Why You Should Make Your Kids Go To Church
This is one of the posts where I’d like to be super honest and transparent. Here it is: You should make your kids go to church. Admittedly, this sounds a bit harsh and forceful, but stay with me.
Involvement in church is directly correlated to faith formation in young people. In other words–and maybe this is obvious–a young person’s church attendance is oftentimes connected with their ability to develop into a mature believer. And if that’s the goal of faith (which I think we can all agree with), then going to church is a really important thing.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a dip in consistent church attendance amongst young people (actually let’s be real, amongst EVERYONE).
Consistent attendance twenty to thirty years ago was going to church practically every week. If you missed a Sunday, it was cause for alarm. Now, you are considered a consistent church goer if you show up one to two times a month.
There are, of course, many factors for this change, but one inescapable truth is that as we become busier, going to church every week becomes less of a priority.
Our lives are extremely chaotic and busy. We all know this is true. And it’s incredibly true for our students.
I can certainly empathize with this generation. They are over-worked, over-stressed, and over-homeworked. In fact, many times their weeks are so chock-full of things to do and places to be I wonder how they get it all done.
From hours of homework, to clubs and study groups, to sports teams whose fastidious approach to attending practices and games makes it appear like they are professional athletes, not students.
A little tangential rant: A student can’t miss a game or a practice? Seriously? And if they do, they suffer the consequences of lack of playtime and the condescension of their coaches and teammates?
I’ve heard some of the threats made by coaches to students when they miss a game or practice. It’s laughable the world we’ve created for young people to grow and flourish in. They aren’t free to be young; instead, we treat them like well oiled machines.
All of this makes complete sense to me why church attendance has dwindled. The only activity most students are ALLOWED to miss during their strenuous week is church. At times, it might be the only thing they can exercise any veto power over.
My heart goes out to our young people who carry the burden our school systems and culture has forced them to endure.
Now, I do believe there is a danger in creating a mantra that says, “You have to go to church because that’s where God is.” Surely this is not a Christian response. Jesus told us this world in “His Father’s world.” God is bursting forth from every crack and crevice in this universe.
Moreover, the church is not just about the gathering, but the scattering. We are called to be salt and light in a bland world (Matthew 5:13-16), and we are called to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). This, of course, presupposes that we get outside the walls of the church to do the work of ministry.
So, please, don’t hear that. Instead, my heart in this matter is to help young people develop the kind of church attendance habits that places God as the highest priority in their lives.
Although going to church probably won’t win you any scholarships or awards, it will remind us of what should matter most if we are believers.
I never want young people to feel bad about missing church. If that’s the case, we become another unreasonable voice clamoring for outrageous allegiance.
God is not in the business of guilt motivation. He’s in the business of heart transformation and perspective shifting. So instead of joining the chorus of adults demanding allegiance, it’s time for us to shift the way our young people (and all of us) think about church.
Church isn’t just another activity to attend, but a time to engage. It isn’t just one more thing to do on their schedule. It’s a chance to be reminded of why we exist. It’s the very real connection we all long for–community, worship, the nourishment of God’s word.
I want to de-stress church so that it’s not another item on an agenda, but a life-changing experience.
My prayer is that our young people would experience the power of the church, that they would make church a priority in the same way they elevate homework and sports and SAT study prep sessions. My prayer is that Jesus would take that center spot in their lives.
When it’s all said and done and these high school years pass, what will truly matter? Achievements, scholarships, and academic standings are all important. But so is the faith that has been built, a foundation ready for the rest of their lives.
Our role in all of this is to help steer them towards Jesus, trusting that God works in ways we cannot always see.
So, maybe we should think about making our kids go to church. Not because we want to give them more activities to fill their week, but because we want them to engage with God.
Who knows? They might just thank us later on.