The main reason we went is to get some inspiration, ideas, ANYTHING to help our little youth group's worship band. We did come home with some really good action items (#1, don't show up and say, "Hey, what do you want to sing tonight?"). Yes, we need help!
At one point in the conference, one of the speakers said, "How many of you have grown up in church?" Almost everyone raised their hands, including my kids.
I was distinctly aware of that fact as the weekend progressed. I wondered if some of the kids there weren't already "churched out." Have they heard the message so many times that they aren't really hearing it any more? Have they been "doing church" for so long they know how to play the game? I wonder sometimes if my OWN kids aren't churched out!
More than anything I want my kids to have a heart for God...not just "doing church" out of duty or because it's "the thing to do." I pray constantly that He will get ahold of them in whatever way He can. No amount of church attendance, volunteering, or "programs" can manufacture what only God can do.
And yet...I think a certain amount of involvement is important. So that gets me to thinking (okay, about to get random here): Am I looking at my kids' commitments the same way I look at my own (or am I expecting more of them)? Am I willing to let go of my own ideas of what my kids are "good at" and let God give them a desire to do something? Am I okay with them doing *gulp* nothing for a while? =)
Allie loves to sing but (even after an inspiring conference) is not always real hip on serving in the worship band, even though it seems to be going well. We have the usual issues of personalities, varying levels of talent, etc. I'd love for the kids to be uber mature and overlook all that. I think, But you love to worship! or You are so talented! or Who else is there (in our teeny tiny church) that would take your place? or (sadly) I'm the adult leader, for crying out loud!
Mostly the problem (with all of us!) is when the "fun" wears off. Right now we are doing our best to make it awesome (it HAS gotten better since the beginning), and I'm just holding the kids accountable to keep their original commitment to the end of the school year. Even that's been a bit of a struggle, but maybe that's to be expected with only two months to go until summer.
I think my parents did a good job of this - even though we were surrounded by "ministry," when we got to be teens, they didn't drag us everywhere, force us to do more than we felt comfortable, or worst of all, make us feel that we were "on display." Maybe they knew that by the time you get to be a teen, you have to have some wiggle room to let the dust settle so that what you've grown up believing can become your own.
I want to find that balance...somewhere between encouraging our kids to plug in, challenging them to stretch themselves - and knowing when to just back off!
***Edited to add, in answer to katherine's comment, below***Here is a post from a while back that is my "takeaway" from growing up in a ministry family. Be sure to read the comments on that post, too:
Setting my priorities straight