(I’m very excited to have Ben Reed as my guest today. He’s one of my favorite bloggers and his sincere love for the folks he ministers to and for his family comes through in every post. His new book, Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint, is a tremendous resource. It’s on my Kindle. I’d love to put a copy on yours. Leave a comment before Wednesday, April 2, 2014 to be entered to win. Enjoy the post.)
My son gets to hang out in my office quite often. I love that he loves it. Maybe his love is rooted in the toys and candy I keep in the bottom drawer, just for him. But maybe it’s because he just genuinely loves me. I’m banking solely on #1 at this point in his life.
This week, though, my wife was out of town, and Rex had to go to work with me all day.
I had to jump on a conference call, and the movie he was watching was a little loud. I asked him if he wouldn’t mind putting some headphones on. Then he gave me this look.
He’s got the sass of his mama.
One of my goals of fatherhood is to raise a son that doesn’t hate church. It’s not a given reality that my son will grow up loving the Church. As a pastor’s kid, he’s got an uphill battle ahead, especially considering the pastor’s kids I knew growing up. Right now, he’s loving Longhollow, where I’m on staff. But we’ve got a lot of years ahead of us, and I’ve got a lot of work to do to keep us on this path.
My child loving the church his whole life isn’t a given…and neither is it for yours.
Should you ‘force’ your kids to go to church? Or let them choose?
Should you let them go to the main worship service with you when they want? Or put them in the kids area?
Let them wear what they want? Or dress them to the nines?
Here are some intentional actions I’m taking to keep my son from growing up to hate the Church.
8 Ways to Ensure Your Kids Won’t Hate Church
1. Make small group a priority in your life.
Every week, my wife and I go to small group. We help Rex understand how important it is for mommy and daddy to do this, and that through it, we become better parents.
2. Go to churches with amazing children’s ministries.
3. Give your family your best time, not just your leftover time.
I don’t want to always come home tired and frustrated and burned out. It’s easy in the church world to give others your best consistently, and forget that your family is your priority. Whether you’re a volunteer or on staff, giving others your best is easy to give your best to others, because they “need” you and constantly affirm you. When you give others your best, you create resentment in your family.
4. Don’t make church attendance an option for your kids.
Our son never has the option of ‘bargaining’ his way out of going to church. Just like he never bargains his way out of going to bed at night or buckling up in his car seat. It’s not that we ‘force’ anything. We just never give him another option. “How dare you force your kids to go to church?!?” Really? Don’t you ‘force’ your kids to go to school? To go to bed? To eat dinner? To go to the doctor?
5. When I’m home, I’m home.
I don’t want him to think that daddy has to “work” all of the time. I want him to know that when I’m home, I’m really home, not just distracted by work. If you don’t work in a church, it might be different for you, but the principle is the same. Don’t be so distracted by ministry that you neglect the ministry right in front of you.
6. Live out your faith at home and at church.
I’m nowhere near perfect in my life, but my faith is real and active at home and at church. We talk about spiritual things at home, read our Bibles, and pray together consistently.
7. Make prayer a regular part of your public, and private, life.
We don’t just pray at church, or when other people are watching us. We pray together as a family even when it’s not what we ‘have’ to do. When all you do is pray at church, and for others to see, you create an unhealthy, hypocritical dynamic for your children.
8. Don’t rip your pastor in front of your kids.
I don’t try to hold our local church, or any, on a pedestal of perfection…but I also guard my words carefully so that my son doesn’t grow up with a jaded view of the bride for whom Christ died. I don’t want him thinking everybody is perfect, but I also don’t want him growing up not trusting anyone.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6
Do your kids enjoy church? What about you? What did your parents do to help you not hate church?
Ben Reed is the small groups pastor at Long Hollow, a multi-site church in the Nashville, TN, area. He holds an MDiv from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Ben is also an avid coffee drinker and CrossFitter, but not at the same time. Catch up with Ben at BenReed.net. In his book, Starting Small: The Ultimate Small Group Blueprint, he helps leaders through the process of putting a small group ministry together and creating a place where people belong so they can become.