Why You Should Keep Taking Your Kids To Church Even When It Feels Pointless
by Emily Carrington
Every Sunday families face the monumental challenge of getting out the door and to the service on time. In our house the baby always needs something right as it is time to leave…I hoped she would take a morning nap during the service and we would actually focus on worship. Not ten minutes into the service... the fussing began again...Before I knew it, the service was over and I had yet to “worship.” I couldn’t help but wonder: Why are we even here? Why do we even try?
I remember my parents dutifully bringing us to church and carting us up to the balcony. My grandma would quietly pass out fruit Mentos while we wiggled in our pew. Over the years this pew was where we would doodle on children’s bulletins, sing hymns, and memorize the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostle’s Creed. Slowly, but surely, these words were written on our hearts and the wiggles stopped. My parents’ persistence and regular church attendance wasn’t futile…
You Are Teaching Your Child that Church Is Important
... you have known the beautiful reality that going to church is part of the spiritual life... but now with children participation in the corporate body feels like a distant reality and heaven isn’t any closer..., we are not part of corporate worship in the ways we used to be. [However], children see what we do and they love what we love. The regular struggle to attend regular worship reinforces to our children that church is a priority.
You Are Creating Habits that Will Smooth the Future
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6.
If we wait until we have perfectly well-behaved children to bring them to church, it is likely Jesus will have already returned...Going to church wasn’t debatable, and nobody had to tell us that. This was simply the established order as long as I can remember. It was this habit that pulled me through as I doubted my faith in my adolescence…On the subject of behavior and habit-making: what a great way to teach, practice, and live grace… Regardless of how the children are acting during worship, if worship involves entering the presence of God, then what better time than with screaming children to experience such a grace.
You Are Introducing Your Kids to a Lifelong Community
So you got to church and you survived the service, but you can’t repeat any points from the sermon and your child was throwing a fit so epic no one could focus on the sacraments. Wasted time, right? No. Your time after the service, while perhaps not as essential as participating in the word and sacrament, is an important part of being part of the body. Your children are meeting peers whom, Lord willing, will be alongside them as they come into their faith.
They are also meeting adults who are praying for them, teaching them, guiding them, and setting an example of a godly life... They prayed for me when I left for college and kept me connected to the body of Christ as I struggled to find a church home in early adulthood.
These peers, prayer warriors, teachers, and mentors are essential to your child’s spiritual well-being. We live in a time when fewer and fewer other associations will uphold the gospel. With the secularization of the communities in which we live, our children will lean even more on their church community to help bear the burdens that are inevitable to the human experience.
You Are Building Your Own Community
If you stay home, when do you have a chance to share your needs as well as offer support to others? … By staying connected to the Christian body, I can ...pray for others.
You Are Including Your Children in Christ’s Body
You are not just offering your children a like-minded community, you are faithfully including them in the body of Christ. In Acts 16:33 Paul baptizes the whole household of the jailer. In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” The New Testament makes it clear that there is a place for our wiggly, fussy, and distracting children. Our efforts as parents, however messy, are worth our time, if only to follow the example of both Christ and Paul.
You Are Being Faithful
Perhaps the most important reason to strive for regular church attendance is because it is part of the duty of a Christian parent… It is acknowledging our responsibility as parents to bring them up in the church.
This is an intimidating responsibility, if only for the sheer weight of its consequences…The responsibility to raise our children according to God’s word is an essential responsibility as a Christian parent. And why not do it with the help and guidance of the church?
Take Heart and Keep It Up
So dear parent, rest easy. While Sunday morning might feel more like a wrestling match, a battle of wills, or a circus, your time, efforts, and distracted worship are worth it. Even the messiest and most frustrating days are not wasted. Thank God for his grace—and keep it up.
Emily Carrington is a housewife and nonprofit consultant in Hillsdale, Michigan. She is also a co-founder of the start-up nonprofit organization the Early Pregnancy Loss Association. Follow her on Twitter: @ecarrington725.