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I Don’t Want To Force My Kids To Go To Church: Part One

I Don’t Want To Force My Kids To Go To Church: Part One

 

“My parents made me go to church when I was little, and I hated it. I’m not going to do that to my kids.”  I have heard that a lot in the almost 30 years I have been a pastor.  I am guessing at least some of you worry that your kids will conclude the same thing when they are adults, so let’s talk about that.

God is clear that gathering to worship him and hear his word is not optional.  The Third Commandment is “Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.”  (Exodus 20:8)  God is telling us two things there: 1) Remember to go to church, and 2) keep that day “holy” or set apart for God.  So we sin if we treat “church” as optional.  We sin when we put other things ahead of gathering with fellow believers to hear God’s Word.  God tells us that going to church is to be a habit, and that getting out of that habit is not good.  “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another– and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”(Hebrews 10:25)  In Luke 4:16, we are told that Jesus (our role model as well as Savior) “went into the synagogue (church in those days) as was his custom.”

God also clearly wants children and even our babies in church.  We find children at worship services in the Old Testament.  After entering Canaan, the Israelites conducted a worship service where the Word of God was read “to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children.” (Joshua 8:35) When the King of Judah called the people together to pray for God’s protection from enemy invaders, “all the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.” (2 Chronicles 20:13)

But we bring our children to church not merely because God tells us to, but because we find Jesus, our Savior, in his Word.  Jesus said, “These are the Scriptures that testify about me.” (John 5:39)  We love to hear Jesus tell us in his word that we have been freed from the guilt of our sin, and that he is with us to comfort and strengthen us in all our troubles.  We need Jesus to open our eyes to what is true and what is false, what is good and beneficial and what is evil and harmful, so we can stay on the path of faith that leads to heaven, and glorify him along the way.

Parents, remind your children often that we go to church because that is where we hear God’s Word, and that is where find our Savior and this good news:

He [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  And he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-19)