In his book, Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family, Paul David Tripp makes a great point about a way that we think wrongly about parenting. He says that when we discipline our kids “we want parenting to be a series of events rather than a lifelong process.” He goes on to say, “Parenting is not a series of dramatic confrontation-confession events, but rather a life-long process of incremental awareness and progressive change.”
If you have kids, I don’t know if you identify with that as I do. I want to have this “come to Jesus” conversation with my kid after they mess up and then, poof, everything is magically better. Why do I expect that when that is rarely how I respond in my own life? When God, or someone else, makes me aware of my sin it is generally a process of Him working that out in me. Rarely is it an immediate 180 degree change in behavior and heart.
I believe this thought can be expanded. It applies to our spiritual lives. Genuine deepening of our relationship with God doesn’t happen in the “big events” nearly as effectively as it does in the simple, day-to-day, week-to week rhythms such as reading our Bible daily, praying, serving, and being faithful in church. We want the “big event” magic answers that get us where we want to be spiritually.
This concept also applies to how we lead our ministries. In kid and youth ministries, big events are a big deal. VBS, camps, Fall Fests, retreats, etc… take a lot of budget, a lot of time, and a lot of energy. They provide valuable experiences for kids. However, I think too often we focus more on these big events and neglect the immense value that comes in the routine.
Too often we allow Wednesday’s and Sunday’s to just be fillers in between big events. They don’t get nearly the focus, energy, or intentionality as the big things. That is so backwards and we have all done it. Over the years I have tried to adjust my own focus. The regular, consistent rhythm needs to be your main event. The week-in, week-out consistency is where kids’ spiritual growth happens, highlighted by the big event “mountain top” experiences.
Taking this even a step further, equipping and encouraging kids to develop their own spiritual habits helps them develop their own process of discipleship. They will grow so much more if their whole spiritual development is not dependent solely on the “event” of Sunday or Wednesday. The daily, non-eventful habits of being in God’s word will revolutionize who they are. And us too.