As the wife of a children’s pastor I see a trend in our churches today, which grieves me greatly. Not only are kids, once they reach adulthood, walking away from the church—in staggering numbers—I fear that we are teaching our children to be consumer Christians.
How are we doing this?
- When we use the church as a babysitting service, we are teaching our kids that the church is there to serve us.
- When we put more emphasis on our kids sitting in a chair to be taught, over teaching them to use their hands to serve, we are teaching them that What you get is more important than what you give.
- When we focus on how much fun our kids had at church, rather than taking time to find out what they learned, and then, going over it with them, we are teaching them Keeping you entertained matters most to me.
- When we neglect to thank the people who freely give of their time for our child’s spiritual growth and teaching, we are teaching our kids that we expect others to serve us.
- When we pick up our child late from their Sunday school class, we are teaching our kids that WE are more important than the people who serve us.
What can you as a parent do to change this?
- Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). If we are to be like Jesus we need to serve, and we need to teach our children to serve. Find opportunities for your child to serve, even better serve with your child. When we serve with our kids, we teach them not only how to serve and love others, we teach them that his or her personal walk with God matters to us.
- Put more emphasis on their behavior rather than on whether they had fun. When we ask questions like, “Did you listen to what the teacher said?” and “Did you help or encourage anyone today?” It teaches our child they can make a difference and that their conduct matters.
- Know what your child is being taught. If you’re not talking with your kids about what they learn at church, it sends a message that what they are learning doesn’t really matter to you. Make a time each week to discuss what they are learning and how God is speaking to them. Better yet, sit in on their classes. Even better, serve in their class.
- Go out of your way to honor those who work with your child. When your child sees you honoring those who serve him or her, it teaches them they matter and those that serve matter. When our two oldest children were in first and second grade, they were in the same Sunday school class at church. A delightful, newly married young couple, led their class. My husband and I invited this adorable teaching duo to our home for dinner where we honored them, and thanked them for their service. Our kids loved this, and we all had a magnificent evening. Our son is a pastor today, and our daughter is married to a pastor, when we honor those who serve our kids we teach our kids we put a high value on serving others.
- When we teach our children to serve, we teach the next generation that the church is a place they belong, a place they can make a difference, a place where they can see and feel God’s love in action.
Let’s teach our children, they can make a difference for Jesus.
Let’s teach our children, Jesus can work through them because they matter.
Let’s teach our children, the church is where they belong.
Let’s teach our children, the church is not there to serve you; the church is there for you to express your love for God, and to serve others.
Until next time, love God, love others, and love your kids by showing God’s love in action.