15.11.13

loving the church + our families

from Rachel Jankovich, author of Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches:
If you are a Christian woman who loves the Lord, the gospel is important to you. It is easy to become discouraged, thinking that the work you are doing does not matter much. If you were really doing something for Christ you would be out there, somewhere else, doing it. Even if you have a great perspective on your role in the kingdom, it is easy to lose sight of it in the mismatched socks, in the morning sickness, in the dirty dishes. It is easy to confuse intrigue with value, and begin viewing yourself as the least valuable part of the Church.
 This book stays on my night stand. I've read it four or five times and I have no plans of putting it back on a shelf any time soon - because shelves mean you've read it and don't need it often. And besides the Bible, this book has been my greatest literary comfort as a mother. Seriously. I buy it for all my pregnant friends and recommend it to anyone with young kids.

And that quote, it's so me right now. I love that the author gets it! Gets me! Especially that last sentence, because technically, I'm a church planter. Ha! One year ago this month, Brad and I planted a church. We were the only two "members" and the first tithers and Lily and Oli were the only children. It was just us and so exciting and so thrilling and hard work and long exhausting nights in my second language but so so worth it. We now have many members and are outgrowing the dance studio we meet in (after we outgrew our living room) and have baptized a few new believers and it's all awesome.

But with three kids, especially a newborn, it's easy to feel like I'm not much a part of the BIG stuff anymore. I can't go to the conferences for church planters (that are always during the week, several days long, and no-kids-allowed), I often miss large chunks of Festin Agape or Caucus or Groupe de Quartier (did I mention, it's a French church?) to care for my toddlers or baby, and I rarely know whats going on in the church that we dreamed of planting together.

But recently, God has been so kind and I've not felt the least bit insecure about it. My heart for the local church beats hard and strong. I am passionate about missiology, ecclesiology, reformed baptist theology, the city in general, and our neighbourhood (The Plateau) specifically, learning French, Quebec politics, community, the gospel, and discipleship. All things important for a church plant in our setting. But I'm also passionate about my kids, and Jesus wants that. First.

Aside from my relationship with God, my relationship with my family is foremost.
My role as a church planter is crucial and important, but my role as child-rearer and shepherd is chief.

I write this to remind myself and to encourage other women in the same situation. I don't write to free us from all responsibility elsewhere. Having a child isn't a get-out-of-serving card for the next 18 years. Women with children need to prioritize their family but also not neglect the church. So what does that look like? I think right now it means serving when we can and even when it hurts (sometimes with a baby on our laps! sometimes getting a babysitter. sometimes from home).

For each woman it will look differently of course. I don't know how many children you have or what the needs of your church are or what your capacity is. For me it means hosting group de quartier (small group) though I'm often in my kid's room wrangling them into bed. It means missing out on some church social events but to the best of my ability, never missing festin agape (Sunday worship). It means staying home with three kids under three but encouraging the girls from my church through texts and e-mails throughout the week when I can't hang out with them.

But it is so easy to fall into the thinking that I should be doing more and that raising my kids isn't ministry enough. Let us flee from that thinking, cling to the gospel, and always seek to serve, both of our families (nuclear and church) in Jesus' strength.

I'm curious, how do you maintain your service with small kids at home?
What does it look like for you?

4 comments:

  1. Great post, this is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately! I can't imagine what its like with 3 kids 3 and under, because I have 2 under 2 and I really feel this already. I can't make it out to the small groups during the week at our church because they fall fight around when I am putting my newborn to bed (a process that takes a while sometimes as you know!). And on Sundays I usually spend a large part of the service feeding, shushing, and rocking our baby (while my husband is colouring pictures with our toddler in the kids corner). We are blessed to be part of a small (~ 40 people) church where our kids are loved and included.. someone always wants to hold them and play with them and love them. But I feel like I can't contribute as much anymore.. particularly taking the time to greet new faces as I feel I am always wrapped up in my kids! I need to work on this a bit more.. but also I need to remember that this is a particular season while they are small.
    I started a mom;s group at our church and we meet once a week... not for formal bible study necessarily, but mostly to chat and fellowship.. this has been a blessing. I have been really trying to reach out to other moms, especially supporting those in the early days of motherhood, as now I know how hard it can be! It's good to be honest with each other about motherhood, that its not all rosy and we need support!
    Just a few of my rambling thoughts... :)

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  2. What a great post! I really appreciate your thoughts/encouragement on this topic. (I've also love that book, Loving the Little Years!) I often feel so torn between wanting to do more in my church, but also really soaking up my limited time with Greyson. I've had to learn to let of of certain expectations and also recognize that I can be serving in my church- but it will require more effort and organization on our part. In Aug we moved to a small town to minister in a small church. I've found this culture to be a lot easier to minister in as a mom, as opposed to living down town in a city. Partly because I'm surrounded by a lot more families, but also because it seems more socially acceptable for me to tote Greyson with me *everywhere*. One example is that Joseph and I help out with the Youth Group every week and Greyson has just become another member of that community. We thought about getting a weekly babysitter, but in the end the other leaders said they thought it was a natural way for the teenagers to get to know us and bond with our family. :) I actually love it. There are some things I still want to be involved in, but simply can't. For now what I can do, I do. I think once Baby Becker #2 comes in the new year we'll have another period of adjustment.... but for now, it feels like we've found a bit of a rhythm that works for us.

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  3. I haven't read this book but it sounds really good. Since having kids, I have found ways to serve but have more so struggled to engage in and enjoy traditional Sunday morning church because I have to be so focused on making sure my baby is quiet and not disturbing others. I often have to leave the service with Ophelia since she's super shy so I haven't been successful at leaving her in childcare. I can easily end up feeling like I got nothing out of church and thinking that I might as well have been at home

    Outside of Sunday mornings, however, I have found some good ways to serve in ministry because we are "in mibistry" and our job offers a high degree of flexibility and freedom). Wehave a lot of people in for meals and I disciple students here at home while Ophelia plays or naps. Darren sometimes watches the kids so I can meet students on campus.

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  4. Anonymous17.11.13

    I just started following your blog recently and LOVE it, so Thank You for sharing your life and wisdom w/ us!!
    So, I have struggled with this issue since my baby was born 19 months ago! I was such a stressed out mess for the first few months (okay more like the first year) trying to balance church, home, and work. My genuine heart’s desire has always been to be Kingdom first! But often I felt like I was Kingdom 4th or 5th,depending on if my baby napped, eaten well or not. I learned that it came down to working with what is in my hand and being faithful with what is in my sphere of influence. I found ways to serve at church (since that is an important lifestyle I want to cultivate in my sons life) and found other ways that work for me (like serving from home, entering info into church database while my baby naps). The thing is that everything is in seasons; I want to enjoy the season for what it is and not be robbed from it by thinking I can’t contribute or that I am missing out because of it...that is just not truth, you know what I mean?
    Xoxo
    Nallely

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