I Don’t Want To Force My Children To Go To Church: Part Two

I Don’t Want To Force My Children To Go To Church: Part Two

 The kids are slow getting ready for church, whining about how they don’t want to go, so mom or dad yells, “I said, ‘Get ready!’  We’re going to church!’”  Or maybe the whining sounds like this: “Why do we have to go?”  And the response is: “Because I said so!  Now get ready!”  There’s not a lot of joy in those exchanges, is there?   The tone and content of those conversations make it sound like we go to church only because we HAVE TO.  Parents, we can do better than that.

While God commands that we (and our kids) worship him, we DON’T worship God out of a slavish sense of obligation. It is our JOY to worship our kind God and merciful Savior and hear his saving word!  We agree with David: “I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” (Psalm 122:1)  “I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your Word.” (Psalm 119:6)  When God invites us,“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:3), we jump at the invitation to enjoy the gourmet buffet for our souls that is God’s Word!  We say with David, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103)

It is our joy to worship God and hear his Word because he gives us joy and blessings in the process!   He promises that.  “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” The mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13,14)

We want to share this promised joy with our kids, just like the Israelites did at the worship service when the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt. “On that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”(Nehemiah 12:43)  By the way, even our babies join in the rejoicing at worship.  Jesus said so! “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.”  (Matthew 21:16)  We hear the gospel at church- the good news that, for Jesus’ sake, God cares about sinners like us, forgives us, helps us in our needs, delivers us from troubles, gives us strength for challenges, guides our lives in love, and will finally take us to heaven.  What could give us more joy than that!

So parents, show your children and tell your children how glad and willing you are to hear God’s Word when it is time to go to church!  Show how glad you are to read and learn God’s Word with them at home.  Especially tell them how Jesus gives you joy in the gospel that is unmatched and eternal, and let that joy show each day.  Make it obvious that Jesus makes hearing and learning God’s Word not a joyless HAVE TO thing, but a joyful WANT TO thing for you…and for them too!