On Sunday morning, during the portion of the service when the kids were listening to their story from The Gospel Storybook Bible, the reader asked the kids if they could think of another time in Israel’s history when a golden calf made an appearance. My son put up his hand, and when invited, offered the correct response.
In jest, a dad sitting in front of me turned around, jokingly rolled his eyes, and said something to the effect of “Pastor’s kid.” Not in jest, I replied with words to the effect of “He knows the answer because his dad’s a Christian, not because his dad’s a pastor.”
I really hope I didn’t sound like a jerk saying that, because, I’ll be honest here, my family is my hot spot. I’m incredibly sensitive to the level of exposure my kids have with my being in ministry and I want to do all I can to ensure that the standard they are called to is the same biblical standard every kid in the church is called to: repent, believe the gospel, and upon believing, walk worthy of that gospel. Debunking the myth that a minister’s or missionary’s kids are somehow automatically holier than any other sinful-nature-inherting-sprog in the church is healthy for us. Thankfully, by God’s grace, I mustn’t have come across too strong because that brief exchange wasn’t the last word. Either that, or God’s grace was at work despite how I said what I did. You’ll have to keep reading for the rest of the story.
Before we get there though, while we’re at it, there’s another myth worth debunking: dads who are not pastors are called to a lower standard than dads who are pastors . Don’t get me wrong here, if a pastor isn’t doing his job as a father, he shouldn’t be serving as an elder or deacon in the church. If a guy can’t oversee the little church that meets in his home he has absolutely no business overseeing a local church. 1 Timothy 3: 4 makes that pretty clear:
He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?
But as dads we can’t read into this: if you’re not a pastor, you’re off the hook. The same biblical injunctions apply to every single Christian father without exception. Take Ephesians 6:4, for example,
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
There’s no qualification here. There isn’t one standard for pastor dads and non-pastor dads.
Now, when we grab onto that, what happens is fantastic. After the service, the same dad came up to me and said these wonderful words, for which I commend him, and thank God for: “Challenge accepted. I need to read more Bible stories to my kids.”
What a terrific response! He got it, and if you’re a dad sitting there reading this realizing the same, the tough part is the follow through. Challenge maybe the word coming to mind for you, or even daunting, so, in an effort to make life a little easier, here a few recommended places you could start:
The Gospel Storybook Bible – This is the book we’ve been reading in church for a little while now. I test drove this one at home with our boys before we started running with it during our services. This will keep you going for quite some time with over 150 chapters or so. What I appreciate about each story is the way it concludes by pointing to the Lord Jesus.
The Jesus StoryBook Bible – Here’s another book we read at home and then ended up using in our services for our church kids. It’s worth buying the version with the audio cd. The readings are extremely engaging, great for a bedroom or a road trip.
My ABC Bible Verses from the Psalms – Don’t let the title fool you. Each chapter connects what’s going on in the lives of Missy and Bill and their family with a verse from the Psalms. The intent is that each verse can be memorized and throughout the course of the book covers the whole of Psalm 100. Our kids enjoyed this one and we’ve read through it a couple of times.
Big Truths for Little Kids – We have yet to read the stories in each chapter of this book but the catechism questions are excellent. “What’s catechism?”, you say. Read this. As a method of teaching, it works starting at a very young age, like, 2 years old. Though the concepts may be massive for a young mind, as parents we want to teach truths that are big enough for our kids to grow up into. Also, the upside is that it’s payback for the hundreds and hundreds of questions kids ask parents every single day. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.
The Ology – This one is next on our list, by the same author as the Gospel Storybook Bible, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.
So, click a link, order a book, start reading, and see what happens. Before you know it, your kids may be the ones bringing the book to you rather than you bringing it to them!