I’ll never forget the church I considered my church when I was growing up.
Fallbrook First Baptist Church, in Fallbrook, California… land of the avocado groves.
We went to several churches over the first 18 years of my life, but it’s the one where my memories and faith were solidified.
It’s the church where I hid in the baptismal, peering up over the edge during prayer time, my friend and I holding our breath when the door accidentally locked behind us and we were forced to spend the entire service with our backs pressed flat against the sticky vinyl of the tub.
It’s the church where my initials and a friend’s are carved in the side panel along the balcony, where his paper airplanes may still be wedged into the recessed lighting panels.
It’s the church where we gathered paint buckets and adventured our way across the border towards Mexico, fixing houses and sipping sweet coke from real glass bottles while smacking Chiclets gum.
Where we sang “Friends are Friends Forever” and “Go West Young Man” as we piled into large vans, with our teams of VBS kids headed for Sea World.
It’s also the church where I felt most connected.
Where my youth pastor Chris Brown, probably 5 years our senior, made a relationship with Christ look like something I wanted.
It’s where we held the memorial and wept when Justin, a close friend, died and we were just sixteen and for the first time I longed for Heaven.
It’s where I first started really reading my Bible, where I first started telling others about my faith in Jesus.
It’s where Jim Trail, our other youth pastor, bought a house across the street from our high school, so we could meet for morning prayer and then slip through his back fence, making it to class before the first bell rang.
It’s the place where church became a family and all those names in the picture I drew above were really–
God’s Church in my life.
For the past 16 years my husband and I have been at the same church here in Oregon.
All but 6 months of our marriage has grown in the rich, healthy soil of this local church family.
Our first parenting conference was within the walls of this church and I remember that day well because it was the day we learned we were expecting our first child.
Now, 16 years later we’ve added five children to our family.
And our church family has journeyed with us down the road of adoption.
They’ve wept with us through the loss of a child.
Her ashes are buried under a tree that flowers each spring on the church property.
It’s where we have surrogate “aunts” and “uncles” who truly pray for our children, where friendships are vulnerable and long-suffering through struggles.
There has been accountability and love and discipleship and it’s where our own children now are–
We’ve stood before our church family and have dedicated each child, giving our promises as parents,
Also receiving promises from them to partner with us as we prayerfully try to raise these little ones to know and love and follow their Heavenly Father wholeheartedly.
I’ve thought about it a lot–
The powerful relationship that can exist between a church and a home.
That’s the main reason I was so thankful when I was asked to review Dr. Tim Kimmel’s new book, Connecting Church and Home.
Kimmel’s parenting books have been a huge encouragement to us over the years and as “we are faced with a culture of busy churches and overwhelmed families that need a clear plan to pass a spiritual legacy to the hearts of their kids. Kimmel shows how churches and parents can work together in a grace-based partnership to make each other’s efforts more impactful.”
For church ministry leaders, this book offers a framework that can be tailored and applied to any church that has a heart for coming alongside parents.
For parents, this book offers some practical and simple ways to be intentional about spiritual influence and passing on a legacy to children.
This book is much more than a how-to-step-by-step-formula though.
Kimmel warns against a focus that becomes “more about the child’s outward behavior, sin-management, and spiritual image control” (5).
“The goal of a church’s family ministry is to connect to the heart of each individual family leader in such a way that it better prepares parents to develop a heart connection to their kids that subsequently inclines those kids towards a deeper love for the Lord and kindness toward others” (23).
We hear the word grace thrown around a lot this days, sometimes with misuse.
Kimmel is known for his grace-based-parenting approach.
And this book is a call to a grace-based-partnership between the church and home.
But Kimmel makes it clear that “Grace isn’t passive towards sin. It clearly upholds the moral and relational guidelines of the Bible and disciplines children when they make mistakes. But it always does it graciously, without cultivating shame and with the child’s best interest in mind. Grace is…saturated with hope” (72, 81).
I really appreciated Chapter 9 in this book, where Kimmel outlines 13 specific, “strategic opportunities for parents to do some significant connecting to and equipping of their children for an adult life of faith” (113).
His suggestions are not formulaic, but they are intentional.
He also points to ways that churches can come alongside parents and equip them to make the most of the opportunities within each child’s life.
This section, in particular, was meaningful for me as a parent and it made me thankful for the way we’ve experienced this type of support and teaching and encouragement from our church family.
I appreciated this book and definitely would recommend it to parents and also church ministry leaders as a thought-provoking resource.
More information about Connecting Church & Home can be found at:
Dr. Kimmel is offering one of his Connecting Church & Home books for free in a giveaway that will be running on our site from now until next Wednesday.
Please use the rafflecopter below to enter.