids to be responsible and independentat am early age. I made my kids start being responsible for their own homework in seventh grade and they have all responded well. I think it is healthy for them to start being independent. but I recognize that we are probably not usual. I wish you beat of luck.

  • Tyler

    To me it is pretty crazy how the “Emerging Church” has been growing in numbers and the popularity with liturgical compared to anything else in recent years. I know from my experience (I am only 20, but when I was a youth at church) that there were families that had “splits” like this in them. The way most of those families dealt with it was that they took their kids to church with them, if they were close enough the kids could come to our church for Sunday School, and they would come to our church youth group during the week. If the seeker church has a youth group during the week you can let the kids go there while going to your preferred church on Sunday’s. But you probably should talk with your kids about their faith, and what it means, and why it is important to be learning on a deep spiritual level. Or, you could start a small group at your church that does dive down deep. Blessings on this journey of yours.

  • Just an observation: The seeker-sensitive model insisted on youth ministries with all the ‘bells and whistles,’ so to speak, *in order to* keep their kids/teens interested in the faith. Now those same teens as young adults have assessed the carnival atmosphere of all that pizzazz and are flocking somewhere else for *meaning.* What was meant to keep them has made them doubt. Hmmmmm…

    I agree with the comments that suggest the Dad allow his teens to make their own decisions about church attendance while at the same time communicating his heart to them and his wife about the deep changes he’s experienced.

  • Jim

    I empathize with the journey and struggle. Yet, if I’m brutally honest, I still hear the same consumer mindset behind the desire to change churches – I want, I need, my study, etc. How is that different than what your wife and kids want? I think real spiritual depth is manifested in dying to self, loving others, etc. Not styles or preferences of worship. I would suggest to honor your kids and family. Go to a liturgical service at 9am by yourself, and go with your family at 11am. Allow them to take the same journey that you are on, rather than forcing them to experience and be where you are at. Besides… knowing some people who have made the shift you are wrestling with, I wouldn’t be surprised if in few years the pendulum doesn’t swing back a bit more towards the middle.

  • JR

    Grew up Methodist, got involved in evangelicalism in college, and now interested in attending an Anabaptist seminary. I wish these schools were more strategically located, though. W/o a last name like Yoder or Stoltzfus I’m not sure how accepted I would be, as well.

  • As a pastor of a mostly 20 something church, one of the things that strikes me about our culture is how well churches with resources minister to 18 year olds, yet how difficult it is to minister to 19 year olds.

    That obviously is the transition into adulthood (which means very different things to each person experiencing it) but in regard to the question above, the best possible thing you can do as a father is awaken your kids of love for Christ as they become adults. If they have that, they will find a church community that will speak their language (and that should be encouraged). If they don’t they will be one of the countless millions who grew up doing church, but realized it was not for them anymore.

  • Larry S

    In reading the post I was struck by how absent the gentleman’s wife appears to be in his deliberations. This is where the wife shows up “My wife suggests I should be willing to suffer for my kids’ sake. She also likes the seeker-type church, and she has little interest in liturgy or theology.”

    Since he is asking advise I’d say, he should focus on coming to a like-minded consensus with his wife about what do. And since he says he is having all this ‘deep’ spiritual growth the brave thing for him to do would be to ask his wife if she thinks he has been “growing spiritually.”

    Bottom-line – the kids are going to grow up, he is going to be with his wife for a lifetime (hopefully). He should focus on that. I tend to agree with his wife. Suck it up for a few years. Go to another church once in awhile, maybe take them to other church experiences. Does this gentleman want to end up with going to one church and his wife to another for the REST OF HIS LIFE? He should think long range.

  • donsands

    Our Lord wants us as fathers to lead. We are men, and God made us to lead. Jesus was a man, and a leader, our best example.
    Yet, teen-age is different than smaller children.

    I would encourage them to come with me, if I was you. I would simply say, “Give it a month, and lets see how it works. And have an open mind to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Stay focused on Christ, and not so much the way things are set up.
    The Lord puts us in different churches for His perfect reasons. He will lead you, and you need to lead your children with love and authroity.

    They may go another way, especially when they get their license.

    I pray our Lord will help you out, and you will all see Christ in a greater way, and grow closer to Him in His love and truth.
    Peace and grace!

  • Norman

    My question is why so much emphasis upon the 45 minute service encounters. I would be curious how a liturgical service is theologically more in tune with the original first century church practices. IMHO it is the encounter with the congregation and the fellowship that produces spiritual opportunities. I like Larry S#19 did not see how the wife’s desires were being mutually addressed, thus the children issue will eventually recede but the wife’s needs will always be in play as a partner.

  • Fernando

    I was lucky enough to have kids who were as interested in liturgy and theology as I was. My wife and I eventually found a home in a Lutheran (LCMS) church that has both traditional worship and good preaching. We are not as conservative as most LCMS pastors, but it turned out to be a welcoming place for us nonetheless, and we are daily impressed by the richness of the Great Tradition and the practical wisdom of Luther.

    There are many larger LCMS churches that offer both “contemporary” and liturgical services, sometimes even simultaneously. Something of that sort might offer an option for your dilemma. I wouldn’t worry about your older child, who is close enough to going to college and facing change anyway, but the position of the younger seems more perilous. On the other hand, it seems they are already attending a different congregation, even if in the same building…

    One argument for pushing them to change is simply that it is noy healthy to worship only with other young people! But change, as always, is hard and risky. May God grant wisdom.

  • Kristin

    When I was a teenager, there were three types of kids: those who did “youth group” only, those who did youth group and regularly attended service, and those who regularly attended service but were not in youth group.

    10 years after high school graduation, the majority of group A either do not attend church or do so sporadically. Group B are by and large faithful believers. Group C are surpisingly predominately leaders in their churches. Just my anedotal evidence…the concerns are valid.

    I was a group B. My parents required me to attend service regularly, but they allowed me to choose what service to attend. (We went to a large church with a wide range of styles) I didn’t have to go with them, or sit with them, per se. I certainly learned something going to service on occasion by myself…that in between of not wanting to go with my parents but none of my friends wanted to go with me.

    It is true that teenagers are individuals forming their own faith, but don’t be deceived that everything they want is what is best for them. It is much more likely they are following their friends and the bandwagon. Youth group certainly won’t kill them, but youth group without any other sort of grounding perhaps might. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’d encourage this guy to establish some “ground rules” as a family and share his heart and reasonings with them.

  • Dan

    I started attending a different church in high school and my dad was the pastor. From my perspective this was a positive thing because I had grown disconnected with the (Charismatic) church of my family and could attend a church that I could enjoy going to and help me grow in my faith. My dad eventually took the approach of, “as long as you’re going somewhere,” and “whatever helps your relationship with Jesus.”

    So after going to that church, and then going to a Bible college in that church’s tradition/(non-denominational)denomination where I studied biblical interpretation and had a long, winding theological journey that sounds similar to yours. In the end I came out as some sort of a post-evangelical, post-liberal Christian, stuck between the conservative Evangelicalism that I couldn’t go back to because it just seemed completely untenable, and Protestant liberalism on the other hand, which definitely seemed to give too much away. A couple years out of college, I ended up exploring the Catholic church and after much study and prayer, I decided to join. Becoming Catholic has been one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made. I have never up to this point felt 100% at home in any church tradition before.
    If you have any desire at all to explore the Catholic tradition, I would recommend starting with Christian Smith’s How to go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in 95 Difficult Steps. If you’re still interested after that, go to some of Pope Benedict XVI’s writings (he’s a great theologian), The Spirit of the Liturgy is particularly great. Then go to George Weigel’s Letters to a Young Catholic. Also, reading the Catholic catechism and some of the documents from the Vatican II council would be good.
    Not to self-promote, but here’s a blog I posted for my friends and family on why I decided to join the Catholic church. http://the3150.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/why-im-joining-the-catholic-church/

    May God guide your seeking.

  • Doug Hendricks

    Thanks for posting this, it is very timely. I find myself in a somewhat similar situation. I don’t think I have any answers for you except to relate my own experience (which even hearing that there are others out there is encouraging to me). Like you I have “rethought” Christianity over the past years and have come to the same place of being “mentally, spiritually, and emotionally done with it” (the typical evangelical church as you say). From some of the things you said I suspect that we have some theological similarities. Also like you we were involved in our church(s)- as “home fellowship” leaders. It was actually in this context that we first started moving away from our past church experience to a more “house church” view- less top down leadership, more participation, more practical community (this seems to be a different direction than you went). My kids are just slightly younger than yours and each go to a different youth group- which i am thankful for but with some of the same reservations you mention. Added to this are some are some personal issues involving calling, burnout, and “poverty” (I still justify having internet access because it is important to the home schooling of our youngest).

    All of this leaves me asking what are we as a family going to do about church- and by “church” I just don’t mean attending a service but some real participation with the people of god regarding the things of God. I am OK with a good amount of diversity but also desire (and think there should be) some coomonality. We have tried a places here and there but nothing as yet has fit. At this point we are going to have some family meetings where I relate my own journey and have some discussions about Scripture, the church, the “mere” of christianity- and then, as a family, decide what we are to do about church. I suspect that we will all have to give in at some points and do some things and go some places the we all don’t consider optimal.
    Pat #5- great suggestion

  • JamesB

    What do you mean by ” they’re not really equipped to understand all the changes I’ve undergone”? Have you spoken with them about your thought processes? Getting them to think through different perspectives now before they are out in the”real world” will help them make more informed decisions as adults. It’s easy to want to shelter them from those things; I know this from firsthand experience. But kids are generally more resilient than we give them credit for.

  • Joey Elliott

    I have no children, so feel free to take that into account, but I can tell you as a husband and hopeful future father my efforts will be to lead my family into a healthy church life. My wife and, I before we got married, made a transition to a church we believe we can spend the rest of our life in, and raise our children in. We chose a church that fit our theology and practice, exalted Jesus, and valued the Bible and the local church. The rest we are trusting to God. I could say a lot more and encourage you to look for a church with these things also, which would most likely show you to conservative evangelical church, rather than a moderate or mainline type churches, but the important thing is that, in my opinion, it is crucial to lead your family to a healthy church life, all in the same place.

    I wish I had more specific words of encouragement of how that could look for you, but if nothing else I want to encourage you that I think it is possible to find a place that has what you seek, and also is appealing to your children. I personally believe that Jesus and the gospel, proclaimed and demonstrated faithfully, within community, can be relevant and attractive for all ages, without settling for traditional / lame / boring, or seeker-sensitive / shallow / overemphasized youth culture.

  • MSP

    A major problem with attending a liturgical church is that most of them are part of denominations where the leadership at the top is rotting. You may find a local church you love, but ultimately in most of these denominations–and especially the Episcopal church–you are ultimately submitting yourself to leaders who don’t even believe the Bible is true; who are glad to ordain folks whose lives do not align with Biblical guidelines for elders, etc. I don’t think that a decision based on worship preferences, that leads you to submit yourself to unbiblical leaders, can ultimately be a healthy decision.

  • i’m in a similar situation without the kids…

    i grew up in anabaptist (church of the brethern and mennonite) and then seeker-sensitive evangelical (but still with mennonite underpinnings) churches. my husband grew up RCC. we went to the church my parents went to, but we quickly got disenchanted with the seeker-senstitive “1-2-3 steps to improving your life” messages and top-40 praise music. luckily the church launched an emergent service just as we were about to leave and we got plugged into that community and both of us really grew in our faith.

    then we moved away for a new job for him and seminary for me. now i am starting my 2nd year of seminary field ed at an episcopal church, but the liturgy there reminds him too much of his forced RCC attendance as a child and he gets bored. he’s a hobby electronic musician and DJ and volunteers to do their sound system there once a month, but the other sundays he attends (and runs sound at) an RCA-Acts29 church plant where they have music he likes more. i miss him mostly when i preach; he always gives me great feedback.

    on one hand, i do kind of wish we attended the same church together, but on the other hand, we’re both plugged in to local churches and serving with our gifts and growing in our faith. i think maybe the sacrifice of the time together is worth that. i think about the early christians who often didn’t and couldn’t worship with their families because their families were still pagans or traditional jews. i wonder if the attention given to attending church “together as a family” is more an american thing with the emphasis on nuclear family than a spiritual necessity. i don’t know what we’ll do if/when we have kids but i do want my kids to have their own faith, not my or my husband’s faith.

    i would say the gentleman who asked the question should divide his sundays between the two churches… maybe one sunday a month with his family, and, if they’re willing, 1 sunday a month at his preferred liturgical church. i also endorse the suggestion that he teach his kids about the history of the church and the importance liturgy and theology has come to have for him. i am assuming he’s had these conversations with his wife, but from his question, i can’t really tell. either way, transparency and complete openness about his own journey can only be a good example for his family. i don’t think the father/husband has any more responsibility to “lead” than his wife, but that they should lead together. so his wife should definitely be part of his conversation and decision on where to worship, and her own faith journey has to be respected as well.

  • Rather than looking at the decision, what might be the root cause of the “exodus” from seeker to more liturgical venues? One is the consumerism of the baby boomer that is part and parcel with church attendance. A decision that I made for my family over 2o years ago was to attend a church within 15 minutes of our home. We lived in a large urban setting at that time and the possibilities were endless. Rather than looking for a place where we can “get” something out of church, we looked for a place where we can “give” something. Now I live in a very small community where a predominant number of church goers drive to the big city. But my 3 kids have grown up and gone on, experiencing the relationships of multi generational church. We did not “get” much out of the worship but have been fulfilled by the “giving” opportunities. My wife is a piano/organ player and she worships with her fingers. She does not play regularly at our church, but she does minister to other congregations in the area on a regular basis as a substitute musician. But that is for worship only. The church community is where call home, not the worship service.
    So, is there a place in your current situation where you can “give” and receive fulfillment?

  • CGC

    Hi Everyone,
    The church is a pick and choose volunteer community that meets my needs in a consumer culture. Is that really the church described in the Bible?

  • Pat Pope

    I’m not a parent, but at the age of your children, I say let them continue attending the evangelical church with your wife while you go on to find that which feeds your soul. Rather than seeing it as something divisive, it can actually be healthy to model for your family how people can be a part of different Christian traditions and still be one in the Body of Christ. When you all come together on Sunday afternoon, you can share about your individual experiences.

  • Holly

    Since the kids are in highschool, and because they are interested in church and desire to stay (which is saying something huge….) if I were in your shoes I would choose to stay for just a few more years – perhaps joining another congregation for other types of community/fellowship/study throughout the week.

    If the kids were little, that would be different.

    I agree greatly (and from experience to my detriment) with the person above who advised you to not disparage the church your children are in. Young faith can be so fragile – if they see you disdain the place where they feel nurtured, it can cause doubt, frustration, and even anger at a time when they need to be feeling warmth, acceptance, and security.

    I’ve got four teens (and five younger children.) This topic is very close to me. Where once I could switch churches on a whim, I no longer can. My kids call me to be rooted where they feel accepted. I once moved our children from their church of security – at a very critical time for one of my sons – and it almost proved tragic. Don’t do it.

  • This is a very common issue in the UK as well, though less-so perhaps because seeker-friendly services have not the same traction here as in the US. The pastoral issues of changing theology/liturgical/missional perspectives have led many, eventually, to abandon churchgoing altogether. Although that, for me, is an extreme move, research among those who have left has covered in some detail by Alan Jamieson, in the book which followed his PhD: ‘A churchless faith’. His basic thesis is that the faith is still there, but the church frameworks have not been flexible enough to adapt to changes which life brings to the faith of many (most?) mature Christians. I have now met so many wise, mature Christians who are struggling with what is going on in their home fellowship that I think it’s a very serious pastoral and missional issue for the wider Church. Most of us would baulk at taking a step which seems “consumerist”, but since most Western churches are consumerist in their appeal anyway, it may be the only way around this common pastoral limitation, and may indeed may be a cause of the problem. But the dilemma for the children remains, and I lack the wisdom to advise on this one, except to say that, from my own experience, they grow up much sooner than you think! Maybe you can rest with understanding yourself, and use some para-liturgies or para-spiritualities to sustain your own walk with God (like taking a retreat) until the time comes when you can refocus on the needs that come with your/our later stage in life. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Marshall

    If there’s a family-as-community of faith, why would it be a problem to do formal worship in different ways? If there isn’t, why would “attending church” together help? This thing is supposed to be a conversation (IMO), different people get different things out of it anyway. So: say grace and talk about conviction/experiences at meals and other family interactions; appreciate bounty while doing gardening, playing in the park; do volunteer/mission work together and put it in a Christian context. If the Spirit is leading your kids, what right do you have to interfere? If the Spirit is leading you, what right do you have to resist?

  • dopderbeck

    Great discussion. I can relate.

    A number of folks have suggested splitting time, maybe going to a more “liturgical” service once a month or finding one that meets other days of the week. I’ve done this a bit — there’s an Anglo-Catholic church near where I work that has daily mass at lunchtime, and I sometimes attend that. For me, if it were just about this kind of “style” thing I think it would be an easier call — each family member could find something on the menu and we could sort of stay where we are while trying some different flavors once in a while.

    But when it comes to the Eucharist, it’s only just about “style” if you buy into the consumerist seeker-service mentality wherein the communion is an occasional, and optional, remembrance. If your Eucharistic theology has moved beyond that Zwingilian view, however — or better, has moved back to the historic roots of the Eucharist’s centrality in the worship life of the Church — it’s much more complicated! I would say that if we’re not keeping the Table fellowship central, we’re not really doing “Church”. The model is to sing and speak around the Table, IMHO.

    For myself, I suspect that in the near term I’ll continue to find subtle ways to lead in my current setting such that some of the elements on my heart can be incorporated to some extent. I am blessed with some thoughtful pastors and elders who respect me and genuinely want to do what’s best. But I also suspect that I’ll have to learn to trust that my kids will begin to develop their own wings and that we might end up in different places locally or denominationally. Still, I’d rather that, sooner rather than later, they come to appreciate the centrality of the Lord’s Table.

  • dopderbeck

    Dan (#23) mentioned converting to Catholicism, which I think is potentially attractive to may folks who might relate to this post, including me. I wonder if anyone has had the experience of talking about this sort of thing with a trusted Catholic or Orthodox friend who is serious about his or her faith?

    I have, and in my experience it’s been both fascinating and frustrating. Fascinating, because you can experience a bit of what its like to be the subject of evangelism — a discomfiting experience even with the most sensitive interlocutor. Frustrating, because if you’re really trying to suss this out, you get a palpable sense of the Church’s deep historic divisions. To become a Catholic, or to become Orthodox, isn’t simply to take on a different worship style. It’s to affirm that this church finally is the Church (even though both Catholic and Orthodox recognize that people in other denominations can be “Christians,” albeit separated from the root of the Church). I have not yet found a way to adopt that stance either from the Catholic or the Orthodox perspective. Perhaps I should, and perhaps some day I will, or perhaps not. But that can be a very uncomfortable group of perhapses.

  • E.G.

    Wow. RSM #13 nailed it. Excellent words.

    It is all about the journey. And this is true in church choice as well as with your own viewpoints and those of others.

    I often have to remind myself that those whom I disagree (on points of theology, doctrine, style, whatever) with are also on a journey. In some cases, I was in the same place that they were a few years ago. In some cases, they may be ahead of me.

    With “journey” as your motto, it’s much easier to be gracious to others who differ from you (even when they are not gracious to you). And it makes it much more possible to live within a system that you are not in 100% agreement with.

    And, really… when have you or I ever been in 100% agreement about any system that we’ve been in?

  • Ken B

    Don’t take your kids on a ride through your personal development, when you’ve already instilled in them that they are part of a genuine church community. You can lead at home without making a traumatic change for them. As a family, attend and participate in the evangelical church community you’re already a part of. Then you can individually attend an Episcopal or Lutheran church’s worship, either at a Saturday evening, early Sunday, or mid-week service. Print out some liturgical resources like an evening prayer service or compline from the Book of Common Prayer, or buy each member of the family their own copy of the BCP, and regularly worship together at home with the liturgy. Have a standing invitation for them to attend with you. I grew up in the Episcopal Church, with my father becoming a priest during that time. So I appreciate and love liturgy, and know the saccharine taste of loud seeker services with how-to messages. But I also know the harm that can be done to teens when their parents put their own needs above their kids’. Christian community is essential to the faith, and it sounds like your kids have it. Your kids will be out of the house before you know it, and then you can move from attending two services (you at the liturgical, you and family at the contemporary) to transferring fully to the liturgical church.

  • Norman

    Ken B,

    I select the “like” button in regard to your comment. 🙂

    I still think the husband and wife also need to come to some common ground and from my observations that may be more challenging. Paul seemed to set the tone for issues like this with his 1 Cor 9 and Rom 14 discussions concerning putting the other first. Sometimes we have to reconcile our wants and needs within the collective wants and needs.

  • Can I make a side note that this perspective does not make a lot of sense to me?

    I don’t understand why a person would give up one style of ‘service’ for another. I’ve experienced a variety, and I understand the various ‘tastes’ involved in Anglican, non-denom, mainline churches services. I can also appreciate the deep, physical nausea that can result from spending too long in the wrong theological development.

    The thing is, I’ve never left a church because of the style of service. I’ve only ever left because of lack of spiritually profound personal relationships and connections. Is there something I’m missing in his scenario? Is there an aspect of the eucharist within various traditions that makes it a core component of unrest? Is my primary-value of personal connections simply a style of value system that is equally important relative to other value systems?

    I ask because as I read this, I’m hearing a desire for a different style of ‘service’, which has very little meaning for me.

  • Jim

    I’m also wondering if you can make it until the kids are out of the house…


  • dopderbeck

    Ken B and Eric and Jim — but I wonder if each of you are missing a deeper issue, which I mentioned in #38 — any authentic theology of the Eucharist is not just about “style.” For Catholics and Orthodox, and many Anglicans, the Eucharist is in some way essential because it is a means of grace. Certainly from a Catholic and Orthodox perspective, you cannot really call yourself a practicing Christian if you are not regularly receiving the grace of the Eucharist. Even for many denominations stemming from the Magesterial Reformation, the communion meal is more than “merely” a remembrance. And this sets the discussion of the role of baptism aside for now…

    Now, most Catholics and Orthodox and high Anglicans will say that a person in an evangelical community church who takes communion once a month or so and views it as merely a remembrance still mystically benefits from the true meaning of the Eucharist even if it is not properly understood or authentically practiced (because administered by “pastors” who are not duly appointed by Bishops in apostolic succession). The same, generally, would hold for baptism (though in at least some instances my understanding is that Orthodox will rebaptize).

    But — if it is in fact true that receiving the Eucharist is a means of grace, or at the very least is more than just a remembrance, is it right to deprive one’s children of that central opportunity to receive grace by allowing them to remain in a church where it is not properly practiced? And is it right to allow them to continue to be socialized into church practices and polities that are schismatic?

    That, it seems to me, is a much harder set of questions. And related to these questions are lots of other similar substantive issues concerning liturgical theologies and spiritual practices. (Another example: is a formalized rite of Confession important?)

    Obviously, if you think the Eucharistic meal is not a means of grace and is just a remembrance, then indeed this is just all about “style.” But that seems to me a different kind of journey than described in the post. In effect, it seems to me the poster is suggesting that on most Sundays, the typical evangelical community church might be entertaining or cajoling some people, but it isn’t really being the Church. So I don’t know — it all seems complicated to me.

  • CGC

    Hi David,
    Some good thoughts. I am reminded by your words of William Abraham’s book, “Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers to Feminism.” Bill’s book on a related topic is about how Protestant churches have turned the Christian faith from a means of grace into an epistemological apologetic. It seems like Evangelical churches continue to strip away sacramental realism for church growth and marketing techniques.

  • Dana Ames

    Andy W @9, don’t let the ethnic Orthodox thing deter you, although I understand how un-welcoming it can feel. If there is an OCA church near you, try that – or go back. Be brave, and if Orthodoxy is where Christ is leading, then follow him with all your heart, but no need to hurry.

    Larry S @20, my husband and I have not attended the same church for 12 years. It has been sad for both of us, but there are worse things that could happen (although from his point of view, my becoming Orthodox probably *was* the worst that could happen…). We recognize that for each of us, at this season, this is what our conscience compels us to do. We still love each other.

    CGC @32, the first century church was over as soon as the first century was over. On the other hand, we still know how to have all the problems those first Christians had.

    For the questioner, I have the experience of leaving my parents’ church as a college student, which was quite serious and a matter of conscience; I didn’t leave because I was rejecting Christianity or was rebellious or was interested in a different style. When I was 44, I also left an Evangelical church and went to a mainline church. At the time, my husband worked on Sundays and only got to attend church rarely. I told our 3 children, who were in their early teens and for whom this church was the only one they had ever known, that I didn’t care where they went to church, as long as they went somewhere. My husband was in agreement. The 2 older ended up coming with me and the younger stayed on, I think mainly because of friendships. She did that for a couple of years, until most of her friends had moved on and she could no longer swallow the platitudes that were offered in answer to her questions. None of my children is interested in Christianity, “traditional” or otherwise, at the moment; the closest to it my oldest, who attends a UU Fellowship in a college town.

    So, the only advice I have to offer is: be honest, work through it as best you can with your wife, and come to an agreement with her about what to do. For myself at this point, going to church with my husband would not be worship for me; I could go, and I could find some positive aspects about it, but there’s no life for me there, because where I ended up is so different. It’s so not about the style; my journey was theologically driven from the start.

    God will help you. You and your family are in his care. He loves your wife and children even more than you do.


  • Dana Ames

    Further thought: I read somewhere recently that your children don’t start their faith journey from nothing; they start from where *you* are. That has given me some comfort in a strange way…


  • CGC

    Hi Dana.
    I always appreciate your words. My words were not about getting back to some pristine Christianity. Just like Scot speaks about the shift of the gospel losing its kingdom focus and becoming the gospel of the soterions, it also seems even from an ancient Christian approach or even Scot’s Anabaptist approach that the church has quit being a discipleship community of obedience and has now become a volunteer organization in our modern society. I really doubt if you would agree with the shift that has such a low ecclesiology today that most people can either take it or leave it when it comes to church (and it seems like more and more are choosing to leave it).

  • lym

    So let’s get this discussion really interesting . . . What would you do if you find yourself tired of the same things — the pop 40 songs, the emotionalism, the consumer-minded attendee, etc. and you think you’d like a different style (Orthodox for me) BUT you are the Pastor? And you are simultaneously very confident that God wants you to stay right where you are. How would you walk THAT tension. 🙂

    it’s the world I live in.

  • #44 dopderbeck

    Thanks for that explanation, that helps me understand the impulses of the questioner much more clearly.

  • CGC

    Hi Lym,
    You and I are in the same twilight zone episode. One can either be disillusioned where they are at or try to enjoy the best of both worlds. Inhabiting more than one world is where more and more of us are finding ourselves today. The Orthodox are my Barnabas and Evangelicals are my Timothys 🙂

  • Egregiedixit

    I am a father of five and a Catholic. I agree with #8: “continue to attend the family church as long as the kids are in the house” (assuming you want to remain a Protestant). It would be unwise, and possibly sinful, to cause instability in your home simply because of liturgical preferences.

    My recommendation is not the same if you’re interested in becoming a Catholic, in which case it would be your obligation to attend Holy Mass each Sunday. There are Catholics who are stuck in liberal parishes with a shallow liturgy, but they would never think of leaving the Church for even the most liturgically sound Anglican church.

  • RJS

    Joey Elliot (#29)

    20 years ago we joined a church with the same expectation you express.

    It was a great church to raise a family and I grew enormously in the church, including under our current lead pastor.

    In the last 3 or 4 years the leadership has transformed the church intentionally into a seeker sensitive evangelical church. It is no longer our church. The experience is a little like being told that as a chemist I should be content spending years as a spectator in a freshman general chemistry class week after week after week after week.

    Our youngest is 16 and we will stick here for another couple years (this gives my answer to the primary question in the post).

    There is no real doctrinal disagreements, and there are still personal connections – although fewer every year.

  • lym

    CGC — nice to know I’m not the only one out there. 🙂

  • Jennifer

    Let them go to the church they’re familar with. If you can keep the lines of communication open enough, maybe they will start to see some of the differences themselves.

  • EricW

    I’m not sure there was originally a single Eucharistic tradition that can claim to be the right one contra the others. Here are some observations I’ve made: http://theoblogoumena.blogspot.com/2012/06/thoughts-on-communion.html

  • I had the same thing happen to me in 1992, after 19 years in the Bible churches, and I became Catholic. The simplest (kids would say boring) Eucharist for me takes me to the Last Supper, in a quiet and humbling way – in the assembly with others. I have six kids and all but two of them prefer the evangelical style, especially the music and the fellowship with other young people who are excited about their faith. (Evangelicals have much stronger youth outreach than Catholics.) I think the small group Bible study (with decent material focused on the Gospels) is a safe place for both approaches. Catholics are still guilty of neglect of the Bible, and it’s hard to find small groups in many Catholic parishes. Evangelicals have small groups that lack content … all that seeker sensitive stuff. I like Scot McKnight’s approach, with the focus on the Gospels. I think we Catholics and the evangelicals should study the words and deeds of Jesus together.

  • metanoia

    Great topic although I don’t have time to comment at any length. My only observation is that I wish I knew if the writer had been sharing his journey along the way that led to his final conclusion of his need for more liturgical/historical church. To expect an overnight transition wold be difficult, but perhaps the father can take a step back and walk his family through this transition that may ultimately lead to their transition.

    In the meantime he should continue to speak in positive terms of the qualities that are inherent in both traditions while at the same time educating his family on why a new expression has broaden his love for Jesus and His church.cc

  • DLA

    This post describes much of the tension in my life this last year as I wrestled and prayed about the decision of changing to a different worship community. My home mega church of 20+ years no longer feels like home though I do have strong personal connections. I too am being drawn to a more liturgical style of worship, in a smaller community environment. My concern is for my kids, as they are deeply connected to their youth groups. My decision, after much prayer is to remain with the mega church and to remain actively involved.

    As an adult I can seek out and make connects that will help me to spiritually develop. I don’t believe I am sacrificing anything by remaining with the mega church because there are other options in my city, and I make the time. But on Sunday mornings I’ve made the conscience choice to worship and serve at the mega church.

    During this time in the lives of the kids I want to be involved as best that I can. For my family this is what is best. (I am single so concerns about a spouse do not apply.) My choice works for my family but others may choose differently. This is okay as each family must determine what is best for them.

  • dopderbeck

    CGC and lym – wow now that would be hard to navigate! Though I suspect it’s much more common than we might think…

  • Tim

    Saint Benedict suggests the wisdom of stability. Allow God to form you in this imperfect community.

    Bonhoeffer suggests that we give up seeking a wish dream church. We learn to relate to brothers and sisters through Christ who forgives them.

    Since I am a liturgical, ancient patterns person, maybe find another congregation to attend in the evening. Or, perhaps the local leadership would add an ancient patterning service.

  • KB

    My parents were in your shoes when I was growing up. (I’m now 35) They decided to stay at our non-denominational church because my brother and I were really involved in our youth group, and it ended up being a good decision, as others have shared, because of the community and the people that we were connected with. We never walked away from God or had a crisis of faith or anything like that. Our church could have been stronger theologically, but I don’t remember much about the details. I do, however, remember my church “family” and know that they were a big part of my learning to love going to church. The Lord had His hand on us, even at a less-than-perfect church. My vote (not that it really matters!) is to stay there for your family’s sake until the kids are on their own, and then maybe switch. Once the kids in my youth group grew up, many of the parents found other churches. I don’t think it’s uncommon. Just my 2 cents 🙂

  • Rick B

    I’ll give you testimony to my experience. I have gone to Evangelical churches all my life and love them, though my church began becoming more seeker sensitive, more relevant in terms of music and I was finding that I was getting angrier and angrier being in the service, because I felt like we were being entertained – the only scripture read was the verse of two pastor was going to preach on, prayers were generally perfunctory and music seemed like more of a performance than a congregational experience.

    About 6 years ago, we decided to try out an Anglican church that was moving into the next town. It’s an AMIA church, not Episcopal, but liturgical, evangelical, open to spiritual gifts and not particularly high church. From the moment we sat in on the first service it was like getting a drink of cold water in a desert. We had 4 long readings of scripture every week from the lectionary, we had prayers of the people where the people in the church actually took time to pray for the church around the world, for the leaders of our country (regardless of their politics), for those who need salvation, for those who are sick or otherwise burdened and to thank God for his many blessings. We had time to be quiet and repent of our sins, we jointly affirmed our belief in the truths in the Nicean Creed and we took Eucharist every week. Going forward for communion weekly has some similarities to sitting through the weekly invitation in my Baptist church growing up, but rather than wondering if I’d really accepted Jesus as my personal Lord and Saviour, I approach him every week and let him work in all those difficult areas in my life. I’d always thought that a liturgy was rote and superficial but I’ve learned that it has depth and truly speaks into my life – different parts of it at different times and I’ll reflect on those. I also find that that memory carries through to my week and the Lord brings it to mind.

    What I was missing in our seeker sensitive church was taking the time to just be with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We wanted so much not to scare people off that I think we made it harder for them to dig in, so to speak.

    I don’t know what my advice would be – my kids started going to Anglican churches before we did, because they wanted more depth – not just of ideas, but of experience and reflection.

    I’d be inclined to let my teenage kids go where they want and bless them and praise them for wanting to be in church. But if you follow where the Lord seems to be leading you, I think you’ll give your kids and wife an inkling that there is something else available if seeker sensitive becomes old and unsatisfying.

  • Dana Ames

    Yes, I get what you’re saying. As for the tension for you and lym, well, that’s where I was for several years. I was attending a local Presbyterian church because I believe Christians need to worship with a local congregation and they wanted me, I was pretty firmly planted in the Northumbria Community, and I was praying the Northumbria Community office combined with Phyllis Tickle’s “Divine Hours” daily in front of my couple of icons, with some Orthodox prayers thrown in, and in my head I thought of myself as a “Wrightian Christian.” Oy vay! But God was there, and all of that helped me stay a Christian and trust God while I was “wandering in the wilderness.”


  • Andrew

    Lym and CGC: I’m in a similar situation. I’m not a pastor, but rather a member of a prominent evangelical missions organization that appeals most strongly to a biblicist donor base. (The organization shall remain nameless, but note that I am a linguist by training.) Many of my financial and prayer partners assume that I share the assumptions of American evangelicalism. All I can say is, I sure am glad I don’t have to preach every week like you do! And CGC, I loved your comment, “The Orthodox are my Barnabas and Evangelicals are my Timothys.” Yes!

    To the original poster, Scot, and various respondents: *Thank you* for this helpful discussion. My oldest (of 3) is five years old, but my other than that, my family dynamics are similar to the original questioner’s. Plenty to reflect on here for me. Thanks.

  • Rich

    I am looking for an area of service in the community (perhaps church run, but not necessarily) for my wife and I and our two teens at the moment where I live. There are lots of good biblical reasons for doing this, of course, but the two I wanted to mention here is that it would give us something to pray about together (outside our own circumstances) and that it puts all that good theology into action. This might make it easier to be at different churches on a Sunday, because the worship, prayer and theology would all be taking place in our work/service together during the week. I realise many churches are very keen on this sort of thing, but it is also common to find “service” often only being church work.

  • dopderbeck

    RickB said: “What I was missing in our seeker sensitive church was taking the time to just be with God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We wanted so much not to scare people off that I think we made it harder for them to dig in, so to speak.”

    I respond: very well put — captures my feelings exactly!

  • Joel

    Read Peter Leithart and James Jordan. Chant Psalms or get serious about our heritage of music and liturgy. There is a Protestant resistance movement currently centered in the CREC and some LCMS churches, join it. I would add that the Anglican churches in Renew DC largely resist the awful seeker sensitive model.

  • Very late to the discussion. I’m a youth pastor in an Anglican church and have been doing youth ministry for almost two decades. I see this dilemma often where parents are growing in their faith and find a church that nourishes them. God presence in this can’t be downplayed. At the same time, adolescents have a different need (or just desire) to be in a setting that meets them culturally. I would suggest:

    1. Parents need to be a part of a church that lets them function as the Body of Christ. If you can’t do that at your present church, find one that works. If you can, ask yourself if it’s worth it for your children’s sake.

    2. Find out if your children’s experience is just fun or is a place that helps them grow in their faith. It’s probably not a black and white type of answer, but it should lean one way or the other. If they just go to have fun, let them, but make sure they are also being challenged to grow either at home or another church. They probably won’t like it as much, but also might love it after a couple of visits. That’s often the case in my context.

    3. There’s nothing wrong about families going to different churches. I wouldn’t prefer it, but as parents, you goal is healthy independence. Consider this a possible first move. But, stay involved in their experience. Know what is going on and how it effects them.

    I hope this helps some. These are never easy decisions. I am praying for you (all who posted in similar situations) and your families.

  • Amanda

    I was one of those kids who wanted to attend the big, typically-evangelical church, while my parents were called into music ministry at a different, very small church. Looking back, I think the friends and community I had at that church were what I needed at that time. It was only afterwards, in college, that I started undergoing the same transformation you describe here — and made my way into the Anglican church.

    To me, the bottom line is that you want to encourage your kids to follow Christ, wherever that takes them — and to set that example for them in the choices you make. They will notice when your faith is growing, and all of you will be better off for it.

  • James

    My new wife worships at an evangelical church; I am Roman-Catholic. I have attended routinely the seeker church with her routinely; she expresses little interest in Catholicism, even though she was raised one and will receive communion. Recently she was water baptised into the seeker church, and did not inform me. I am saddened, and am struggling with her secrecy. We have no children; I have filed for an annullment with the Catholic Church for my first marriage so that we could marry in the Catholic Church. Our marriage was done in her evangilical church, and she frequently reminds me that it is not my church. I am thinking about divorcing her, but want to do the right thing by the Gospel. Advice?

  • Egregiedixit

    @James: The right thing seems obvious. Stay with your wife.