A Rebel with a Cause
Do you remember that kid in church? You know the one – he knew all the big biblical answers in youth group, worked recreation every summer for VBS, and sang solo in the church youth choir. All the little old ladies who sat in the back of the church sang his praises while all the younger ladies with daughters wanted him to be their future son-in-law. Remember him? Now, do you remember how he drank, cussed, and generally did anything he could get away with that was anti-God? You probably don’t remember that, because he was really good at hiding his rebellion while keeping up appearances.
That kid was me. A church pedigree a mile long, with a spiritual pedigree a half-inch deep. I grew up in the church. As one Christian comedian said; “When I was young I had a drug problem; my momma drug me to church and drug me back home afterwards.” If the church had a kid event I was there. As I got older, if the youth group was doing something I was there. I played hand bells – I helped build the singing Christmas tree – I took up the offering. But I also knew where the best hiding places were in church to go kiss my girlfriend – I knew how to act dumb when my parent’s asked, “Are you sure there are going to be adults chaperoning this party?” – I knew what gas station would sell liquor to underage kids on Sunday nights after youth group. I was a rebel with a cause.
I know I’m not the only one who has ever been this way. The best I can remember, I wasn’t even the best one at doing it in my church! In the history of mankind, kids of all ages have rebelled against authority, religion, and all sorts of seemingly oppressive entities. It always strikes us as odd when a “Christian kid” does it though. Somehow we take scriptures like, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) and assume the scripture means if we do all the right things as Christian parents then our kids will always be perfect. In his book, Why Christian Kids Rebel – trading heartache for hope, Dr.Tim Kimmel helps a parent understand the difference between a child who is acting like the Prodigal Son, and a child who is simply stumbling along as he grows. Dr. Kimmel helps parents navigate how to analyze the choices their kids are making, and assists in the parents’ response to those choices.
Dr. Kimmel examines 5 “types” of Christianity that can play a part in a child’s rebellion. Compulsory Christianity – where a life with Christ is viewed as little more than a hobby; Cliché Christianity – where a life with Christ is filled with empty phrases, words, and beliefs that have no real power; Comfortable Christianity –where a life with Christ is filled with convenience; Cocoon Christianity – where a life with Christ is made up of everyone that looks like us, talks like us, and acts like us because we are fearful of everyone else; and finally,Compromised Christianity – where a life with Christ is characterized by parents who say one thing but compromise those beliefs with their actions.
These 5 “types” of Christianity can work together or singularly to spark rebellion in a child. We know children are naturally rebellious, as part of their growing up – but these types of Christian lives have the capability to take that natural rebellion and explode it to life-altering levels. Dr. Kimmel has given parents a tremendous resource here with Why Christian Kids Rebel. As a church planter, pastor, and former youth pastor, I highly recommend it for parents who have kids of any age…the lessons you may learn about your children (and yourself) when they are young may save you and them heartache when they are older.
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