Letter to a Middle-School Mom whose kid sometimes “hates” church

33 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.

Luke 21:33 (NKJV)

By Bro. John L. Cash

Dear Anne,

Thanks so much for bringing your middle school age son, Atticus, by to visit with me today. He is a joy, and I love him in the Lord so very much. He reminds square peg round holeme a lot of myself when I was his age; like me, he’s the “square peg” that’s never going to fit into the “round hole” of what passes for normal in junior high school. But that’s OK. He has a very good heart, he feels things very deeply, and he wants to do good things in this world. When you scrape it all off, you can’t ask for much more than that.

You seemed upset when Atticus told me that sometimes he “hates the Church.” Seriously, Anne, I’m not worried about him at all, but I’m quite worried about you. You flushed bright red, and you got that blotchy stuff on your neck that angry moms get. I think you misunderstood what Atticus was trying to tell me.

When he said, “Sometimes I hate the Church” he wasn’t talking about the holy-called-out-assembly for which Christ Jesus shed His blood. What he was talking about was his dislike for the over-kill and “bloat” that passes for Christianity, and which is inseparably connected with it in this present day. Atticus has no problem accepting Jesus and His gospel. People have just added too many (in the words of Bugs Bunny) “accoutrements.”

Anne, I understand what Atticus said. And, I must confess, I agree with him.

After all, we understand that kids are under a tremendous amount of peer pressure to fit in. In American teenage culture, you’re expected to be physically attractive, athletic, and to wear the right clothes and the right shoes. What parents are failing to realize is that there’s also a “peer pressure” in the Evangelical church movement.

Think about it: If a young person in youth group said he didn’t like monastic Gregorian chants or bluegrass gospel music, nobody would say he wasn’t a Christian (even though these are both prominent types of Christian music.) However, if the same young person said he didn’t like the church praise-and-worship band, he’d probably be labeled as some kind of freak. Worse than that, I’ve known youth groups that have said that such a teen “isn’t right with God.”

So, you should be proud of Atticus, not upset with him. He’s smarter than most kids and is more perceptive than many adults. He’s not going to have non-essentials forced upon him. And, face it. A lot of things that Christian kids have forced upon them are fads. They were created by corporations to make money. And like all fads and fashions, they soon go out of style.

Nobody is wearing a “WWJD” bracelet any more. No church group is watching “The Passion of the Christ.” No church is leading a study on “The Purpose Driven Life” or “The Prayer of Jabez.” These things were very good and popular in their heyday. But now these fads have run their course and can be purchased from a bin at the ninety-nine-cents store.

stain glass windowSo if Atticus isn’t bowled over by all these “temporary” things, don’t get so bent out of shape. You see, Anne, the only thing that matters in life is what we do with Jesus Christ. Most of what gets tacked on to Him is popular for only a short time.

In my way of thinking, if your kids believe all the things listed in The Apostles’ Creed, they’re off to a smashing start. Atticus believes those things. He’s made a decision on his own to be baptized into Jesus Christ. Just start there, and build on.

So rejoice and be glad. Always encourage your son in his most holy faith. Pray and relax. As my theology professor used to tell me, “God doesn’t lose too many of His own.”

I have more to write to you, but it’ll have to wait until next week. Have a great one.


Brother John

john l cashDr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 29 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days has a desk-job at a public school, where he used to teach Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the weather has been sunny and beautiful this week.) Their kids include Spencer (age 23), his wife Madeline (age 23), and Seth (age 20).