By Pastor Rick Lamb
Special to the Corsicana Daily Sun
Dear Educators, Coaches, Leaders of Organizations that work with children and youth:
Thank you! Thank you for the fine work you do (much of it on a volunteer basis) to help the young people in our city and county learn more about life and its wide variety of options. Thank you when you live up to the level of being an example for them to model and from which to learn. Thank you for the work you do (often unnoticed) to help kids have a better life than they otherwise would have. You are making a difference, and I thank you!
I also want to make a request: Please try your best to honor the necessary and time-honored tradition of spiritual training for young people. Through the years, Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights have been reserved for church activities, Bible studies, worship services, and valuable cohesion-building opportunities for the family unit.
Over the past few decades, however, coaches, school personnel, and other organizations have begun to use Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings for their own purposes. We all realize that there are only so many hours in a week, and the various opportunities one can be involved in are many, but can I ask you to please consider how important it is to allow a family the opportunity to worship (if they desire) on Sunday morning and for some additional training for an hour or hour-and-a-half on Wednesday nights?
If you schedule a meeting, practice, game, or other activity on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, each family is faced with a decision: either go to church or go to the event. If it’s a practice, then the family also knows that if they miss the practice, their son/daughter might be penalized and not allowed to play in the game on one of the following nights. They don’t want their kids to appear as non-supportive of the team or event, but they also know the importance of spiritual training.
You may or may not have a religious belief, but the vast majority of people in our town and city do have religious beliefs. The overwhelming majority also meet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Therefore, out of respect for other people’s beliefs, why not let them be totally free on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights?
It’s important to learn athletic skills, and I know that there are a lot of coaches who model sportsmanship and demonstrate high ideals in the way they conduct themselves, but nothing can replace the opportunity for a family to study the Bible and worship together on Sunday mornings. Wednesday nights are also a time of training children and youth to be good, moral, upstanding people who honor God with their lives. Jesus said it is possible to gain the whole world (athletic, hobbies, education, career, etc.) and still lose his/her soul. The soul is eternal, while the events we are practicing and training for are not.
Please understand also: not every church has an early service to which members and guests can attend. The vast majority of worship services are from 11 a.m. to noon. Why not let the family worship together? Let them eat a Sunday meal together. Give them the full opportunity for the development of their souls on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
I can anticipate some rebuttal: “But, Pastor Rick, Christian people can decide for themselves. They can either attend or not attend.”
Yes, that’s true, and if more Christians decided not to attend other events on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, it might have an impact. But Christian people are often persuaded by their kids (who have less experience, but control of the “heart strings”) and other adults to forego the spiritual development for the sake of a game or event. Quite often, later in life, they realize they missed a small window of opportunity to really help their kids learn about God.
When I pastored in another town, I had a young man who demonstrated incredible knowledge and thirst for the things of God. He was always asking me about some aspect of our faith; always reading and learning and growing his soul. Sadly, however, around the age of 11 or 12, he got pulled away by the other (secular) interests that almost any town has available. His parents said, “We’ll pray when we are at the game. We will make sure to teach our kids lessons about God at the events.” I know they had good intentions, but I saw this young man slowly, but steadily, slip away from his hunger and thirst for matters of faith. The last I saw of him, he was getting ready for college and completely lost interest in matters regarding his soul.
Please understand that decisions you make about games, practices, meetings, and events have an eternal impact. I’m not demanding anything or trying to be legalistic about this. I appreciate the dedicated volunteers in our whole area. I support you in trying to make a difference.
I am requesting, however, you respect the eternal needs of the souls of those with whom you work.
“Pastor Rick” Lamb
Northside Baptist Church