For the past 12 years that Mandy and I have been raising kids, it is very rare that we actually ride in the same car together to go to church. I have served in pastoral ministry for our entire marriage, which has meant that I get to church far earlier than anyone else. This also means that Mandy has championed the responsibility of getting our kids ready (from 1 kid to eventually 4 kids) for church on a week-to-week basis. She has rarely missed a Sunday due to illness (her or the kids), and even though many Sundays can be a struggle, our children have come to learn that going to church on Sundays is a mainstay in our family routine.
One of the greatest convictions I have had as a parent is being confronted with the possibility that church on Sundays can still feel like somewhat of a surprise to our children due to a greater emphasis being placed on the busyness of the other 6 days of the week and then Sunday mornings feeling like somewhat of a disruption to our lives.
Several years ago Mandy and I started being more intentional about the car ride to church beginning on Monday. Obviously, we aren’t hopping into the car Monday morning and then driving really slowly to the church so that we arrive 6 days later! What I mean by “the car ride to church beginning on Monday” is trying to answer the question,
“What are we doing as parents throughout the week to prepare our kids for church on Sunday?”
This question caused us to consider other helpful questions, like:
“How often to do we read the Bible with our kids during the week?”
“Do the kids witness that we, as parents, have our own personal devotion to God outside of Sunday morning church services?”
“Do our lives throughout the week center around a reverence for God through word and deed?”
“Are we, as parents, taking it upon ourselves to share the Gospel with our children, and not just relying upon the pastor and Sunday school teachers to do it for us?”
One of my greatest encouragements to parents who are currently struggling with negative attitudes from their children about attending church on Sundays is this; what are you doing throughout the week to communicate to your whole family that your faith is important to YOU?
With the prevalence of youth and children’s ministries in churches today, it can be easy for parents to mask the absence of spiritual devotion in the home by trying to find a church that has an entertaining youth ministry for their children to go to. Parents will often think along the lines of, “maybe I just need to find a more entertaining church that my kids will like?”.
While it can certainly be true that your kids will enjoy an entertaining church or ministry, it doesn’t negate the fact that their homelife (that is supposedly Christian) is void of any reverent devotion to God throughout the rest of the week. Even though your kids may still be blessed and hear the true Gospel at those youth ministries, God still holds you accountable for your neglect in the home throughout the week. If instilling proper spiritual habits in the home is disinteresting to you, then what gives you confidence that you are a Christian?
If you are already feeling defeated or overwhelmed and even anticipating the resistance to changes that you want to implement in your home, just remember to start with your own spiritual disciplines. Don’t try to force change upon your household if they are not yet convinced that you are also doing it for your own good. If your family gets the sense that you are simply trying to make them change, then you can pretty much count on any changes being virtually impossible to successfully implement.
Parents, when your kids are convinced that you love God (Sunday through Saturday), they will know why church is so important to you. It’s not too late to start.
In your own way, start your car ride to church on Monday. Don’t wait until Sunday morning to get your kids ready for church!
As an evil father saved by God’s goodness,