Best Place to Live for a Child's Spiritual Development

December 08, 2022

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Searching for the best place to live for your child's spiritual development? With so many options of places where we could choose to raise the children that God has placed in our care, what should we be thinking about when it comes the location of where we're living? In this episode, Elizabeth Urbanowicz provides key points to consider as you wrestle with the location you are in and raising children to become spiritually mature disciples.


Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Elizabeth Urbanowicz:

Hello friends and welcome to the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can be equipped to get the kids in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm so glad that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question says, how big of an influence do you think location has on a child's spiritual development? For example, living intentionally in a certain area like California versus Georgia? And I think this is a great question because especially post-Covid, so many people have been moving to different areas around the country, leaving certain states, going to certain other states just because maybe of the politics there, because of the climate there. And especially for those of you who are listening in the US, we just have this incredible opportunity that it's this huge country with 50 different states, so many different locations that we could possibly live all without changing our citizenship, all without changing language or currency or many times even jobs.

So there's so many options of places where we could choose to raise these children that God has placed in our care. So when we think about the location of where we're living, my advice would be that location has much less to do with the influence on our children as intentionality in whatever location we live. We could live in an area where there's tons of Christians, where most of our neighbors share our worldview. But if we're not intentional with the children that God has placed in our care, there's a really good chance that our children are not going to grow up having a biblical worldview. Where we could live in an area of the country that's very secular, that's very hostile toward the gospel. And if we are intentionally discipling the children that God has placed in our care, there's going to be a much greater chance that they're going to grow up and have a biblical worldview and faithfully follow Jesus.

So if you're in this place where you're not sure, if you're in a location where you and your spouse want to stay and raise your children. Or if you're in a location where you've been for many years and you have no intention of moving and you're just like, "Should I be thinking intentionally about where we're living?" Some questions that I would encourage you to ask yourself is first, why do you live where you live? Maybe it's that you have always lived there and this is home, and that's a great reason to live where you currently live. It's great to have deep roots because in this time and in our culture, it's just commonplace for people to get up and move and transfer to a new community every few years. Where a lot of times we don't value having deep roots, but that can be a really great thing to have deep roots in the community where we are. Because that way we can know the believers in our community really well, actually live as spiritual family and we can intentionally invest in relationships with non-believers in our community.

Another option might be maybe you live where you do because your family is nearby. That's another great reason to live where you do. To have those close familial ties, to have your kids be close to their grandparents or to their aunts or their uncles or their cousins. That's a great reason to live in the location that you do. Maybe you moved there because of work. Maybe you or your spouse got a job in this city and you've chosen to move your family there because you wanted to take the job. Maybe there's a certain school that your child is going to and you specifically chose that school for your child, and so you decided to move closer to that school. Maybe you're living somewhere because of the weather. Now, for those of you who are living in the northern half of the United States, I'm assuming that weather was not your first choice in choosing where you're living.

Unless you just really love those sub-zero temperatures, but some people really don't like the cold, and so they'll choose to move to the southern half of the United States. Or some people really like dry, arid climates, so they'll choose to move to the southwestern part of the United States. Maybe you live where you do because of your church, maybe you're committed to the local body of Christ and you live in the specific town or maybe even in the specific area of town that you do because of the church body that you are part of. And I would say that's actually the best reason for choosing a location. Now, we usually don't think of the local church as a reason for choosing where we're going to live. Now, if you are a church planter or your spouse is a church planter, then you've probably very intentionally chosen where you're living based on the church that you've planted.

But many times in the US church is kind of an afterthought that we just think, "There's a church on every corner in the United States. I'll move to this location and I'm sure we'll find a good church somewhere." Where many of you watching know that that's not always the case, that it can be really hard to find a church that one, faithfully preaches the gospel, that also adheres to sound doctrine and theology. And then one that's truly living as the body of Christ, where the church isn't viewed as a building or as a weekly service, but is actually viewed as the body of Christ. Where believers are getting together corporately on Sunday to sit under the faithful teaching of God's word to participate in the Lord's supper. But not only that, are then getting together throughout the week to continue encouraging one another and exhorting one another in the truth where people's homes are opened up to one another.

Where our kids know one another and love playing together, where we know one another well enough to know when our brother or sister is sinning, and to be able to call them out on that. To know what our brothers and sisters needs are and to be able to meet those needs. So now, if you are not part of a church like this, one, I would encourage you if you're part of a local church and there's some of these elements that are missing, intentionally seek to get those elements into your church. Particularly if your church is not living as the body, just start being the body in your local body. Start having people over for dinner. Start opening up your home. Start seeking to meet the needs of the brothers and sisters in your church body. If your church isn't faithfully preaching the gospel or holding to sound doctrine, that's something a conversation that you should have with the elders.

Maybe they don't realize it, or if they do realize it and are unwilling to change to actually have the gospel be faithfully preached or to hold to sound doctrine, then that's a case where you'll need to find a new church. And so I would really encourage you whatever location you're in, that you make sure that one of the primary reasons you are in that location is because of the local church. It's one of those situations where if you live half hour, 45 minutes away from your local church, you may want to consider moving closer so that you can be more involved in the week so that your children can actually be immersed in the body of Christ regularly throughout the week. So that's the first thing we need to think through, why is it that we live in this location? What is it that is keeping us here? And again, having deep roots is a really good thing. Now, you may be in a family position where you have to move every several years.

Maybe you or your spouse is in the armed forces and the military moves you every two to four years, and you're in a situation where you're having to move a lot. Well, again, I would really encourage you be intentional about seeking out a local church as soon as you move. If you're not living on base, make sure that the house that you and your spouse choose is going to be close to this local church that you're going to choose to invest in for the few years that you're there. Or maybe you have a job that moves you around a lot. And again, just be intentional with the houses that you choose, that they're near the local body of Christ that you're going to fellowship with so that you can build deep roots there. And those of you have the blessing of living close to your biological family, make sure that you're taking advantage of that. That you're building these close relationships between your kids and their grandparents, between aunts and uncles and cousins, but also make sure that those familial ties are not completely overshadowing the local church.

Because when we think about a biblical theology of family, how the idea of family is presented and then developed throughout the Old Testament and then into the New Testament. We always see that family is important, that it's a gift from God, that the family unit is this basic building block of society. And then on top of that, in the New Testament, we see that the family ties that run by the blood of the lamb actually should be stronger than any familial blood DNA ties that the family of God actually supersedes biological family. And we see that clearly in the gospels when Jesus' mother and brothers come to get him. And Jesus said, "Who are my mother and my brothers, those who do the will of God?" Now, Jesus didn't stop caring for his biological family when he was on the cross. He cared for his mom by saying, "Woman, behold your son, son, behold your mother."

But we see that those who are part of the family of God, that is our true and eternal family. So make sure that wherever you are, that you are rooting yourself and your children in the local body of Christ. Then, when you think about where you are, the location in which you live, make sure that you are aware of both the benefits and the drawbacks of your particular situation. Because again, intentionality is key. It doesn't matter if you live in a crazy hostile, secular culture or a very conservative Christian culture. If you're not intentional about that situation, you're not going to be intentionally discipling your children. So just as an example, I grew up in the southern part of New York, just outside of New York City. And the area in which I grew up, it was pretty secular. I went to a high school of 800 students and I really didn't know anyone else who had actually turned from their sin and trusted in Jesus as their savior until my brother came to the school several years after me.

And so we lived in a very secular culture, and my parents were aware of that. But in that secular culture, they knew that there were great opportunities for us to share the gospel. And so my parents were very intentional when they were discipling us, that every morning before we went off to school. It wasn't like my parents just sent us off to school and thought, "Well, we hope they'll come out okay." Every morning before school, my mom would read scripture with us, she would pray with us. She would pray for us that we would go and shine the light of Christ in that school, that we would be bold in sharing the gospel, that we would make a difference. That those who were around us would wonder what was different about us, and that we would have boldness to actually share the gospel in our speech.

And so we knew all throughout our growing up years that it was no accident that we were in the city that we were in. Now, there were some drawbacks to the city. In the city that we lived, it wasn't a super safe environment. It wasn't a place where my mom would say, "Okay, just go out and play and see you in a few hours." We had to stay in our yard when we played until we were probably in middle school or high school. There were certain areas of the downtown in our city that we would just not go. It wasn't a safe, it wasn't like you Leave It to Beaver Central North America, the heart of the Midwest kind of town. But my parents were very intentional in saying, "Hey, this is why we're here. We're here because this is where God has called us. We're here because we're going to be telling other people about Jesus."

And my parents really rooted us very deeply in the local church. It wasn't just something that we went to on Sundays, that we had people from church over our house a lot. We were constantly reaching out and serving. And so my parents were very intentional in this very hostile, secular culture in which we found ourselves. Well, then after college, I actually moved out to Wheaton, Illinois. And if you're not familiar with Wheaton, Illinois, Wheaton is kind of like the mecca of Christianity in the US. It's where Wheaton College is, a flagship university. And among Christian colleges, it's where there's so many different Christian publishing houses, like Christianity Today is there, Tyndale House, Crossway, Inter University Press is just down the road. There's so many different Christian organizations that are housed there. And when I went out there to Wheaton, it felt just like this breath of fresh air.

I didn't know really any Christians outside of my local body of Christ in New York. Where when I would go to Starbucks in Wheaton, Illinois, I wouldn't know anybody in Starbucks and there would be two women doing their BSF Bible study. And then a pastor would be interviewing someone for a potential position at his church, or two students from the local Christian high school would be off doing their homework. And I was just like, "Wow, where have I landed?" It was completely opposite, and it was a great place to raise kids. Actually, one of my siblings lives there now and is raising their children in that area. And it's a great location because there's a very strong Christian culture there. So there's many Christians. One of my nephews right now is attending a local Christian school in the area. And so there's so many great things about that culture, but there's also real dangers too, in that it's a very affluent area.

Now, the Bible isn't against wealth. The Bible is against hoarding all of our wealth and not being generous towards God. But there's a danger in being in a community where most people are very high in the upper middle class or even upper class, just giving our children a very unrealistic picture of what life is like. So there's a danger there. There's also so many good opportunities that that can actually be dangerous, that there's so many opportunities. A lot of times, good opportunities squeeze out the best opportunity, which is getting to know Jesus through seeking Him in his word and through prayer. So that environment at Wheaton is completely different than the environment I grew up in New York. Both have positives, both have drawbacks. But the important thing is that whoever is raising their children as a Christian in either of those locations is very intentional with understanding the strengths of that community and understanding the weaknesses.

And the final thing that I, or the final encouragement that I would have is that wherever you are living, you should be there for a purpose. That's where God has called you and your children should know that you are there for a purpose. You're there to invest in the local body of Christ, to get to know Jesus more, to love Jesus more, and to reach out to those in your community who are lost. So wherever you are, no matter the location, you should be there intentionally discipling your children, and your children should know that the location where you live is no accident. You're not just there for the weather, you're not just there for a job. You're not just there for your family. You're there because that is where God has placed you, and you're going to faithfully live as believers who are seeking and serving Jesus in that location.

Well, that's a wrap for today. I'm so happy that you joined me. And as always, as we leave this time together, my prayer is that God would continue to richly bless you as you faithfully disciple the children He's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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