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Teach your children well

Youth doing long jump

By attending track-and-field meets and motocross events with her grandchildren, Cyndy Rossman, East Winds District Co-Lay Leader, has learned that church can happen anywhere.

East Winds District Co-Lay Leader

My granddaughter Gracie is in ninth grade. She is on her high school track team. I know very little about track-and-field meets, but I’m learning. The first thing I learned is that if the track meet is not at the home school, there will be driving, maybe a 30-minute drive or perhaps a 2-plus-hour drive. Second, activities start sooner than you realize. (I enjoy watching her practice the long jump.) Third, an invitational track meet involves many schools, so it’s longer than a meet between two schools.

I drove one hour for the last track meet (her other grandparents drove two hours to get there). I arrived a little after 3 pm on a beautiful day in May; you couldn’t have asked for better weather. I loved watching her and her teammates participate. Some of her teammates I have known since they were toddlers, not only from school but also from church, as they participated in worship, my Sunday school class, the toddler playgroup, or Vacation Bible School (VBS). I also noticed a lot of good sportsmanship between our team and the opposing teams, as they helped and congratulated one another.

The track meet ended by 9 pm. When I arrived home, I received a text from Gracie thanking me for coming to her track meet. She shared this via text: “Me and a couple friends did a prayer before running, and all the teams joined us and made a huge prayer circle” and “I thought of you.” I replied, “Awesome,” with heart and happy face emojis.

I remember the first time Gracie went to Bay Shore Camp. While driving home from camp, she asked me, “Grandma, does God have a belly button?” I said, “I never even thought about that. But, interestingly, you did.” I then googled “Does God have a belly button?” There has been much theological debate on the subject! During our drive, she also shared songs from camp; her favorite song was “Oceans” by Hillsong. Since then, when we are in the car together, she plugs her phone in and shares her Christian music playlist.

My grandson rides motocross. About ten years ago, Bay Shore Camp offered a Motocross Camp. My grandson was asked, “Do you want to go to Teddy Bear Camp with Grandma or Motocross Camp with your motocross buddies. He chose Motocross. Afterward, I remember him singing, “I will make you fishers of men” to me and casting his pretend fishing rod as he was singing.

My grandchildren don’t attend church regularly. For many young families, sporting events sometimes happen on Sundays. So, imagine my surprise when they show up at church all on their own, and I didn’t even know they were coming! I have been pleased to see the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Christian Motorcycles Association at the different motocross tracks on the weekend. I also have been delighted to see that the track owners are open to having a worship service on a Sunday morning or a prayer offered before the race day begins.

Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles: This is why we take our kids to worship, Sunday school, and VBS. This is why it is important to pray with them, and why they need to see you praying. When we volunteer at church or in our community, we don’t know what impact we might have in the life of that child or youth. We sometimes expect to see immediate results. It could be years later before we realize the impact that was made. Deuteronomy 11:19 states, “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (NIV). Psalm 119:66 says, “Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I trust your commands.”

Adult volunteers: You are so important to the life of the church. You don’t have to have a child or grandchild to volunteer and ensure your church is a safe place. The Michigan Conference of The United Methodist Church has wonderful resources on its website to ensure your church is equipped to train all your volunteers working with children and youth. Click here to learn more.

Also, summer is just beginning, so think about helping to send a child or youth to summer camp. Here is the link to the affiliated United Methodist camps here in Michigan.

My way of thinking was having my children and grandchildren in church on Sunday in Sunday school. That is how I thought they would learn about God and Jesus Christ. I have learned that church can happen anywhere—at camp, on a motocross track, at a city park, praying at the school flagpole, or praying at a sporting event.

When a Christian shows up, God shows up.

Last Updated on October 31, 2023

The Michigan Conference