Note: This is the third of a planned series of blogs on the family. Follow the Family Fridays tag in the future for more articles.
In my pastoral experience, taking your children to church is a huge parenting advantage. The belief that children cannot benefit from “big church” has been harmful to children and their families.
Here are a few things both you and your children gain when you take your children to church.
Children learn to sit quietly
The best way to teach children to learn to sit quietly is to put them in a place where they need to sit quietly. The average parent that doesn’t take their children to church only has a few random opportunities to teach this important issue. The parent that takes their children to church gets the opportunity weekly (or more).
And the ability to sit quietly through something you don’t want to sit through is a very important skill! In fact, it is a necessary adult skill, and the parents job is to make children into adults.
If you want to be able to take your children to a restaurant, or a walk through a museum, or a community social gathering, or a lecture at the local university, take them to church this Sunday. Make them sit with you. The first Sunday (or the first dozen) might be a terrible experience, but it is worth it in the long run.
Parents learn to teach their children to behave
Taking your children to church not only trains children, it is great training ground for parents! How does a dad or a mom train “little Johnny” to sit still and be quiet? In many modern settings, there is no training ground for this. These are skills you can’t get from a book. During the middle of a church service, are you really going to talk reason into Johnny, giving him two agreeable choices, and counting to three waiting on the little monster to decide? (Insert laughing grandpa sound effect).
A church is a family-friendly place for parents to learn to train their children in grown-up ways. If your church is not friendly to this training, I’d personally recommend another church.
Children learn adult concepts
While there may be a short children’s’ sermon in a church service, the bulk of the service is adult oriented. The sermon is, hopefully, filled with Scripture and theology that is far above the child’s educational level. Not only is this okay, this is actually beneficial for your child. The child may be coloring or daydreaming or counting the tiles on the ceiling, but the sound is still going into his ears and he is absorbing and contemplating far more than parents may realize. Even in a sermon that mom or dad may consider “boring,” the child is learning. They may not understand it all, but learning something on an adult level is an excellent learning habit.
Children meet older people
I love multi-generational churches. I’ve always been blessed to pastor multi-generational churches. And a huge benefit of children attending church with their parents is that they get to meet older people. They find that there are some really nice and really interesting adults in the world. As they get older, they love and care for these individuals. The children will grow up and someday go mow the lawn for these folk, or wash the car, or watch the cat while the couple goes on a trip. And knowing older people is one of the greatest joys a child can have, with life-long impact. Almost all of us who grew up in church can think of that older man or woman or couple that implanted indelibly positive memories.
And for those of us who are “older people,” let’s work hard to reach out to those children and be a blessing! (A pocket full of candy won’t hurt!)
Parents and Children can talk about theological concepts
What a blessing to go home from church and be able to talk about the theological concepts that came up in the sermon. To talk about grace, about the Apostle Paul, about the dispensation of the grace of God, about Israel and the church and the future and the Kingdom of God and…
I think you understand. Church doesn’t have to be a place that parents drive away from and say, “did you have fun today?” Rather, it can be a place where you drive away and say, “What did you think about the words to that song?” And, “Wasn’t that a wonderful testimony that Mr. Jones gave?” And, “I really liked learning about the Second Coming…What did you learn about it today?”
God bless parents who take their kids to church!