A few weeks ago I started discussing ways that we as parents can pass on a love for the Lord to our children. The first way I mentioned was that we ourselves must have a love for the Lord if we expect our kids to love Him. The phrase, “Do as I say, not as I do” is, unfortunately, many parent’s mindset when it comes to things of the Lord. However, if we have a passion for Christ, our children are sure to see this in our lives and have more of a desire to pursue Him.
Today I’m going to highlight one avenue that each parent should use when teaching their children about the Lord. This is the biblical concept of attending church. Hebrews 10:25 states, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.” We are commanded in Scripture to make church attendance a practice in our lives. (Click here for a more lengthy explanation on the importance of attending church). Below I’ve listed some practical reminders for going to church.
Attend church together. This means going to services and sitting together as a family. Some might think I’m being a bit old fashioned, but a family that sits together in church shows a unity of purpose. What better way to show a love for the Lord than to be in a place where the Word of God is preached and family worship can take place!
Church should not be an option in the home. Your children should not have to ask you each Sunday morning whether or not your family is going to church. It should be part of a normal family routine. The children should also see you excited to be going to church, not roaming around the house yelling at the kids to get ready and complaining to yourself because you can’t find the perfect pair of pants to wear.
Be at church as often as possible. When I was growing up, our family was at church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, prayer meeting, Monday visitation, Christmas program, clean-up day, choir practice, mission’s conference, you name it – we were there! The only reason we ever missed church was if we were feverish or throwing up. Period. It never even occurred to me that I could ask not to go. Matt and I aim to make this true in our home as well. We do our best (although we aren’t perfect!) to not skip church just because we are tired, had a long day, or have the sniffles. Sometimes it’s hard to make it to a service, especially in the middle of the week, but when we consistently do, we are always refreshed.
Be in the service and in Sunday school. Unfortunately, I feel the need to say that just being in the church building doesn’t mean that you are being obedient to the Lord or a good example to your kids. I understand that times arise when you may need to have an extra long visit with someone who needs encouragement or there may be a computer crises that needs attention. However, it pains me to see people consistently hanging out in the hallways during a service or Sunday school time rather than sitting under the teaching of the Word of God. If we aren’t participating in the worship/learning time, how can we expect to hear what God has for us?
Discuss what you learn. What better way to let your kids see the importance of what you are learning than to discuss and apply it after the service? Whether you are in the car or talking over lunch, ask your children what they learned in their class. Have them come up with ways they can apply the story or Bible verse. See if they have questions regarding the main message. Ask them what their favorite song was. Talk about the words and what they mean. Share with them what convicted you and how you wish to change. Hold each other accountable throughout the week. This may take a few minutes or an entire drive home. The discussion will not only deepen all of your understanding, it will reinforce the concepts which were presented.
Make church permanent. We live in a busy world. Sports, jobs, school, entertainment, etc. are all vying for our time. When your son’s baseball game falls on a Wednesday night, what do you choose to be a part of? The sport or church? Your answer says a lot about your priorities and will scream what you hold important to your kids. Do mommy and daddy choose to skip church and go to little Sally’s soccer practice? Or do they hold to their family commitment that God and His body take priority?
Serve within the local body. Whether you work in the nursery, children’s church, as a deacon, greeter, vbs, sing, fold bulletins, clean, etc., let your children be a part as much as possible. First, you should be obeying Christ’s commands to serve in the church (otherwise, you’re living in disobedience). Second, your children should see the joy you gain from being a servant of Christ. The joy of serving will be a quality not only to benefit the kingdom of God at church but also at home.
Many people might be afraid that requiring a child to attend church is like shoving it down their throat. Just remember that God will hold us responsible for our parenting. We need to faithfully uphold God’s command to meet with other believers regardless of how our children feel about it. Talk as a family about the why’s of attending church,, and pray together for the right heart. A good resource for understanding church attendance is Joshua Harris’ book Stop Dating the Church: Fall in Love with the Family of God. Read it together as a family or on your own. It will renew your love for the local body.