There is so much wrong with the recent posts making the rounds about kids and choosing church over sports and other things (or not letting it be a choice at all). Issues include a twisted focus on family in faith, unhealthy parenting, and even some mixed signals regarding child development theory. The biggest issue though is the focus on church or no church as a CHOICE, or a singular way.
I have to say that the fear written into the post in question seems to be that of someone who spent most of their life in the modern paradigm and the post-modern transition. The way the world works is not the same as those time periods and the fear of the author is one that echoes the anxiety of our culture that has yet to come to terms with how the world now works.
So, before we get into how the world works now, let's look at how the term "choice" came to be at the center of this issue. For the sake of simplicity let's look at life as if it was literature. In modernity we acted as if we were all in one story, one great novel, where all things were working towards one great end and all we had to do was find our place in the novel and play our part. The problem is that at some point it became clear that there wasn't just one single ending, and we weren't all really working on that same story. This is where Post-Modernity stepped in. Suddenly we were all in choose your own adventure books. The choices we made created a story and once we made a choice we had to play out that story before starting over, or finding out what our ending was. We were each working on our own story and those who chose like we chose were on the same path to the same ending.
Of course, you can see where I'm going, can't you? The thing is that the idea of this bianary choice (this or that) or even other limited in the moment choosing (this, or this, or this, or that), doesn't work when put to the test. Life isn't about the choices we make. Yes, they play a part, but the road we take isn't what gets us places, it's the traveling. So as we travel we create the world we live in, that is the definition of the new paradigm, it is a place of convergence, a relational paradigm where whatever we create relationally defines our world.
That means that it's not about choosing something over something else, and that's hard because that means we have even less control over the outcome than we thought we did. Yet, God time and again reminds us we're not in control, nor should we try to be. We live, we interact, we create, we relate, just like a God who does the same things. The fact is that the world is not a choose your own adventure book for each of us, nor is it a novel where we must find our place, it is an endless sketch book, full of blank pages. Each page we start working on may get finished or it may not, we may come back to it or we may rip it out, but each page we work on influences what we work on later, but there are no rules as to what we are to work on, we each get to create that, with the help of the Spirit of God.
There is great freedom in this, and even greater faith. We've treated faith like something akin to anxiety for so long, we've created a world where we compare stats, ask for choices to be made right here and now, and remove all context from everything we do. Life isn't about this or that, it's about whatever we create and the God within that creation. We need to stop worrying about the church's place in that creation. Stop worrying that God can't create in ways we don't understand. We need to embrace the beauty of a paradigm where a Creative God's image in each of us can come through without fear, without anxiety, without bounderies, but instead filled with the confidence to risk, to fail, to have to rely on grace, manna, and mercy and not on our own "Choice."