Do you choose a church based on your perceived needs of your children? This question has come to me in various forms over the years. Some are looking for a larger youth group or children’s program. Some families attend churches where their children do not have peers, or in one instance, they did not like the “type of children” that were attending the program. In either case, they begin looking for another church. The parents start investigating the churches in the area and where most of their child’s school friends attend. Then . . . They go.
I have four children. I share this with you so that you will understand that I know the desire for your kids to be in an environment where you think they will flourish. As a parent, you desire the best for your children. If you are a parent and you are struggling with this question, I would like to share a few things with you.
It is your job to lead the home
Your child is a gift from God, and you are stewarded to lead them in a manner that glorifies God. There are times that we as parents tend to relinquish power to our children that they are not ready to handle. It is not your child’s responsibility to choose a church for your family to attend; the weight is on your shoulders as a parent.
It is your job to point to Christ
In the process of evaluating a move, please consider the function of your home in the spiritual life of your child. God designed the household to be the primary place of theological instruction, and he gave us the church to help accomplish the task. Before you move to a different church for the sake of your children, evaluate if your home is taking the primary role of spiritual development.
The responsibility of the parent is more than just transportation to church services and functions. Parents have the responsibility to instruct and instill Scripture into the lives of their children. Please do not consider leaving a church that seems to have little to offer your children if you are not giving your children the foundation they need in the home. If the foundation of the household is faithful, the children will lack nothing.
As a parent, you attend church for your spiritual health, and the byproduct of that pursuit will be a spiritually healthy home and spiritually fed children. Your children will follow in your footsteps, they will worship as your worship, and they will feast on God’s Word as they watch you study God’s Word. You are a far more significant influence than any local church.
Older generations are a gift
We have a ‘s wonderful children’s program at Oak Ridge Baptist Church. The lessons that our children receive are second to none. However, I find that the program is not the foremost blessing for our children – it is the people in the church.
I sat today and watched my 8-year-old sit and have lunch with people much older than him. In fact, one is over 80. He loves these people, and the people love him. I see my 12-year-old sit and work with ladies well beyond her in age, and it is a blessing. They have helped teach her to sew and crochet – she learns from them. They model an ethic, propriety, and love of Christ that is often absent among her peers. My two middle sons love the men in our church. They see how these men treat their wives and how they serve the church body. These blessings are invaluable to my children and me.
Church isn’t about your children
The church is about God and displaying His glory. If we choose a church based on what the church offers our children, we are inadvertently teaching them that church is about them. We instill a consumerist idea about the church that only harms the church and our children. Be careful that you do not teach them that God is just honored in the “bigger and better.” Teach them about contentment and looking for the blessings God has given in the church you currently attend.
I pray these thoughts will help you as you serve your church, or as you look for a church.