“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. (Joshua 24:15)
The other day, a friend of mine asked me if I agreed with parents forcing their children to go to church. It’s a very important question that I wanted to address with this post.
First, let me just say… Growing up, going to church wasn’t a choice in my household. It was mandatory. My mom didn’t play when it came to church. But I later appreciated it.
Would I had gone if it were a choice? Most likely not. It just wasn’t fun to me. It was quite boring to say the least.
In my college years, miles away from home I found myself looking for a church home while away at school. Even though I had told my parents time and time again that I couldn’t wait to leave home so I could make my own decisions. Somehow going to church went from being a chore to something I craved and needed and looked forward to.
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
In my opinion, Parents generally don’t care whether a child wants to go to school or not. Why? Because going to school is a household requirement; likewise, going to church should be a requirement in Christian households.
If your children don’t want to go to church, there is a much more important question to ask:
WHY don’t your children want to go to church?
But in order to get to the root of this question, you must first address the following questions.
1. Does your child believe in God?
Perhaps your child is saying “I want to stay home and play video games” but what he/she really means is “I don’t really believe all this God stuff,” and doesn’t want to tell you (maybe he/she hasn’t even identified that consciously yet).
What they need most is to have conversations with you about God. They need to know it’s OK to doubt, and that you are willing to talk to them about those doubts.
It might be intimidating to be the one who has to present the case for God’s existence, but if you aren’t going to be that person in your child’s life, who will?
2. Does your child believe in God, but doesn’t believe church is important?
Perhaps an immediate answer comes to mind. “They just want to do other things,” or “They think it’s boring.”
These answers, however, are really symptomatic of a child’s underlying beliefs about God and his/her relationship to God. Those beliefs must be identified.
What does your child believe about God? You might be surprised what you find out;
if your child is saying, “Yes, I believe in God, I just don’t want to go to church . . . “ don’t take it at face value.
3. How does church make your child feel?
There may be a very real reason why your children want to avoid your specific church. Maybe they don’t fit in with the other kids; maybe there is a disconnect between them and the pastor or youth leader; maybe there are too few other kids their age and they feel isolated; the reasons are infinite.
The bottom line is this: The underlying reason for kids not wanting to go to church shouldn’t change your “law” that they have to go, but that reason should be addressed in order to best determine how to guide them spiritually.
What do you think? Should you force kids to go to church? Is there an age at which they should have a “say” in the matter?