As we have been walking this homeschool journey, we have found our point of view changing along the way. We have always been a faithful, church-going family. We had been attending the church my husband grew up in, as he was raised in a Christian home. It was also the church I was most familiar with, as my mother took my sister and I to church sporadically while we were growing up, and it was the church she took us to. It is a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church with people separated into age/peer groups for Sunday school and with a separate church service for children, one for teens, and the one for adults, so, in a sense, it is segregated. Because this is what we grew up with, my husband and I didn't see it as a problem until our oldest son was to become a part of the junior high department. The church had decided, that year, that 6th graders would be part of the junior high department and the junior high department was not always separated from the senior high department, which meant our 12 year old sixth grader would be in some discussions and activities with 17 and 18 year old seniors. This was a concern for us. We, as parents, felt this was too big of an age span and were concerned about what our 12 year old may hear from a 17 or 18 year old that we didn't think he was ready for or that we were ready to teach him about, as well as some things we still wanted to protect him from.
Our oldest, himself, came to us and said he doesn't want to go into the junior high department unless we come with him. So, my husband and I volunteered to become part of the junior high department, so that we could be present and could see whatever was going on. This remained the case for our oldest son's 6th, 7th and 8th grade years, and each year I could see more and more things arising that I disagreed with in the teen department, not to mention the disrespect we received from many of the teens.
When our son was faced with entering the 9th grade level of the teen department, he came to my husband and I on three different occasions and said, "Please don't make me go into the Senior High Department. I don't want to go to the Senior High Department. I don't have any friends here." And this was the church he had been growing up in. He had known most of these kids for twelve years. How could he not have any friends here? Well, it was because we were one of only two or three families homeschooling in the entire church. We were the minority and none of the other teens were homeschoolers, so our son had been excluded from the group because he didn't attend either public or private school with any of the other teens.
So, we began to pray for God to help us to be able to affect a change in the church or simply for His guidance in all of this.
Our homeschool community has a magazine that we receive monthly that tells us about all of the homeschool groups and happenings in our county. I received the June/July issue that year, and I always read this magazine from cover to cover. As I was reading this issue, I came upon a page inviting people to a new church, a family integrated church. There wasn't a lot of information on the page, but something about it piqued my interest. However, I didn't think my husband would consider visiting or changing churches, so I simply laid it aside.
Several times over the following days, that page kept coming to my mind, until I finally decided to show it to my husband and talk about it. I was surprised at his response. After discussing it, he suggested we visit the church in the homeschool magazine on the two weekends surrounding his upcoming week of 4th of July vacation. We talked to the kids, who were all for the idea.
We decided that we would attend the church those two Sundays and refrain from making a decision until after the second Sunday.
As this story is fairly lengthy, in order to share it properly and give you the important details, I will break this post into several parts. This is the end of Part 1. Come back Monday for Part 2.