In my last post I shared the importance of staying connected to God while homeschooling. He is our source of life, fruit, peace, hope, and strength. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. If you missed part one of this series, click here. Today, I will be focusing on staying connected to the church, or the body of believers. As homeschoolers, we spend a good majority of our days isolated in our homes. While we get quality time with our family, we can’t neglect staying connected to the extended body of believers. It’s not just a good idea, it’s an exhortation!
Staying Connected to the Church Body, an Exhortation
The author of Hebrews exhorts, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
Staying connected to fellow believers in your local church can be vital to your relationship with the Lord and to the teaching of your children. None of us is at our best when we are separated from the body. Being connected can help override your feelings of being isolated and lonely as you commit to educating your kids at home. It can bring encouragement and refreshment that we all need, including prayer support. And, you have a role to play in the body too, encouraging other believers as they endeavor to follow Jesus in their lives.
It Takes Time and Effort
While none of us has “extra” time in our days, make an effort to carve out time as a family to be involved in your local church. You won’t be disappointed! And I don’t mean just showing up on Sundays to a worship service. While that is important, don’t stop there. I have personally seen the difference in our lives when we are truly connected to the body of Christ in our local church rather than when we are just church attenders.
As I have shared a little before, when we first decided to home school our kids, we were well connected to our church body – we were a part of a life group that had been meeting for many years, actively involved in ministry, and I was in a mid-week Bible study. Our church truly felt like our extended family. We shared life’s joys and hardships, meals, kids’ clothing, prayer requests, and just life. Then we moved 400 miles away to an area in which we knew no one in the local area. And it was just a few weeks before school started.
We easily found a church we enjoyed. But, we quickly realized that getting truly connected takes time, stepping out of your comfort zone, and a good deal of effort. Getting connected was not easy. During our first several months in our new area, we were left feeling alone. It made us realize the importance of being truly connected to a church body. And then 9 months later, we moved 100 miles further away, again!
Three Ways to Get and Stay Connected
Because of our various moves, I was forced to take a look at how to get connected to a local body and the importance of staying connected. That which I may have taken for granted before, became a life-source that I realized I needed to pursue.
Small Group Community
While joining a small group at your church may seem like just one more thing to add to your already full calendar (believe me, I have felt this way before!), it can really be so valuable. Look at the early church in Acts 2. Believers met together, broke bread, prayed, and devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship. They truly shared life with each other. Having your family connected with other families at your church:
- takes away feelings of isolation
- provides a sense of community within your local church
- enables your kids to feel more connected
- models for your kids that you value getting into the Word with other believers
- offers a safe community that can support and love you through life’s ups and downs, and
- gives a space to pray for and encourage other believers, fulfilling your role as a member of the body of Christ
Look for a small group that has child care or allows kids to be included. It can be hard with little ones, I know! Be flexible and find one that works for you, even if it means your kids have to stay up past their regular bedtime. It’s worth the crankiness the next day! You never know, you may form friendships that last a lifetime.
Over my 20 plus years of following Jesus, probably the number one way that I have gone deeper with other believers is serving alongside them. There is just something special about doing ministry with other believers that can make you feel connected with them. Again, this isn’t something to just check off the list or to make your already full schedule, that much fuller. But, if you can find some way in which your family can serve at your church, you will feel that much more connected. Some examples include:
- monthly homeless feedings
- a summer mission trip
- a local outreach
- serving during weekend services
In the last year and a half that we have been in our new area, my family has served in various ways at our church. It makes us not only more connected as a family but also feel like we are part of something bigger than we are. As a homeschool family, being connected through serving has helped us overcome feelings of loneliness as well as grow spiritually.
Mid-Week Bible Study
This may not be possible for many homeschool families, especially those with older kids. However, take advantage of mid-week Bible studies if you can while your kids are young. Some churches offer mid-week children’s ministry through kindergarten, and others may have a homeschool room in which your kids can go to read or do school work. Our church even had a science co-op that met during the women’s Bible study so that homeschool moms could rotate teaching and attending Bible study. Meeting with other women in your church to study God’s Word together can bring life to your week. If you can afford the time, make it happen!
Take Steps Today
If you are not feeling connected to your church body, or are feeling isolated because you are homeschooling, take steps today to get connected. Don’t feel like you have to do it all. Pick one thing that will make your family more connected. It may mean you have to step out of your comfort zone or rearrange your schedule. Make the adjustments. You will be blessed as you follow the exhortation to meet together with other believers to encourage and stir others up to love and good deeds. The benefits far outweigh the costs.
*KATIE LANDERS IS A SCOPE MEMBER, HOMESCHOOLING MOTHER OF 2 PRECIOUS KIDS AGES 7 AND 5, MARRIED TO HER WONDERFUL HUSBAND FOR ALMOST TEN YEARS. KATIE RECENTLY STARTED HER OWN WEBSITE TO ENCOURAGE OTHERS ON THEIR JOURNEY OF HOMESCHOOLING SO THAT TOGETHER WE CAN RAISE UP A GODLY GENERATION WHO LOVE AND SERVE THE LORD. IN HER FREE TIME SHE LOVES TO BE OUTDOORS AND ACTIVE WITH HER FAMILY. MORE OF HER WRITING CAN BE FOUND AT WWW.BASKET-OF-BLESSINGS.COM