I have the awesome opportunity to talk to lots of families, both connected to the church and not. Some are believers, but don’t go to church. Some have a church that they would tell you they go to, but maybe have gone once in the past year. Some aren’t opposed to church, but don’t choose to go. Some are believers who actively go to church but find themselves in seasons where they just don’t go very much. I love these conversations and I love these families.
I won’t pretend to be unbiased. I totally believe that church should be a prioritized, consistent part of a child’s life. I do not believe this just for my job security, but I truly do believe this is healthy for kids.
1. Spiritual development matters just as much as any other area. We tend to focus on the development we can see. Are our kids learning to walk on time or learning to read at the same rate as their peers? We care so much (too much?) about their development and success in sports or other interests. We hire tutors and worry about their future grades when they are still in preschool. We are the generation that flooded our littles with Baby Einstein because we really thought it might make them smarter. I could quote you dozens of statistics of why childhood is an essential time frame for spiritual development. This is a huge developmental window in kids’ lives, and as parents we owe it to them to focus on spiritual development just like we focus on academic, athletic, etc….
2. Our kids need voices we can trust that aren’t ours. Maybe your kids are different than mine. But often my words or advice or great wisdom go in one ear and out the other. BUT, if another significant adult in their lives says the EXACT SAME WORDS, they totally hear it. Our kids need significant relationships with adults and other kids who are pointing them toward the things we are. No one is structured better to do this in a consistent and healthy way than the church. Good children’s ministries and youth ministries work hard to have safe, quality, incredible people who can be role models and additional voices in your kids’ lives.
3. Life is hard, and no one needs to do life alone. Everyone needs community. Everyone needs people. Everyone needs a place where they belong and they fit. When life falls apart, and it will in some form our another, your kid…your family…needs people. I can not imagine my kids going through the things they have over the past couple of years without a faith family to love them and support them. Just the consistency of going to church each week with people they know and love provided so much stability when everything around them felt shaky.
4. Kids need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If we are honest, this generation of kids (and probably a couple of previous generations as well) has a lot of entitlement issues. Our kids need to know that there is a world that is bigger than their own. The church allows kids to be a part of a body of believers who serve a God bigger than them and work together to accomplish things bigger than them. A healthy church helps kids participate in projects and activities that help others in their community and in the world. Being a part of the church helps kids learn that life is not all about them.
5. There is a God who loves them so very much. This is bottom line truth. Your kids need to be in church because there is a God who so very much wants to be in relationship with them. There is a God who is faithful and good and has an amazing plan for their lives. He is there even when you can’t be. He loves them even more than you can, as hard as that is to fathom. He wants the very best for them, even more than you do. Your home is the very best place for them to learn about Him, but the church is a very close second and should be your partner in pointing kids to Him.
So, parents, here is one more thought…all of those reasons that your kids need to be in church are the reasons you do too. This is not a guilt trip. This is not trying to cram God down your throat. This is me loving you and your kiddos enough to challenge you to invest in them spiritually. It does matter. See you Sunday!
This article originally appeared here.