Fall is among us in full swing! How is your schedule looking these days? My guess is it is full, really full. It seems to me we shuttle our children from event to event at a ragged pace. Why do we do this? At what cost do we do this? Is it really worth it? These questions have been tinkering around my mind for some time now as I look around me and see the crazy pace of parents hauling their children from one even to another. Please don’t take this as me judging you, or anyone for that matter; this is really just my pondering the issue of extra curricular activities as it relates to my family's relationship with God.
This summer our small group Bible study explored the book of Joshua. We came to this verse at the end of Joshua, just as summer was coming to a close, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, chose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods of which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods to the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). This verse really struck a cord with me as it related to sports and the craziness of our schedules today. I can’t help but think that the mad dash of life leads us away from God and towards the things of this world. I really want to give God priority in our home and I fear that small pulls will lead me astray.
Growing up there was never any conflict between sports and church because I wasn’t in church. That made things easy. Now, I’m a Christian and church is important to me. It is a priority for my family and me. Yes, I am a pastor, but that’s not why I go to church—if I ever reach the place where I’m going to church because I’m a pastor, I’ve got some big problems. I love church. I’m committed to worshiping, serving, and being a part of my local church because I’m a Christian. I doubt it’s exclusive to Southern California, but with our great weather there is a great pulling of people toward all sorts of events. It seems to me there are many Christian children absent from church on Sunday regularly because of commitments to athletic teams of all sorts.
Really, I’m not being legalistic at all in this. I’m simply wrestling through questions and concerns that I have. Is it okay to ever miss church? Sure, of course there are times. Will a sports commitment take priority over my commitment to church? I’m feeling more and more convicted that I need to respond, “No.”
Maybe this post is more for research. These are questions I’ve been struggling with: Can my kids participate in sports without having to decide between the sport and going to church? What happens to kids who don’t participate on Sundays? If I encourage my child that it is okay to participate in a sport that requires them to ditch church on Sundays, am I demonstrating to them that sports are more important than church?
I’m curious how other Christian parents handle these questions. I don’t think there are easy answers, but I’m starting to think that without careful thought, it is easy to get sucked into this vortex.