Should You Force Your Children to Go to Church?

Yesterday’s column about “Why Bother?” really touched a note with a lot of people. One dear sister (who is more honest than most) wrote, “I am exhausted and so tired of being tired.” Still, she pushes herself to get up and get going – especially for the sake of her teenage daughter. That brings up another discussion. “Should you force your children to go to church?”
Sadly, I know one father who turned his children away from church through his anger. He actually broke down the door of his teenager’s room and dragged her to church! Of course, the problem began many years before. His hypocrisy turned his children away long before that.
What are some of the reasons kids don’t want to go to church? All of the reasons we give, our children give too, but here are some more:

  1. “Church is boring.” The great sin of our age is to be boring, and yes, compared to a rock concert, church may appear boring, but the answer isn’t adding pyrotechnics or a band. I think the problem is with us. If we don’t understand the dynamic, transcendent quality of an encounter with God (worship), how can we expect our children to?
  2. “I don’t get anything out of it.” Our answer has been to divide the assembly into smaller and smaller groups that can “meet their needs on their level.” Terry Ellis wrote, “We need children and youth ministries with plenty of activities, but one hour a week teens need to stand next to senior adults and singles with married families. All God’s children need to sing “Worship the King” and hear a message from an ancient and timeless book. The young need our wisdom, and the elders need the energy and imagination of youth, just as much as the eye needs the ear and the head needs the feet. Worship is the best way to give expression to our unity in Christ.” 

Should we force our children to worship the Lord? What kind of a parent would I be if I never made my children brush their teeth or take a bath? Isn’t spiritual hygiene as important as physical hygiene? Think of what our children will miss if we don’t bring them to worship?

  1. Community. Michael Kelly observes, “The church family can create a wonderful second family, sometimes closer than our blood family!  Over the years our church family has blessed us so much with prayer, meals, love, and more.  This can be a wonderful experience for our children.”
  2. Morality. Our children are being forced to make moral decisions that only adults use to have to make. What framework will they use to make those decisions if they don’t know the Lord? Give them a place to stand and they can stand against the world!
  3. Transcendence. We all need to find our place in the universe. To understand the world doesn’t revolve around us is a critical activity for any human being, but especially children.
  4. The Lord. God commanded our presence in worship and it wasn’t to feed someone’s cosmic ego. We need God – and so do our children. 

Did you attend church when you were a child? I worry, with all of the publicity about the horrible things that have been done to children in churches recently, that fewer and fewer parents will bring their children to the Lord. Are you concerned?
Some people believe, “Children aren’t capable of making religious decisions. They can go to church when they’re older if they want.” How would you answer those people?

Be a Blessing!

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