In the 1990’s it was popular to describe best child raising practices with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Perhaps. But in raising children in the 1990’s and beyond, I have discovered “it takes a church.”
My youngest daughter, Dana, graduated on May 13th, from Concordia University in Irvine. Like her sister Laura, she continues to become an incredible young lady. Yes, proud father talking. But also feedback from other professors, parents, colleagues and friends. Grandparents would also agree emphatically, but like me they might be biased.
Dana has developed an incredible heart for mission, a faith that seeks God’s guidance, and a life that pursues God’s purpose with the attitude of a servant. Though she demonstrates these qualities in the “village”, it took a church to help bring them forth in her and develop their fruit.
As a student at Christ Lutheran School from 2nd grade onward, she learned the educational basics for building knowledge — reading, writing, and arithmetic. Even more she learned the basics for building life — growing her faith in Christ, discovering her spiritual gifts, an attitude of service and gratitude, and wise Biblical parameters for growing her life each day.
As a student at Valhalla High School, she learned how to pass the California State exam. Every parents day class I attended or PTA meeting I went to, this point was drilled home. All ideas were equal, and in attending her sister’s graduation the summer before Dana began there, the closing words of the valedictorian’s speech still ring in my ears, “If you are not cheating, you are not trying.” With no comment by Principal or faculty condemning words that I assume fall into what was considered by them freedom of speech. The “village” let us down that day. But not the church. The church had taught her one’s integrity has greater value than a passing grade. It takes a church.
I have served in 2 congregations that Dana has been a part of, and each has helped in encouraging to be the person God made her to be. They have nurtured her gifts, encouraged her growth, and demonstrated Christ’s love, especially Christ’s love in action. In this crucible of learning, growth occurred and Dana’s life has been transformed to be like Jesus.
One of the more popular phrases today is, “I love Jesus, but I can’t stand the church.” Those who say that must have never been to Christ Lutheran Church. For there Dana learned Jesus loved her, and made her to love others. Dana learned Jesus gives us life in heaven and life for bringing His love to the world around her. It takes a church.
It takes a church. As a high school student, she was plugged into ministry to teach middle school and junior high students. She went on house building trips in Mexico as well as bringing Christmas gifts and the Christmas gift of Jesus to the children of Mexico with her youth group. In discovering a taste of ministry she has found a greater purpose in life.
As part of the church, Concordia University in Irvine fueled Dana’s mission passion. Last summer, it was 2 months in India and Nepal, including Mother Teresa’s House of Charity. This summer teaching English in Asia. It takes a church. By the way Dana graduated Theta Beta Kappa, honors in religious studies. In her 4 years she was trying, just not cheating. A lesson she learned from the church, not the village.
As an admitted proud father of both his daughters, my thanks to the churches and church institutions God has used to influence my daughters. Even more my thanks to the people in those churches and institutions — principals, teachers, Directors of Christian Education, members, friends and colleagues, you have a done an awesome job. Thank you for letting me be a partner in ministry. Thank you for showing Dana and the world around here the difference a church can make when passionately transforming lives to be like Jesus. Thank you for re-enforcing the lesson her mom (another great reason Dana and her sister turned out so well) and I taught a home were lived out in the world.
I think it’s Bill Hybels who says that there is nothing more beautiful in this world when the church works right. The opposite is true as well, nothing as ugly as a church that does not work right. But this day as I celebrate my daughter’s graduation and future, let’s focus on the positive. When have you seen the church at her best as God intended? When have you realized, “it takes a church”?