I know how it is.
You have to wake up a little earlier. You iron dress shirts, find matching hair bows, tug on tights and make sure breakfast doesn’t get on any of it. Then you race to the car and pull into your church’s parking lot 2 minutes before service starts. You run to the children’s department–check in all the kids at different doors. After prying your youngest off your leg you schlep into service while they are singing the last song and then attempt to stay awake during announcements and a sermon about being a witness while on the job. But it’s not even over yet. You pick up your kids from their class (where they’ve been loaded up with red kool-aid and goldfish crackers) buckle them into a hot carseat while they scream for their macaroni art baby Moses craft. You stop at a restaurant and remember how Sunday lunches used to be a relaxing time with family and friends. Instead of the crazy whine-fest it is. You drive home and 5 minutes before you get home, your kids fall asleep effectively ruining any naptime.
Or is that just me?
I know why people don’t take their kids to church. I get why parents only show up to church every 3 or 4 weeks with kids in tow. It’s hectic, it messes up naps and meals and sometimes, well, it just doesn’t seem worth it. So, is it?
Why should we drag our kids to church faithfully each week? How do we even do it?
Here are some of my thoughts as a former children’s pastor, a life-long church goer and a mom:
As with anything consistency is key. The more we offer green beans and squash on their plate, the more apt they are to try it. The more often we follow through with discipline, the more often our kids will respond. The more we take our kids to church the more they will love it and keep it as a discipline in their lives.
I hear parents say, “But she cries when I put her in the nursery.” or “But he doesn’t know any of the other kids!” These problems are both solved with consistency.
My best memories are from church events and activities. I’ve been on missions trips, to camps, homeless shelters, laser tag and roller skating rinks. I’ve cooked food, scrubbed floors and painted walls. I’ve sung in plays, served breakfast and made props. I’ve also giggled under covers, been on double dates and bridesmaids in weddings. All of these things were in the context of, because of, or with people from my home church. A church that made an effort to provide memories and experiences that were safe, encouraging and most importantly, centered on Jesus.
I am best friends with the same girls I met at church when I was 4 years old, in 3rd grade and later in 6th grade. Why have we been friends so long? We’re not very similar. We don’t live too near each other. We have kids at different ages. We went to different schools. What makes us stick together for so long?
Ministry. Our parents were involved at church. They were the ones that built stages for our Christmas programs. They were elders. They were camp counselors and Sunday School teachers. With that example, we had nothing else to do except follow in their footsteps. Which is why we spent afterschool, weekends and summers doing all those things I mentioned above.
When your children see you teaching a class (yes, even if that means you have to get there early, or stay an extra service), bringing food for a special event or hosting a small group at your house—what do you think they are going to want to do? Get involved. Do the same. Copy you.
4. Love Your Church
If your kids see you hating your church–complaining about the music, criticizing the teaching and barely tolerating the people–they will do the same. Find a church you can love. And they will do the same.
Church isn’t the end-all, be-all. Just bringing your kid to church every week doesn’t ensure their eternal salvation anymore than setting foot in a gym makes you fit. But if you make the real Body of Christ central to your life you will see your children join it and work as part of it.
If you haven’t been to church lately, I encourage you to go today! If you don’t have a church home and don’t know where to go, please email me! and I’ll do everything I can to help you find a Bible-teaching church in your area.
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So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (MSG)
originally published July 18, 2010