This post is aimed at a specific group of people. It’s aimed at parents who have children at home, and who believe in God, but who don’t come to church very often.
First, let me say that I understand. You lead busy lives. There are a lot of demands on your time. A lot of times you’re working five days a week or more. If you’re not working on Saturday, you’re running around trying to get things done. Or, you’re taking kids to some sports tournament or other weekend event. Or, there’s a big concert you want to go to. When Sunday comes, you want to relax. You want to go to the river, or play golf, or get some work done around the house, or just sleep in and rest.
I understand that. After all, I spent a lot of years as a member of a congregation before I became a pastor. I’m not upset with you for this. I don’t think God’s upset with you for it, either.
But here’s the thing. Your kids are learning from you all the time. Sometimes, they learn when you’re actually trying to teach them. More often, they learn from watching you. They see what’s important to you. They see what you value. They see what you think is worth your time, and they see what you don’t think is worth your time, too. And the things that are important to you become important to them. The things you value become the things they value. The things that you think are worth your time become things they think are worth their time. The things you don’t think are worth their time become things they don’t think are worth their time, too.
So if they see you taking the family to the river for the weekend, they understand that going to the river is important. If they see you taking them to a sports tournament on the weekend, they understand that sports are valuable. When they see you go to a concert in Sioux Falls, whether you take them or not, they understand that going to concerts is something that’s worth the time it takes.
And when they see you taking them to church only once every six weeks or so, maybe less, they understand that going to church is not something that’s very important. It’s not something that has much value. It’s not something that’s really worth the time it takes. It’s certainly not as important as those other things. At best, it’s something that we might do once in a while, when it’s convenient, when we can’t find anything better to do.
If that’s what your kids see, that’s what they’ll come to believe--that church is not very important. And it’s a very short step from there to believing that faith in God is not very important, either. It’s certainly not important enough to let it affect our lives in any significant way.
Maybe you’re okay with having your kids believe that. But I really don’t think most of you are. I think you just never really thought about it in this way. I think you never really thought about what message your children might be getting.
Again, I’m not upset with you for this. I don’t think God is upset with you for it, either. But I do want you to think about it. In fact, I’d like you to pray about it. I’d like you to really think about what message your kids are getting about the importance of Christian faith, and whether that’s the message you want them to get.
If it is, then fine. But if it’s not, then I’d ask you to do something about that, something that lets your kids know that church is important. If you’re out of town, or at the river, find a church near where you are and worship there. If it would help for us to offer a mid-week worship service, let us know that--if there’s interest, we’d be happy to put one together. And when you are in town on Sunday, take the time to come to church, even if it’s not always convenient. Your kids will see that church is important to you, and it will become important to them, too.
I know your kids are important to you. I know your Christian faith is important to you, too. If kids don’t have faith as an important part of their lives when they’re young, they’re a lot less likely to have faith as an important part of their lives when they’re older. So please, think about this. Pray about it. After all, your kids are not going to stay young forever.