If you’re reading my blog, you don’t want to do that. You wouldn’t be on this page if you didn’t have some interest in church things. Even people who do not go to church are usually happy when their kids do. Church people…church people say they want more than anything for their kids to know and love God, and to be a part of a good church. But the trouble is, too many church people are turning their kids away. How?
- By attending when it is convenient. Kids can be fooled for a while. But they pick up quickly on life patterns. They know what’s really important to you. So when you say that going to church is important, but you stay home when you were out late on Saturday night, out-of-town guests are in, or when there’s a big meal planned, a big game is on, or supposedly just because you need a break… they pick up on how important corporate worship is to you really. They know its not a big deal to you. So why would it be a big deal to them?
- By knowing more than the church leaders. Honestly, they think you do, at least right now. That’s supposed to be a good thing. But let’s face it, while you can sound to them like you do, you really don’t. But by critiquing the sermon, criticizing the music, minimizing the elders and gossiping about the youth pastor, you’re sending the message loud and clear that the church is led by idiots. So maybe they’re ok with going now when they are 9 or 10, but at 19 or 20? “Are you kidding? Waste time with a bunch of idiots? My dad didn’t raise no fool!”
- By separating your church persona from your home persona. “The Bible…that’s to be read in church. Let my kids see me reading it at home? Naa. I watch TV at home.” “Prayer? Ok, maybe at the dinner table, at least when family is in town. But let’s not take it too far.” If you want your kids to grow up hating church, you’re not going to want to pray with them before bed, or after a disappointment at school or struggle with a friend. Then they might think that church stuff is actually real.
- By focusing on the externals. Make sure they wear just the right clothes (after all, how they are dressed is a reflection on you). Make sure they behave just right in front of the other church people. And teach them how to hide what’s really going on at home––none of those embarrassing prayer requests in Sunday School. That way, they grow up learning that all church people are fakes, and they’ll hate it all the more.
All right. Again, I know you don’t want to raise your kids to hate church. What it comes down to is this: kids pick up on our beliefs, attitudes, example, and passion. If they grow up seeing that you have an unwavering commitment to Jesus and His family, a honest respect for the people who lead the church and a genuine love for those in it, and you are the same person at home that you are at church, they will be attracted to it. If they grow up with loving and consistent parents who are passionate about the church, they will catch that passion. It’s all about being authentic Christians, fully embracing the mission of the church and engaged in accomplishing it. When kids see that, they want it for themselves.
“What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things.” –Philippians 4:9