Tag Archives: Individualism
A childless millennial’s quest to become a “kid person.”
To say I don’t have kids is an understatement. I barely interact with children, save for brief conversations with friends and fellow churchgoers with offspring in tow.
I can’t remember the last time I changed a diaper, pushed a stroller, or let a kid win at board games. When a friend passed her newborn to me this spring, I admitted it had been years since I held a baby.
And in 2014, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s no longer a given in our society that every woman, or even every married woman, will have kids or want to have kids.
Absolutely, marriage and family remain a priority in Christian and evangelical circles. It may seem like a week doesn’t go by without another pregnancy announcement popping up on Facebook or another desperate plea to help with the full church nursery, but in general, Americans are having fewer kids. Actually, fewer kids than ever.
Among us childbirth-delaying millennials, it’s not uncommon for whole circles of friends—20-somethings and 30-somethings—to be childfree. We live in a society where we have fewer opportunities to interact with children because, in general, everybody—our brothers and sisters (if we have siblings—more of us are only children than ever), our classmates, our coworkers, our neighbors—are less likely to have them.
Here’s how TIME outlined the numbers in its “The Childfree Life” cover story:
The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history, which includes the fertility crash of the Great Depression. From 2007 to 2011, the most recent year for which there’s data, the fertility rate declined 9%.
A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s.
Even before the recession hit, in 2008, the proportion of women ages 40 to 44 who had never given birth had grown by 80%, from 10% to 18%, since 1976, when a new vanguard began to question the reproductive imperative.
For married women who don’t have kids, or simply don’t have kids yet, an increasingly childless culture can take the pressure off. There are still people who badger, “When are you going to have kids?,” but that question doesn’t come up as much when surrounded by kid-free friends.
And not only do some childless folks not want kids of their own, they also don’t want to be around other people’s kids. Our worst kid-hatred comes out during travel (leading to a new airline class “for the child-intolerant” in Asia), but also atrestaurants, in movies, and on Facebook.
Some of the most unabashedly childfree won’t keep their preferences secret when faced with rambunctious offspring. They’ll tell you in a “no-offense,” joking tone: “That’s why I’m never having kids.” Or, “Aren’t you sick of them?” Deep down, they mean it.
Parents, of all people, are in on it too. Social media updates gripe about their kids of all ages, as if they’re a part of the anti-kid PR team: Pregnancy’s gross! Babies are a mess! Kids interfere with your plans! The whole thing is too expensive!
The most talked about parenting book of the year, Jennifer Senior’s New York Times bestseller, All Joy and No Fun, argued that happiness may be a misguided expectation for childrearing. “Senior scrupulously chronicles the lack of fun. The joy, she admits, is difficult to quantify,” writes onereview.
Parents also gush about their kids—but the conversation about children can so quickly skew negative, with rarely any pushback for the child-averse. No one dares to question a person who “just doesn’t like kids.”
There are plenty of single people and childless people who love kids, but for a while, I was not one of them. Never struck with baby fever, I distanced myself from children and occasionally repeated smug lines about the perks and freedoms of childlessness.
That changed once my best friend revealed to me earlier this year that she was going to have a baby. I didn’t have to fake my excitement; I started crying right in the baby section of Target, where I happened to be shopping for a gift when she called. I knew this was not going to be some tiny human that I could nod approvingly toward and then ignore. This was my best friend’s baby, and both of them were going to be a part of my life for a long time.
I started paying more attention to the mothers I knew and to their kids—no matter how sad their fussy faces, how sticky their fingers, how nonsensical their questions. I willed myself to like them. I reminded myself that there were many topics that Jesus was silent on in Scripture, but how we should treat children was not one of them.
In Mark, Jesus takes a child into his arms and tells the disciples, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me” (Mark 9:36-37, ESV). In Matthew, he says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). The Savior of the world is not too busy or too holy for playtime. His call to care for children is as direct and straightforward as, “Love thy neighbor.” Even if your neighbor can’t quiet talk or walk or read yet.
Little by little, my fear and dismissal of parenting has grown into downright awe. I still find kids to be annoying and needy and cringe at wailing babies and dripping toddler noses, but I’m trying. There are lessons to be learned from the mouths of babes.
People may have a range of reasons for not wanting or not liking children, but I realized that my kid-aversion had its roots in a familiar, dark place: my desire for control. As every parent will tell you, and has told me, kids don’t come with a foolproof guide. From the littlest moments (Why are you crying?) to the biggest questions (How will you turn out?), we won’t always be able to figure them out, to program them, to raise them perfectly. Even as a non-parent, that frustrates me and scares me.
The childless-inept, perhaps, can remember that Christ is with us in the nursery and at babysitting time too. It is God who qualifies us, who takes our obedient, open-hearted not enoughs and multiplies them to more than we expect.
Through out my life in the Church, I have been involved with music. I was part of the music team, or I was singing with the congregation. Most people would be able to relate with this because if you go to church, you take part in singing with the congregation every Sunday morning. I love being able to praise and worship God through music, especially playing bass guitar on the music team. But are we singing more about ourselves? To be honest, more and more of the top “worship” songs that come out seem to be more focused on me, myself, and I. If we are singing songs in a congregation setting, shouldn’t it be more about us, and we? Even, less about us would be a good step to take! Some songs don’t even mention God by name! I know America is defined by individualism, but this is an area that we are letting it slip into our churches and subtle into how we think about Christianity in general. Is this a major issue? It could become that. But for now, it’s just something that has become accepted into our Christian world. But have we lost community thinking in our churches? Year by year there has been a slow decay of this thinking to the point where I believe, it has become a foreign and almost look down upon thought.
There is a solution! I know of a Church that is aware of this issue, and has been substituting individualistic words with community words such as “we” and “us”. This could possibly be the best way of changing people’s mind about community. Company’s do it all the time, and it works all the time. What other ways would we be able to change our thinking to a more of community thinking?
What do you think about placing the Bible on the floor? For some reason every time I see a Bible on the floor, it erks me in a way that I never feel with anything else. Could this be a possible be description of the church in North America today?
If the church is supposed to be a place of community, what is subtle coming into your church to spread more of an individualistic thinking?
Does the “Bible on the floor” description describe the way you and I treat the Word of God?
Do you know there is a invisible unspoken Christian standard?
I am not talking about the standard in the Bible, but the standard that we Christians have made here in North America. If you do not belong to the standard you are either, to much of a “sinner” or you are too spiritual. There is a certain standard that I think all Christians hold to in one way or another. Even myself, I find I start to despise people that might not be able to handle certain things or when they call me out on it. My first reaction is, who do they think they are? There are certain levels of profanity or sexuality or worldliness that you have to stay on to be able to be accepted in Christian circles. We, as Christians, will watch things that are on these levels, but as soon as a movie might not hit those levels, we tear it apart and label it cheesy! We justify so many things we watch that it almost makes, American Pie or Saw, seem like good family movies! Instead of justifying it, why don’t we just admit it? Oh because it might be sinful, and we might disappoint people.
Should sin really be a surprise to people, especially Christians? It is a surprise to many because we have this invisible unspoken Christian standard that we expect everyone that call’s themselves a Christian should hold to. What has happen to confessing our sins to one another? Each and everyone of us are capable to carry out what happened in Connecticut, if not worse. We think the Holocaust was bad, which it was, but to be honest, we are much more capable of doing worse, much worse. We have become naive in our “Christian” thinking. If we were to have a camera follow us around everyday, 24/7, we would really see how complacent, naive, and sinful we have really become. It makes you understand what famous people go through. We don’t have to worry about something we do be splattered across the next’s morning head lines. We so easily become righteous, when someone else’s sin is exposed.
People in the Christian world expect you to be the same, as when you left. You go away to college or a couple years, faithfully learning more about God and growing in your relationship with Christ, but yet people still expect you to be the same person as when you left. And when they find out you are not the same person, they become dissatisfied or distant.
What are these Christian standards? Take a look around your life and examine what people describe as good, fun, interesting, or what they just can’t miss! Then, you will find that standard. Not God’s standard, but sadly, the “Christian” standard.
After spending a year of my life working for a Bible school recruiting teens to attend Bible school, I have come across some interesting but difficult reason why a lot of teens don’t go to Bible School.
This difficult reason is there parents. For some reason our Christian parents are becoming the biggest obstacle for teens to attend Bible school. It is not money, it is the parental unit responsible for the teen. I am not saying they are the reason all the time, but most of the time the teens I talked to were either scared of what there parents will do or say, or their parents were the reason they had decided not to go to Bible school all together. For Christian teens Bible school is not even an option among the top schools of the province or state, because their Christian parents, for the majority, think it is a waste of time and do not mention it as a option to begin with.
I can never understand Christian parents that are against Bible school. They are saying,
“I do not want them to study more about the Bible and the God that sent His only Son to die on the cross for them. I want them to study something that won’t matter in eternity anyway, because I want them to have the American dream, and with them going to Bible school, that will never happen.”
There are some parents that would die for there teens to attend at least one year of Bible school. There also is the proud parent excuse,
“I taught them everything they need about the Bible and God.”
Yes, you might of the been the very best Christian parents, but no you didn’t and you can’t. Growing up I had some of the godliest solid parents around, and yet I could of not learned what I learned at Bible school, under my parents, on my own, or under the Church. Sorry, but come back and live in reality, the reality of life. You do not spend hours on end studying Theology, like my Theology prof, or studying the Bible to prepare for Bible Survey, like my Bible survey teacher.
“But my teen can go do what they want after they get a degree in something that will provide for them.”
Parents if you are standing in the way of your teen attending Bible school, you have some serious self examination, because I personally would not want to be between the God I serve, and someone trying to learn more about Him. The chance that your teen is even thinking about going to a year of Bible school after 4 to 6 years of school is slim to none.
Bible school prepares you for the onslaught of the World. Our World is not getting better in anyway. We are getting worse every single day. When they walk into there dorm, and there roommate is a devout Muslim or Buddhist or even a Catholic, what then? Will the be able to defend there faith with the knowledge they gain from going to Sunday School, Church, and Youth Group? Will they be able to explain how Christianity is different and why it is the truth? To be honest, your teen was finished before they even got on campus.
Its not that going to college will make them walk away, but it’s the fact that we have poorly prepared our teens for life beyond the Youth Group. As parents, you send your teen off to battle without giving him anything to battle with! It’s like playing in the NFL without any equipment. That’s suicide! But yet we send our teens onto spiritual “suicide” every year.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
So parents, are you the obstacle that stands between your teen going to Bible school? Are you even talking or thinking about it? Are you concerned what the World will or has thrown at them and there thinking?
So teens, are you listening to a parent that is for Bible school? Do you have a openness of learning more about God? Do you think this is something that would only help you in you future year of College? Maybe a true conversion needs to take place?
Are we preparing our teens to be apart of the Church, and be able to fight against what the World will throw at them? Or is Christianity an add on, where you pick and choose what you want?
I look at the ads for this coming Thanksgiving, and I am not sure if I see a time where family gets together in the dining room, or if we should just plan to meet at the front of the Best Buy, Wal-mart, Target, or K-Mart store? Being from Canada, but living in America and being married to an American, this is nothing new for me, except maybe a date change. For Canadians our Black Friday is on Boxing day (which is the day after Christmas to all my non-Canadian friends). In the World today it does not matter what holiday or what day of the week it is, we should never assume that we will get that holiday off or that certain day off. Our World is a 24/7 365 days a year kind of world. I remember when I was younger, doing anything on Sunday was held up there with murder! Well, maybe not that extreme, but you get my point. Being a Christian or not, should this really surprise us, that our World that we live in would move this far, that even Christmas day is not guaranteed as a day off? The simple answer is no. So often when it comes to different events in the calendar we assume that things are going to be exactly the same as the year before, when really God promises us that the world will become worse and worse. People of the World could care less about holidays, and what days of the week are considered “holy”. All they care about is money, and what better way to make money then to be open on a day that everyone else might be closed!
So when it comes to you having to work on a holiday or that other people have to work, don’t freak out and start a petition or quit your job! This is the World we live in. And money is what people want, especially in these days.
As I think back about what has happened through out Church history, as soon as accountability is breached with the head pastor or ministry leader, destruction comes and the name of Christ is smeared across the news headlines. The one that is fresh as of right now is that of the Harvest ministry and James MacDonald. Because of a breach in accountability, MacDonald was able to gain more power and money through diminishing accountability. No one could tell MacDonald what was wrong or right. Gambling, gaining more power, causing millions of dollars of debt, 60 million to be exact, getting paid $500,000 a year, a 40% pay raise, and recently buying a $1.9 million mansion. What was the starting point of this? I think that it was because accountability was not there. If it was there, MacDonald pushed it away with a movement of raising senior pastors. The elder board, that was very prominent in the beginning, is slowly fading away, and they power of the elder board is not there anymore. Most of the power transferred to MacDonald. People tried to talk him about this, but they were met with the anger and bitterness of MacDonald. The Harvest ministry became a one man show, James MacDonald. I am concerned about this very much, because my wife and I attend a Harvest church when we are in Michigan. For now, we are living in Chicago. We tried the campus church, but I could not understand the need of it, and why is James MacDonald preaching at all of them. This view is the same for any campus churches. Why do we need them? Why does the senior pastor need to preach to all of them? There are many faithful men of Jesus Christ, that are more then capable of leading one of these campus churches.
I would really encourage you to read the very website that made me alert to all of this (www.theelephantsdebt.com). Anyone that goes to a Harvest church should read this, and understand what is really going on. Everything is not as it seems. I would then encourage you to watch James MacDonald’s sermon from November 17-18. He confessed most of what you will read on the website, but not all of it. He does not say anything about the $60 million debt. This link will bring you right to that sermon http://tinyurl.com/cl6ocbn. But I encourage you to read all that you can on the first website provided (www.theelephantsdebt.com).
I would also you to consider reading a book, that I personally have not read, but I have personally saw this happen through out my Church life, Pastoring with Elders by Kevin Mahon. Kevin Mahon has been my family’s pastor for as long as I can remember. He just released his book this past year. This is the description on the back of the book:
Kevin is a preaching elder in an Associated Gospel Church in Canada (AGC). Their elders have had a growing influence on other congregations and have frequently been asked to share their effective shepherding-elder model.
So, how do you grow elders? Many pastors are looking for another program or quick fix to accomplish this end. However, the answer is rooted in the theology of ministry and the need to focus on the biblical mandate given to pastors rather than the tyranny of expectations inherent in pastor-led churches.This book is designed to help senior pastors walk through a process of deconstructing their understanding of pastoring and redirect them to a focused ministry within a plurality of shepherd-elders.
About the Author:Kevin Mahon has been the preaching elder at Peoples Church, Sarnia-Lambton, since 1999. At the age of thirteen, he made a bargain with God and promised to become a priest. He and his wife were born again during their university days and joined the priesthood of all believers. God was faithful in shepherding that youthful promise made by Kevin, who now makes his living from the Gospel as a preaching pastor.Kevin’s heart is for the local church, for preaching God’s Word, and for growing men as disciples of the Lord. He has been married to Charlene for twenty-six years and has five children and a daughter-in-law.
I hope you are more informed, and understand the importance of accountability. Even in our own personal lives we need accountability, and especially when you are in command or leading a ministry or a church. I would encourage to look at your own life and church. Do you have accountability? Does your pastor have accountability or is he a one man show? Does your pastor blow up and flaunt his personal freedom in Christ? Check the Bible for yourself about the qualifications for even being a pastor. Does he even meet these requirements?
Being a pastor, is a life lived in public. You do not have a private life. As a pastor, you are held to a higher accountability, like it or not.
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseermust be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3