And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kids in Church

What is "church"? How do you define it for your kids? When I was growing up I went to various churches with family members and friends but because my family did not belong or regularly attend a particular church, I didn't really understand that the church was more than a building until I was an adult. The church building is where we go but the people make the church.

Matthew 18:20 says "for where two or three people are gathered in my name, I am there with them." In my name....where we gather in the name of Jesus, He will be with us. That can be in a church building, at a game, in a car, anywhere. However for most Christians the church has become more than a place to gather in His name.

For some it has become a place to be entertained. A place to be seen. A place to make themselves feel good. Is that what it is meant to be? How are we serving the Lord if we go to benefit ourselves?

We struggle with getting our kids to see beyond hanging out with their friends on Sunday mornings. They have both been incredibly blessed with some wonderful Sunday School teachers that strive to get them in God's word every Sunday morning. Sunday service is a whole different thing. It's hard for kids to stay interested and involved in a sermon. They go through the motions of standing to sing but rarely do they participate in the singing. This is where we are focusing right now. Every Sunday.

I don't want our kids to be part of the big percentage of kids raised in the church that leave the church in young adulthood. I want to teach them now that going to church and serving God aren't always fun. Sometimes it is downright uncomfortable. Was Moses comfortable when God told him to lead the people out of Egypt? Was Noah comfortable building the ark? Was Paul (formerly Saul) enjoying himself when he had his drastic change from church persecutor to Christian? Was Jesus experiencing the feel goods as He awaited the cross? We know that the answer to all of those is "no". Every one of them experienced hesitation in their task to serve God. So we need our kids to learn about that uncomfortable feeling now. We want them to work through it starting now so it won't be so difficult when they are adults. So what are we doing specifically to show them?

~We're at church on a very consistent basis. I can count the number of Sundays we typically miss in a year on one hand. Unless someone is sick or we are out of town, we're at church on Sunday mornings. Sure we'd rather sleep in or take a Sunday off but serving God comes before our own wants.

~We're involved. We've changed church congregations before but we are very committed to being involved in once church on a consistent basis. We know it is important to be involved in the church we attend because if we aren't serving in a church then are we really serving the Lord? We make it a point to be involved in Sunday School and to have our kids involved in Sunday School. If we didn't go to Sunday School then would they really take Sunday School seriously? Lead by example.
       We also take on leadership roles when needed. The church needs leaders. It isn't always something that's comfortable for us either. We do things we don't want to do sometimes. That's how you really serve God. Step outside of yourself, your wants, your interests and do what He asks you to. Go on that missions trip, serve on that committee, lead that class, while you may start out reluctantly you're sure to be blessed if you lay yourself aside.

~Because we serve, our kids serve. They are also expected to take part. When there's an opportunity we ask them to get involved. It isn't always something they enjoy. Sometimes they complain but we ask them to do it anyway. We talk with them about how the project or class or duty is a way to serve God. They know it is important to us because they see us doing the same thing. They know we aren't half-hearted in our efforts and so they aren't either (usually....because they are still kids). Now that they are a little older they rarely even try to get out of something because they know we will say "no".

~Once we've/ they've committed to something it will be until the end. Whether the end is a semester or a year or a month or a service we show them and they know that commitments are to be honored. And for that reason we do try not to say "yes" unless we know it is something we really can do. No one should say yes to everything (unless you want to be a stressed out crazy person) and if it really isn't feasible for your family, time restraints, etc then you should say no at the start, not half way through, not when you get tired of it.

~We work on issues as they arise. They are both of an age where we want them to actively participate in Sunday morning service. I know they aren't going to listen to every single word or sing every verse of every song but I want to see some participation. I want them to tell me what the sermon was about (at least what they heard before their attention span gave out). We allow Speedy (age 7) to take a couple of very small action figures or cars into service but he knows we will ask him in the car what he heard. Apple (age 9) usually sits with a friend and draws or colors but she also knows she will be asked. We also talk with them both about their Sunday school lessons every week and if ours was relevant to theirs or to the sermon then we share with them. Having a conversation about church outside of church shows them that it's important to us and that we are interested.

VBS 2014

Obviously we love it when we are having fun with our church family and when are kids are having a good time. It's just important that they know it won't always be a party.

We are still a work in progress as a family. We are constantly learning and adapting as our kids get older and as our relationship with the Lord deepens.

What are your best tips for getting kids involved in church?

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