Everyday Christian: When you visit a new church and your kid speaks up

“The Bible,” answered my four-year-old daughter, Ingrid.

“That’s right,” said the minister who was giving the Kids Talk down the front of the church my family had first stepped into only half an hour earlier.

We were on holidays in the Adelaide Hills and picked the Lutheran church on the main street for a Sunday morning visit.

Our two girls (the eldest is six) go to church with us each week, so they’re pretty comfortable among unfamiliar pews, hymn books, and the odd tapestry of flowers transforming into a cross.

But like the minister seemed to be, I was also pleasantly surprised at this interloper child who had the gumption to answer the quiz questions he fired off to his junior audience.

Not just pleasantly surprised. Chuffed. Actually, proud.

This was every Christian parents’ dream. Your family breezes into a new congregation and, within minutes, your youngest demonstrates how Christian her family must be by knowing the correct answer to “But how can we see Jesus today, if he’s not here with us?”

That’s right, everybody in the 9:30am service. She can’t tie laces and she struggles to accept the idea that leaving the house need not always require an in-depth deliberation – but she smashes a theologically rich question time. Boom.

I humbly – cough – hoped the people at this church noted Ingrid’s speed of reply, young years and assurance. And her answer was pretty deep given the deliberately provocative question, don’t you think?

I stayed as cool as possible, resisted the urge to high-five myself, and prayed.

As my chest puffed out and I contemplated whether to get my wife Amy to join me in taking a bow, I suddenly realised pride is one of those inner nasties which God and Jesus warns against. Darn.

The inner struggle was real. Part of me wanted to flow my way some waves of praise, astonishment and respect for how well our daughters appear to be going with their Christian lives.

Instead, I stayed as cool as possible, resisted the urge to high-five myself, and prayed. And as the Kids Talk continued in the uplifting vein of encouraging the children – and me – to seek Jesus where we can know him, I meekly asked God to help me hold on to what was best in this awesome parenting moment.

That ‘best’ bit should have been obvious to me from the start. Isn’t it wonderful that Ingrid knows enough about God’s Word and Son to be able to respond to the minister’s question? It’s my and Amy’s greatest hope that our girls have a true, saving faith that continues to grow. And if Ingrid’s answer points to such a personal faith, I should be stoked for her. Not for myself.

Correct answers at church are not a genuine indicator of anyone’s faith, of course. The same goes for our family going to church even though we were on holidays. None of that sort of stuff matters. What matters is that each of us love and serve Jesus, because of who he is and what he’s done. After all, all praise and glory belongs to the glorious, praiseworthy one.

Having a correct outlook as a parent, matters. It’s great that we can help our children develop their own personal relationship with Jesus, but all the credit should be directed to where it’s due. As the Apostle Paul echoes the words of Jeremiah in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

I’ll remember that, thanks to Ingrid’s memorable answer.