|image courtesy of MarilynJane via flickr|
Has your child ever said, “I don’t want to go to church”? We have been fortunate to be a part of a great church, with a fun and meaningful Children’s Ministry. Even in the process of our family moving to Allendale, Hannah wondered about what it looks like to drive 3 hours each way to still be at Grace Church worship services. Our kids are almost always excited to be in their programing. Almost always.
How to Respond
But each of our children, on more than one occasion, has expressed resistance to going to their programming, and one of them has expressed it plenty of times. Below are some talking points that we’ve used to engage our children’s hearts on this matter. It’s important to note that this is how we framed the discussion with our children at the preschool and young elementary age. For preteens and teenagers, most of the principles are the same, but the conversation would probably need to go differently.
- “Well, you are going with us. That’s not an option. But I want to hear why you don’t want to go. I want to dialogue with you about why we go, and why you need to go as well.”
- “You need to go because Mommy and Daddy are going, and you have to come with us, since you cannot stay home alone. Church is important to us, to be able to worship God with others, and to be able to serve others.”
- “Since Mommy and Daddy are going to serve others, this is your opportunity to serve others, to put them ahead of what you want. The Bible says in Philippians 2:3 that we should consider others better than ourselves. This is your way to serve, by going even when you do not want to.”
- “Going to church [or, as our family sometimes calls it, “church meeting” – since we, not buildings, are the church] is a way that you can learn more about God’s love and His plan for you. By not going, we would miss out on an opportunity for God to speak to and teach us.”
Principles for You to Remember
Besides these talking points, here are some basic principles for you to know and remember about the value of the local church.
- Church is God’s primary agent of redemption for this fallen world. People may make a case that family is the primary agent, but God’s word (especially the New Testament) really seems to indicate that the church can have a much broader impact, as each person uses his or her gifts.
- Your child is not the leader. Do not give him or her the power to decide. Leading them does not mean making them happy. Church is good for you and for your marriage (if applicable). (See more in the post about Oneness.)
- Make sure you are going for the right reasons. Consider why you are a part of a church. Maybe your child is reflecting an attitude or behavior that he perceives in you. Are you going because of “tradition” or because “it’s a good thing,” just going through the motions? Your child needs to see you engaging in multiple areas of spiritual growth, not just church. See this post on 7 Ways to Grow in Faith.
Has any of your children ever made this comment, about not wanting to go to church? Any other pointers or principles you can add?