How do your kids feel about the whole “church” thing? Do they dread it or drive you crazy you asking, “Is it time to go to church yet?” The fact is you can’t “make your kids like church.” Sure, you can make them go. We all know how well this strategy works in the long run. However, there may be a few things you can do to help them appreciate it for what it really is as much as you do. Here are 7 Ways to Make Your Kids Like Church…
1) Like it yourself. If you are constantly complain about something you don’t like, they will pick up on it. This will color how they feel about church. Worse, they will get the impression that church is all about getting… when it is really all about what we are giving to Christ and others. Start by liking, if not loving your church!
David chose this attitude, “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” (Psalm 122:1, NIV)
2) Live it outside. Kids are perceptive. When they observe consistent inconsistencies between the truth they are hearing and how they see you living, something is very wrong. It’s called hypocrisy. And, since it’s easier to just dismiss the whole church or Christian thing than deal with the hypocrisy they observe and the questions it raises, they will often take it out on the church, its leadership… or worse, it will stain how they perceive God. We aren’t talking about perfection. We are talking about an authentic relationship with Christ that seeks to bring Him glory in our thoughts, words and actions. When we blow it, we own it and move forward in grace and truth.
3) Talk about the bad stuff. There’s no sense in denying it. Church is messy, at least the real ones are. Someone has said, “The church is the perfect place for imperfect people.” Create an atmosphere in your home where everyone can talk about the stuff that hurts, that just isn’t right, the obvious sins and everything in between. Remind them often that who we follow is NOT the pastor, elder, youth leader, Sunday School teacher or small group leader. Together, we are all followers of Christ and sometimes we mess up or simply sin outright in the sight of God and everyone else. We need Godly confession, repentance and the amazing grace that makes it all possible to keep going and growing together.
4) Talk about the good stuff. For all that your church isn’t, there is so much to celebrate. Be intentional about pointing out the good things God is doing in and through real people all around you. Celebrate the wins and cultivate gratitude for your church leadership and the people you are serving with. Ask your kids about the things they are experiencing and even brag on the leaders in their kids or student ministries. Invite your own friends, co-workers and family members. Talk up what is coming up and help create the “buzz” that every organization needs to gain and grow in momentum.
5) Do church together. We have created an environment where we often all go our own way… to “Big church,” the nursery, the “Kid Zone,” or youth room, etc. Make sure you not only worship together often (even sit together! I know… radical!), but serve together. Take advantage of the missional opportunities your church offers to serve Christ in your community together. Maybe there aren’t many or any to choose from? Then get connected with those who are. Very few homeless shelters will turn away volunteers. Adopt a child or support a ministry with monthly giving above and beyond your regular tithe and offerings. Check out https://www.tinyhands.org/
6) Stick it out. We are notorious in North America for church shopping and hopping. This includes everyone from leadership from pastors to board members. If you just can’t get past something or someone (and have taken the time to make it right relationally), then find a people and a place where you can serve and worship together with genuine joy. Life’s too short and how your kids perceive the church is too important not to.
Don’t let stubbornness, tradition, trend or anything else keep you or make you go. Make sure God is doing the leading. Besides, every church (as with every organization/business) has a life-cycle full of ups and downs. Grow through it with a people somewhere, and refuse to be a mere consumer.
Check out Barna’s research on Church Attendance trends… https://www.barna.org/congregations-articles/45-new-statistics-on-church-attendance-and-avoidance
7) Remind them (and yourself)… it’s not about you. Yes, church is about growing in the Lord through the preaching, teaching, worship and fellowship. We need encouragement and resourcing to be and do better as Christ followers. However, this is only part of the equation. Teach your children by example that church is about what you bring to the Lord through your local ministry. How can we pray for our pastors, serve with our leaders, worship with gladness, connect with our community and more as the family of God?
Your kids won’t always like church. Be honest, neither do you! They can come to appreciate and maybe even love your church for what it really is… the beautiful mess and light to the world that is the Body of Christ.
How do you love your church? Share your thoughts in the Reply section below…