Posted on 23rd February 2015 at 12:06 by Grant Spratley in Pastors’ Blog
I don't want to go to church! Church is boring. I'm the only boy. I want to play football. I don't like my SClub teacher. They pray too long. I want to go to a party. All excuses we’ve all heard in some shape or form and probably used ourselves.
I believe that too often these days godly parents succumb to the nagging and relent by giving in to the pressure from their children. I've heard it said that in the past we had strict parents and obedient children, well that seems to be turned on its head and we now have strict children and obedient parents. It appears that all over the world well-meaning parents are letting their children 'bunk' church and youth meetings.
Each family is different and has different priorities and different ways of dealing with the world around them and the pressures it brings. But I can't think of any Christian parent that doesn't want their children to share in their faith. So keeping in mind that each family is different, here are my penny's worth of observations on the subject:
'My parents forced me to go to church so I don't want to put my children through the same experience.'
I sympathise with this argument at one level. But you're still at church - even though you were forced. None of the above excuses would stop us from sending our kids to school. I think that there are more children and adults that don't go to church because they weren't encouraged than that don't go because they were forced. We will empty our churches more by not encouraging church attendance than by encouraging it.
'Church' kids are important to youth and children's ministry functioning in a healthy way.
This is a tough one, especially if you have younger children. Your children are ministers to the rest of the group: each other and the unchurched. Many Christian groups around the world are struggling to survive and need the support of Christian families in order to have a successful gospel ministry. Children come to groups for many different reasons but one of the main reasons is because of who is there. Most children come to these groups because they were invited. Our children need to be doing the inviting. Families (parents and children/teens) can work together at sharing the gospel, just by coming to the groups regularly and by inviting friends. Mums and Dads can help out at these groups (or other groups running at the same time) to make it a family ministry.
'Get out of Church Free' cards.
I hate Monopoly. Each person has their own set of rules, never mind each family. Stick to the rules in the box is what I say! But the 'get out of jail free' card is perhaps a helpful tool when trying to encourage our kids to attend church. This is how it works: you explain why church is important, you then give them a few cards (depending on their age, etc...) Each card can be 'played' by the child whenever they like and can miss church or youth that day. I would suggest that they need to play the card at least the day before. You may need some rules, like you can't play a card when you're involved in something or on special days.
This will hopefully show that church is important but that you aren't legalistic about it.
Model the value of church
If our children see that we value church and that we don't like missing it, the chances are - so will they. Attend regularly and get involved. Pray for the church. Don't talk negatively about church, even if the kids' talk was that bad and the band massacred your favourite hymn. Get involved and only miss church when you can’t avoid it. Go to church when you’re on holiday.
Set Sundays apart
Start a family tradition: Dad cooks to give Mum a rest, no homework, Mario Kart Wii Championships, board games, invite other families over for tea or lunch (let the children choose who to invite), etc...