I think I should start this post by being very clear… I do not have any children yet and I get kind of overwhelmed at the thought of it. I know that children are a great blessing from God, but 22-year-old Dylan definitely doesn’t feel anywhere close to prepared to raise a kid yet. I do however spend a great deal of time with teenagers who were once kids and have been affected by the things that have happened in their childhood.
Many of the teenagers that I know currently attend church, love Jesus, and want to make Him famous. I also know some teenagers who are the polar opposite. While it would be easy to look to their childhood and make the assumption that the ones who were raised in church were generally doing better than those who were not, I think this is an incorrect assessment.
My goal with this blog is to speak to those of you who have children, or will someday have children. From my perspective as a youth pastor I have observed some trends in parenting and childhood church influence that could shape the faith walk of your children well into their adult years.
Don’t Bring Your Children to Church
My first observation has to do with the motive behind bringing a kid to church. I have heard people say things such as “I want to raise them in church because it is a good thing to do.” While I understand the sentiment of this comment, I think that it’s completely misguided. Ultimately, what people mean by this is that they want to raise their kids in church because they can make friends there, or have things to do there. With this mindset church turns into a country club for kids that features AWANA programs, puppet shows, and those dangerous little scooters that inevitably lead to many smashed fingers.
A better reason to bring your kids to church is because you love Jesus and you want them to fall in love with Him (and His bride). Bringing your kids to church can be a great thing to do but not if you are doing it for the wrong reasons. The church is intended to be a place of growth as we walk through every year of our human journey. Bringing our children into the church because it is “something good to do” seems like a mature comment but it often leads to kids growing up and feeling like church was just a way to pass the time.
Be the Church at Home
The second thing that can be destructive for children is when we take them to church but then don’t show them how the Christian life plays out at home. I have heard from so many students that were raised in church, had terrible home lives, and ultimately believed that church was the only place where you had to be a Christian.
As a parent, it is your (and some day my) job to show our children what love, grace, and forgiveness look like inside and outside of our home. Proverbs 22:6 states “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” When I read this verse it seems to me that the parent or guardian of a child is responsible for leading them towards Jesus. Simply going to church will not effectively show our children what a Christian life looks like. We must take it a step further and commit to living out this life ourselves.
Church can be great, but only when it is used as a tool to share the Gospel with our children. If the eyes of their hearts are not constantly being pointed toward Jesus we will be failing them as parents, grandparents, teachers, and pastors.
Don’t just take your kids to church. Instead show them what it looks like to love the Lord and to be an active member of Jesus’ Church.