Time is a funny thing. One minute you’re a new parent trying to figure out what day it is because you're not sure when you last had a full night’s sleep. The next day, your child is 16 and you’re just hoping to have more than 5 minutes of their time as they jump from school to activities to time with their friends.
Your time with your kids is limited. After all, there are only 24 hours a day. A lot of those 24 hours are already accounted for by:
- Spending 7.5 hours in front of a screen for entertainment
- Sleeping for 7.5 hours
- At school for 6.5 hours
No matter how your kid is dividing their time, it’s important to recognize that a significant portion of their time may be spent in environments where they’ll be surrounded by discouraging voices. Church, on the other hand, can provide relief from the negativity and provide space for your kid to be reminded of their value, their gifts, and the hope they can have in Christ.
However, encouraging your child to build the consistent habit of going to church is easier said than done. Compared to things like hygiene, eating right, and going to school, church can sometimes feel trivial to a kid who is growing and developing their own opinions. Here’s why we think going to church matters for your kids:
1. Life throws challenges at all of us.
The writer of Hebrews 10:23-25 reminds us of the importance of holding tightly to God’s promises. By consistently placing ourselves in environments where God’s promises are at the forefront – that he hasn’t forgotten us and he is near – God’s voice becomes louder than our shame, disappointment, and temptation. When our kids inevitably face challenges – they don’t make the team, they get another failing grade, or the school bully targets them - imagine how impactful it could be for them to be reminded that God’s promises are truer than any negative feelings they have.
2. Character matters.
As parents, it’s normal to worry about our kids’ character. Will they be kind, will they ever learn to share their toys, or maybe one day say they love their little sister? At church, your kids will hear truths from the Bible and can grow and deepen their relationship with Jesus – both of which are key influences in their developing character.
3. A good church community can feel like a second family.
Leaders serving in kidVenture Island, Collide, and HSM remember what it feels like to be a kid away from a parent, a middle schooler that is trying to figure out where they belong, and a high schooler who is wrestling with what they believe. They won’t shy away from talking honestly with your kids about these different stages and giving them space to process their big doubts and questions. Your kids’ leaders are ready to be your biggest cheerleader in pointing your kids to Jesus.
4. Attending church is linked to better health and happiness!
Harvard researchers studied nearly 5000 students and found that those who attended church weekly in childhood and adolescence were about 18% more likely to report higher happiness as adults! Building the consistent habit of attending church can set your kids up for a happier life down the line.
Getting in the habit
Now that we’ve established how beneficial gathering is for our kids, how can we encourage them to jump in and gather each week?
Get them serving!
Not only does serving give your kid a reason to regularly get out to church, it also gives them a chance to discover and make use of the unique gifts God has given them. Serving also gives your kid the opportunity to impact others, develop responsibility, and learn about who they are and what they’re passionate about.
Inspire, don’t nag.
It can be easy for your kids to tune out when you start telling them why they should go to church. Instead of trying to persuade them to go, let your own journey of life change be the thing that inspires them. Talk often with your kids about the teaching you hear at church and how it stirs your heart. Tell stories about the fun and friendship you have in your Group. Host a Group at your home so that they can see the life change in adults around them and what church is meant to be.
Keep in mind kids can sniff out inauthenticity a mile away – If you’re merely putting on a show to get your kids to church, your plans will backfire. To truly inspire your kids to go to church and invest in their relationship with Jesus, you may need to do a gut check and make sure your example is worth following!
Talk about life’s difficult questions.
No matter what your personal experience has been at church, the Church, on a broader scale, has gained an unpleasant reputation for being a hostile environment. A recent Lifeway survey cites that 32% of young adults ages 22-30 stopped going to church because church members seemed judgmental and hypocritical.
Remember that life change is a process, and along the way your kid may start asking some tough questions or wrestling with big doubts. Don’t be afraid of this – instead, welcome it! Strong faith can come from big processing; the space you give your kid to develop ownership of their beliefs may make a huge difference. Remind your kid that church can be a great place to get the answers they’re looking for.
Let them choose.
What matters most is that your kids are exposed to other people who love and worship God. Allowing your kid some say in how and when they do this can give them a greater sense of ownership over their faith. Give them space to consider if they’d rather go to the main gathering with you, be a part of High School Ministry during the week, start a Group, or a combination of those. While we as parents want the best for our kids, we need to remember that this is about their faith, not ours.
Change is a big part of life as a kid. Between new teachers, joining clubs and teams, and learning to drive, there’s likely always something new or different happening in your child’s life! Church is a place where they can find consistent encouragement, growth, and truth in their rapidly changing world. Gathering every week can majorly impact the course of their life.
For more resources on the value and purpose of gathering at church, check these out:
Message: What Happens When We Gather?
Article: 3 Ways Going to Church Makes Your Faith Stronger
LCBC stands for Lives Changed By Christ. We are one church in multiple locations across Pennsylvania. Find the location closest to you or join us for Church Online. We can’t wait to connect with you!