If you’re a parent, I hope you’ll read this long letter from a reader …

Here’s the letter:

Hi Mr. McLaren,
I was recently listening to an old podcast you had done with Luke Norsworthy and in it the question was asked, “What would it look like if we were teaching children/discipling them in a more holistic, deeper understanding of the gospel?” I’m so happy to let you know what it looks like in our family.
We ’emerged’ from an extremely fundamental, evangelical background. Your books have been like water to a dry sponge for us. My husband read “A Generous Orthodoxy” way back in 2005 or 2006, close to the time of our separation with the institutional church. We knew it was truth, but we were only at the very beginning of this freeing journey. Our children were very young at this time. We never imagined we wouldn’t raise them in church. But we did raise them in a home that follows and loves Jesus. We raised them to question everything – even the things they hear whenever we’re in church (b/c we felt guilty, like we had to go and were being bad christians for not being in church – so we constantly tried dead church after dead church). During our time out of the institution of church, we grew and learned more about Jesus and the history of the church than ever before. But we still didn’t have words to explain to others around us what it was we were learning; all we knew was that we were being set free. There was joy in life w/o the restrictive bonds of legalism.
Being that we were hypersensitive to whatever came from the lips of pastors, we chose to start listening to podcasts as a family each Sunday morning instead of going to church. The kids always listened with us. We would enjoying talk about what we learned afterwards. We’ve been doing this since our oldest was 7. He’s 17 now. Just this September, we decided to start reading your book, “We Make the Road by Walking” every Sunday morning. We call it our Learning Circle. The kids are genuinely excited and look forward to it each week, often calling us down to the family room to get started.
Our kids are 17, 15 and 12 now. We have the most amazing conversations about God,the Bible, authors we respect, politics, the Universe, science, LGBT, church, race, poverty, drugs – nothing is off limits. Each of the kids read one of the Scripture passages out loud (which they secretly love). I love this b/c we don’t know what we’re reading in the Bible when we read it by ourselves – we need help. You are helping us understand what this amazing, ancient book is teaching us. Sometimes questions and/or conversations start long before we even make it to the Questions section of our weekly reading. I can only wish I was introduced to God this way…I would have been a much more merciful, loving, forgiving, accepting person. Instead, I confess, my default is self-righteousness.
I love learning right along side my children. I love that they see we don’t know all the answers, that we’re on a life long quest to learn and grow, that we mess up and are redeemed, that God is constantly transforming us. I love hearing their answers to questions and seeing them work through hard concepts and ideas. But most importantly, I’m forever thankful that they learned that ‘salvation’ is not about being saved from hell. I think that is one of the most important concepts I’ve learned from reading your books. I hate to admit that I’m a 43 year old Christian who has been ‘saved’ most of her life and didn’t really know what that meant. I know what the Good News is now! I love how you refer to it as being ‘liberated’. This is how my children now view salvation. Thank you!
We actually had the chance to listen to you speak at Solomon’s Porch in Minneapolis when you were in town a few weeks back. We had hoped to meet you and thank you personally at that time, but the line had grown rather long. The kids enjoyed listening to you as much as we did.
I have read many of your other books and each one opens my eyes a little bit more. I’m currently reading, “The Last Word and the Word After That” – oh my! This book! I need to send a whole other email to tell you about that! 🙂
I hope you are encouraged with the beautiful impact your words are having on a small family of 5 in the frozen tundra of MN. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart.

Thanks so much for this encouraging note. On my current book tour, almost every night a parent expresses frustration about bringing their kids to conventional churches … They’re concerned for their kids’ spiritual growth, but equally concerned about some of the negative messages that come through in many (not all!) congregations. I’m so glad WMTR has been of help to you and your family. Let me know how it goes as the year progresses – high points, low points, etc! I really appreciate your reaching out to me.