This is the house where I grew up in a little town called Anaconda, Montana, population 4000. (Our school mascot was a Copperhead – yes, it’s true, we were the Anaconda Copperheads. Can you guess what our gym was named? The “Snake Pit” of course!)
There is nothing extraordinary about this house except for the fact that it was two houses down from this building – Grace Baptist Church.
This is the church I grew up in. Nothing kept my family from being there every time the doors were open; not rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor venomous snakes roaming the streets.
Anyway, on to the point of this post:
At Grace Baptist Church, children were given Sunday School Pins every year if they attended a certain number of Sundays during that year.
Now you may be asking, what was the magical number of Sundays you had to attend? The answer is 50. Yes, I said that right – if you came 50 out of 52 Sundays, you would be the proud owner of that years Sunday School Pin. (Now there were ways to get around this. For example, if you were sick you could be excused if you brought a note from your Doctor. Or, if you were out of town, you could be given attendance credit if you brought back with you a bulletin from the church you attended while you were away. Other than that, your bum had to be in a seat on Sunday morning.)
Knowing this seemingly insane number of Sunday’s needed to get a pin, how many Sunday School Pins do you think my sister and I received from Grace Baptist Church while growing up?
No, not zero.
We received one every year we were eligible…18 in all.
Now, I wish I could say I can take credit for that, but I can’t. In fact there were many times I wasn’t that thrilled about going to church. Sometimes I was even dragged (usually on Sunday nights when I had to miss the end of Walt Disney’s Magical World of Color). But my parents, Larry and Sue, knew the value of regular church attendance and they made the decision that they would orbit our family’s life around the church. Because of this I was able to learn about compassion, integrity, courage, faithfulness, obedience, generosity and many other Biblical leadership qualities. Qualities that helped me avoid a lot of mistakes in life. For that, all I can say, is thank you mom and dad!
But what I learned at Grace Baptist Church is only part of the great gift my parents gave to me. The other part of the gift is something that both my sister Becky and I have strived to give our own children…a love for the local church. This is a great gift because it is through the local church that our children’s lives will be transformed and through it they will in turn be given the opportunity to transform the lives of others.
Now, don’t get me wrong, orbiting your life around the local church is not a magical formula for raising your children with success. But it’s close! And here’s the cool part. Orbiting your family’s life around the local church hardly costs anything – just one hour a week.
Oh, before I go. I was looking through some old pictures awhile back and I stumbled across this one below.
It’s a picture of my dad (on the left) when he was 18 years old. He is standing on the corner of the church he grew up in…Grace Baptist Church in Anaconda, Montana (you can see that very corner in the foreground of the picture above). And here’s the part I love..if you look really close you can see that he is proudly wearing something on his lapel. Guess what it is? 18 Sunday School Pins.
Thats the legacy that was passed down to me. What legacy regarding church are you giving your child? Remember, it’s never too late to start.