Children Unplugged — The Sequel
They couldn't resist! Brad and Wayne had so much feedback from their previous podcast on being involved with children outside the box, that they wanted to share some of it with you and continue the dialog. As you will see, this is not just an issue for parents, but for all of Father's family. Responding to children as a vital part of our lives and our engagement with the body will not only enrich them, but ourselves as well.
Wayne and Brad!
Thanks for your encouragement.
My wife, daughter and I came into this new life “outside the box” by accident, I think! Early in our 29 years of marriage we took our three-year old to the mission field with YWAM. Many people thought we were crazy to just pick up and follow Jesus into southeast Asia and they particularly felt that we were going to destroy our child’s life and opportunities by taking her there.
Of course, one of the best kept secrets of most frontier missionaries is that they practically never go
to “church”! We just lived our life following Jesus and included our kids in that and they each “caught”
a genuine love for God and an active relationship with Him.
Everything wasn’t perfect. Our second child, born in Japan, was our only son and at the age of 13 he
died of a lifelong inherited gene defect. Our oldest daughter (the one we took to Asia when she was three) is 26 years old, married and the mother of two boys. She is a worshiper and song-writer serving with her husband and sons at a place that is dedicated to 24-hour worship and intercessory prayer.
When we returned three years ago from a two-year stint in Turkey, we were welcomed back by our
sending church and offered opportunities to serve there, but the Holy Spirit began on the first Sunday
morning to whisper in my ear and my wife’s ear simultaneously that we didn’t belong there. We left
quietly during the greeting time and went to a coffeeshop. Our youngest daughter, who is 11
years old, was thrilled (this reminded her of trips to the coffeeshop we used to make while we were in
Turkey) and the next Sunday she asked us if we could please go to the coffeeshop again instead of
For three years now we have been having fellowship over meals and coffee with the people
who really love us (some from the church we used to attend) and have been thriving in our ever-deepening relationship with Jesus (we just love Him!) Many of our old acquaintances don’t understand why we are staying away, but most of them are convinced that we must be doing this in obedience to God.
From time to time we try going back to “our old church” but each time, although everyone shakes
our hands or hugs us saying, “It’s good to see you… see you again next week!”, we still feel like
we don’t belong there. So until the Lord sends us back, if ever, we will just keep following Him and let
Him teach us and our daughter how to love Him with all our hearts.
Nearly four years ago, we had been pondering life at the edge of the box with the windows open, when the box blew up and we found ourselves outside.
“Is God big enough?” is the question we’ve repeatedly asked. He was big enough to heal our deep grief and show us that this disaster was a much-needed change in our lives. He was big enough to watch over us as we stepped “out of covenant ,” and “out from under God’s umbrella of authority,” and into the great unknown. Amazingly, Father seems to have a pretty good handle on the “being God” thing.
Our family (four girls, now ages 5 – 14) began our journey into unschooling and unchurching at that time in 2001. I have really enjoyed the past two podcasts. They help affirm that we’re not being negligent or lazy, and that even as we make our mistakes, Father is big enough to hold our children’s hearts and guide them into the journey which they must discover for themselves.
I sometimes panic that we could be doing more to prepare them and keep their journey “safe”… buying maps, flashlights, pith helmets, bug repellant, hiking boots, and heavy duty raincoats, and… and… and then I have a picture of four girls weighed down with “everything they’ll ever need, so that they will always be prepared.” I see them standing at the entrance of their journey, all of that baggage hanging on them, and they’re forever soured on ever stepping into the middle of the path and actually moving. How tragic! Better to inch our way into the jungle together, wrong turns and all, and trust that as we need something, it will be there. Better to trust that the thrill of the adventure will entice them to continue when they grow beyond us in a few years. Actually being on the journey is far more fulfilling and exciting than a life spent preparing for something and never really stepping into it.
Ah, but it’s easy to lose all of that wonderful imagery when you’re walking out the little steps day by day. Too easy to compare to others, to feel inadequate and ill-prepared, to keep searching for that magic guarantee. Too hard to admit that in this area of my deepest responsibility, I can not do this on my own. I *must* trust that He is, yet again, big enough. Thank you for your words of encouragement and affirmation. They have been very timely for us. Just knowing we’re not alone is a comfort.
So onto my next question… (not quite sure where to put it)…
Worship. Music. Study and prayer time with other believers. We don’t have a group with whom we meet, just a family or three that we hang with. Loose fellowship isn’t a problem – the husbands hanging out, our kids playing together, chatting on the phone, etc. But it seems that we never really get to anything meaty as a group, because we’re never all together. (FYI: We’re all around 40-ish, in the throes of raising our families, each couple having 3 or 4 kids, ages 4 to 14ish.)
I would like to have some more focused prayer and study time occasionally. I do enjoy worship with music. However, nothing ever happens spontaneously. As a former worship leader who can “turn it on” as needed, getting together for “worship time” seems formulaic and fake for me. To plan anything seems to be building another daggone box, and that’s even if people had time to commit to a regular get-together.
I’m not really sure how to ask my question. I’m not seeking a “how to do it” as much as maybe some anecdotal info? I hear Wayne, Brad, and some of the interviewees mentioning their gatherings, and am curious how you end up having everyone together. We’ve talked about opening our home for a few hours each week or two, and having anyone over who wants to come. But again, to then sit down and try to do something more “spiritual” while we’re there just seems to be forcing something.
We have picnics, bonfires, or other group get-togethers – once a month or so. But there doesn’t seem to be much of a “group” dynamic spiritually, where there is a “God building His church” community developing – at least that you can see with your eyes. There doesn’t seem to be much deep koinonia happening as a group. I know I feel rather unfulfilled in that area, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect deep conversation, sharing, and ministry to one another to happen as a group from time to time. Maybe this is just a season for us?
Are you planning on activating the Forums section of your site, Wayne and Brad? It might be useful for people to be able to interact (sort of like using the podcasts and the spawning ground for conversation threads).
I struggle so often times as well, looking for more of how to live this life in Jesus with others. One thing that I have been involved in is a weekly fellowship time with a few brothers. We have a time of prayer and sharing and then spend time going through either a book of the bible or another book that we’ve decided to read together (currently we’re reading, “Enjoying the Presence of God” by Jan Johnson). We don’t hold to some tight schedule or program but rather use the book as a spring board to share our joys and struggles. Perhaps this might work for you and those you get together with. Just a thought.
ps- It’s exciting to read about others’ journeys here. I haven’t listened to this podcast yet but looking for to it.
Hi Wayne & Brad – thanks for the series on children unplugged. I agree wholeheartedly with the whole thing! I especially appreciated the comments about keeping the children as part of the group and also about families being too busy to really get to know one another and help one another. I come into contact with a group of families on a regular basis due to my work, and this overscheduling is everywhere. The families really pay a high price for it. One of my own, very creative, children who is now an adult, told me that one of the best things we did was to give her time for thinking and dreaming. That doesn’t happen when we are scheduled from sunup till bedtime with activities. There needs to be plenty of time for building the relationships.
Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the podcasts – I look forward to them every time. It’s a great companion on the journey.
Brad and Wayne… Thanks for your thoughts as well as what others shared. Great stuff.
Howdy from Texas!
I just want to thank yâ€™all for what youâ€™re doing. I have been listening to â€œChildren Unplugged I & IIâ€ over the past couple of days, and wow has it been great for me! What an encouragement. I also wanted to say that I SO love your sense of humor! It’s sad, but humor and laughter are sorely lacking in the Christian world. My family absolutely loves to get together and laugh, and when I listened to you guys, it made me feel like I was listening to family.
My husband and I have been on a long journey out of performance-based religion. A few months ago we left our â€œclubâ€, as you call it. We are now meeting pretty regularly with my mom and dad and sister and her family. It has been very refreshing, to say the least.
This perspective yâ€™all gave on raising kids has been very confirming for me. It has been what God has been revealing to me and to my husband for awhile now.
God has been showing us that we need to take the burden of â€œgetting our kids to Himâ€ off of ourselves and put it back on His shoulders. I am realizing that the Holy Spirit can woo my children, just like He can woo me. Itâ€™s not my job to make something happen, and if I try to it will only backfire.
The â€œclubâ€ we came out of was a pretty conservative one. There was a lot of emphasis on performance. The majority of the children there were really well behaved, but there was a tangible lack of joy there. As you know, we model our relationship w/the Lord for our children whether it is good or bad. Many of the parents there modeled a relationship with Jesus that was based on their behavior.
The children were â€œrightâ€ with Mom and Dad and â€œrightâ€ with God when their performance was â€œrightâ€. What resulted was a lot of burnt out parents who didnâ€™t feel the freedom to say they were miserable (or in some cases even realize it). We fear that many of the children and teenagers will face this same burn-out as soon as their youthful exuberance wears off.
What you were saying about parents feeling like if they do all the right things, God will have to bless them is so true. We know so many families that live that way, and they are miserable. We are so thankful that God has freed us from that wrong way of thinking!
Whatâ€™s amazing is the incredible pull that mentality has on people. The thing is, we can actually get some great results in our flesh and be convinced weâ€™re doing the right thing. â€œPretty fleshâ€ is what Steve McVey (author of Grace Walk) calls it. When we see others getting â€œresultsâ€ we think they must be doing something right. We Christians love to get on bandwagons, donâ€™t we? That is why the message you are getting out there is so desperately needed! I know, yâ€™all should write a book! Hey Iâ€™ve even got a title for you, â€œSeven Steps to Help You Stop Trying to Raise Godly Childrenâ€ Ha! Just kidding!
Seriously, though, trusting the Holy Spirit to transform us and transform our children is an exciting and sometimes scary adventure. Iâ€™ll sure take it over living that boring, stressful, worrisome life in the box!
Whoa! Sorry this is so long!
Thanks again and God bless!
I’m new to your website and am catching up on the podcasts, so I’m just now listening to this one… you’re talking about how there are no perfect parents BUT there WAS a perfect parent – God. And look how Adam and Eve still turned out. 🙂 I heard that statement from someone awhile ago and it helped put some things in perspective.
I’ve always disliked listening to “talk radio” but your podcast is the first I’ve really been interesting in continuing to listen to and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I love hearing you two laugh. The podcasts with your laughter are my favorites.
About the pissed off thing… did you know that this word is in the Bible several times (KJV even – for those who swear by that version – haa, no pun intended). See I Samuel 25, I Kings chapters 14, 16, 21, II Kings chapters 9 and 18, and Isaiah 36.
Thank you for all you have to say about freedom in Christ. I’m in need of some freedom and I’m so thankful God has directed me to you.
Oops, should’ve kept listening through the whole podcast before I posted my reply… you ended up saying what I wrote! Duh.