Encouraging Legalism: Or why we may not take our kids to Bible club anymore

Tidbit, random style: I wish it would snow.

Wednesday night is the night we normally take our kids to a Bible club. It’s a great place of learning and fun. There are loving people who do good things there. I went to something similar growing up and had always appreciated my time their. So of course my kids should go to something that teaches them the fundamentals of the Christian faith. The kids were hesitant at first, but once they saw their friends at club and how much fun everyone was having, they were excited to go. And so we have gone for two years now.  They are encouraged to learn scripture and bring friends. The boys have learned about missionaries in far away lands helping people receive the gospel message. It’s been great.

Along the way we have been reinforcing what they have learned at Bible club along with what they learn from Sunday School. God loves them no matter what. He cares for all people. It’s our job to love people and reach out to them. To be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is the message we are teaching at home. Most of the time.
Over the last two years I have seen a trend in our boys. One of the perks of Bible club is to get prizes for saying verses, bringing friends, attending church. All very good things. Witness this conversation we had last night as the boys were getting ready:

Me: Ok, kids lets get our stuff together.

The younger one: But we don’t know any verses!

(maybe we get a little lax on this side of things. but with homework, family visits and both of us working sometimes we don’t get to the verses.)

The older one: Yeah, we won’t win tonight if we don’t have any verses ready!

Me: God does not care how many verses you memorize for Bible club. That doesn’t make Him love you less.

I was putting away dishes, but then my husband was laughing a little as the boys were frantically shaking their heads no, in protest to my assurances that they would be fine at Bible club. That God DOES CARE how many Bible verses the boys have memorized.

Now I am not saying kids shouldn’t memorize Bible verses. Or that God does not desire for us to ..”Hide his word in our hearts.” He does want us to do just that. We are to study  the Bible completely and listen to what God has to say for us. But the fact that my kids are learning that DOING THINGS can earn them God’s favor is scary to me. I grew up with this mindset. And in my later teen and college years I was a Pharisee. I knew exactly what I could and couldn’t do to be a Christian. And it cost me several relationships because I was to “good” to hang out with certain people. Because they weren’t the right people. This is one lesson I DO NOT want my kids to learn.

I want my kids to know that the salvation they receive is a gift of love. And that this love is what spurs us onto action for God. That the more time they spend with God the more they will desire to be in His Word and apply it to their lives. That not just one group of people can perform their way into heaven.

Maybe I am just reading to much into this. And we will probably keep sending them to Bible club. But we’ll also pick up the other side of the coin. That grace and mercy are gifts for all of us. That God loves us NO MATTER WHAT. And that He does not want us to know a bunch of verses just so we can get a patch and a piece of candy. His gift to us is so much bigger than that. This is what I want to pass on to my kids.



6 thoughts on “Encouraging Legalism: Or why we may not take our kids to Bible club anymore

  1. Annette Bannister says:

    That’s great, Katie. Good thoughts. I agree. I feel like we are doing this sort of Bible Club stuff with our homeschooling–learning about missionaries, memorizing Bible verses, and reading through the Bible. I agree that this sort of learning is FANTASTIC. It’s one of my favorite things about what we do. But we don’t give away prizes for them doing this stuff; it’s just part of school. Although I have always said we would disciple them whether we sent them to public school or homeschooled (and therefore, the opportunity to teach them about Jesus wasn’t really a factor in our decision to homeschool, since we’d do that anyway), I have since started wondering if I would REALLY follow through with teaching them these things at home if it weren’t part of a curriculum that I feel accountable for. We have a routine for school, and the Bible is part of it, so that works for us. But life gets in the way, as you said, and I wondered how on earth I would manage to read these books and make little Bible memory verse sheets for them if I was also helping them to manage homework, do sports, etc. My whole point in going on and on is that your post really encouraged me that we could find a way to continue this kind of learning if we sent them to public school (something I have been thinking about lately as Strat and I butt heads nearly EVERY DAY. Yeesh.). So, I think that Bible Clubs are still awesome and serve a helpful purpose. Maybe you can talk to the organizers about ways they can teach not to be legalistic. ?? I think it’s great that you’re so aware of the pitfalls of legalism, and I can’t help but think that your boys will also be aware of that as you teach them spontaneously throughout the week about ways they can be loving to the least of these. 🙂 Blessings on you and your family, Katie! A great post!

  2. I fully agree with you Annette that Bible clubs are helpful and wonderful resources for helping to disciple our kids. And in talking more with my husband he and I agree that we are going to continue sending them on Wednesday nights. With a healthy dose of grace teaching on our side. 🙂 I am glad the post encouraged you. I will be praying for you and your family as you are making this school decision. I know you won’t do it lightly. Thanks for reading and responding!

  3. good thoughts Katie. you and Tom are doing such a great job raising your kids. Loving God and loving others before them, 🙂

  4. Michael Light says:

    You are a Youth/Children’s Workers ideal parent Katie…you know and embrace your role as the person who is most responsible for discipling your children. I am with you 100% in the need for children to understand that God loves them and others in spite of any negative action and that actions such as memorizing verses, praising God and sharing Him with others does not make God love us more, but instead is how we show our love (and obedience ) to Him. Your blog is spot on! As another person who struggled with being legalistic in from Jr. High to early college I am glad to hear you are going to keep them going to Bible Club and also going to key in on making sure they understand how God’s Love ties into what they are learning!

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