I Won’t Force My Kids To Go To Church

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My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. ‘Ewww, gross! Meatloaf? Seriously? Mom you know we hate this stuff!’ So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done.

“Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.

“My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher. He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again. Who wants to waste their time going somewhere they aren’t being fulfilled?

“We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing. We don’t want to restrict her imagination. We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life.
– Ruth Meyer

Now maybe the above analogies sound ridiculous. I’m sure you’re probably thinking, “No loving parent would let their kids decide whether to go to school or not, and they definitely wouldn’t let their kid play in traffic. That’s endangering their lives.  It’s a matter of life or death.” And that is exactly the point. This is a matter of life or death for your child. Eternity is at stake.

In our family, church is a non-negotiable. It’s a non-negotiable because we understand that how we raise our children, and what we teach them (or don’t teach them) about Jesus carries eternal consequences. And as parents we have a responsibility to share with them what God has done in our lives through the love of Jesus. So we read the Bible together at night and we pray together. We go to church. We talk about God at home and in the car and at the park. Will they always be excited about getting up and going to church? I hope so, but I doubt it. But regardless, my wife and I still make them go because we are their parents and we know what’s best for them. And so, when they complain we will tell them why gathering together with other believers is a non-negotiable. Just like when they complain that we serve them healthy meals we explain why we eat vegetables and not just cake. We take them to school every morning, no matter how much they complain or bellyache. And we explain why school is so important. We set boundaries and limits while they are playing outdoors. We tell them to look both ways when they cross the street, not because we said so, but because to do otherwise means possibly being hit by a car. We do these things because we love them and we are looking at the long term outcome, not what will make them happiest in any given moment.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
– Proverbs 22:6

Will all of that ensure that they turn out to be the model upstanding citizens that my wife and I hope? No. It’s even possible for children to be brought up in a loving Christian home and still turn away from Jesus later. That is out of our control. As parents, our responsibility is to teach our children about the world and about God. We teach them how God created this world perfectly. We teach them how the world became broken through that first sin of Adam and Eve. When their own brokenness shows itself, we point it out, and then we point to the One who came to heal that brokenness: Jesus. And they are never too young to begin learning these things. Each of our children learned to pray while still in highchairs. Our responsibility as Christian parents is about so much more than just taking our kids to church on Sunday mornings.

To say, as a parent, “I won’t force my kids to go to church. I’ll let them decide on their own,” sounds so enlightened. But it’s the most dangerous thing a parent could say. It would be safer for you to let your children play on the highway in rush hour traffic than to let them decide whether or not they wanted to go to church. One of those options carries temporary consequences (if you let your child play on the highway in rush hour traffic they will die), and the other carries potential eternal consequences.

Church isn’t just one good choice among many. Church isn’t a building. Church, properly understood, is the body of Christ, the gathering of believers in a specific place. And as such, it is a place where we all belong. We are all equally sinful before God and equally in need of a Savior. Church isn’t just a place you go. It’s not a place that you go to feel better about yourself. Its not entertainment. Its purpose is not to give you ten easy steps to fix your marriage. Church is the gathering of believers to receive what God has come to give in Jesus.

Jesus Himself said, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” – Matthew 18:20

So when we come together as the body of Christ, the church, we confess our sins. Then, having confessed our brokenness and need, we hear those great and unfathomable words of forgiveness. We hear that, though our sins are many, and we in no way deserve grace, God in Jesus has forgiven us. We hear God’s word spoken to us as Scripture is read, and we speak those words to each other through various parts of the service. We sing songs and hymns praising and proclaiming what Jesus has done for us. We hear sermons that proclaim the good news of forgiveness in Jesus.

Don’t give up and don’t give in to those outside voices that tell you how much more important sleep, or schoolwork, or band, or sports, or anything may be than coming together for worship each week. Instead, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25)

 

Check out http://truthnotes.net/2014/03/24/why-i-would-never-force-my-kids-to-go-to-church/  for Ruth Meyer’s article.

 

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182 thoughts on “I Won’t Force My Kids To Go To Church

  1. You don’t belong to the Church. There is only one Church and it was founded by Christ on Peter and the Apostles. It is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. The early Christians held the Eucharist as the center of their worship, because that is the way Christ intended to leave Himself with us. You do not honor or recognize this essential Christian truth. You go to some sort of quasi-Christian worship center, that does not dispense sanctifying grace in the Sacraments Christ established nor does it recognize the Apostolic Faith, or the Biblical structure of the consecrated leaders of the Church, consisting of Bishops, Presbyters (priests) and Deacons. You don’t have a Bishop because you are not part of the New Testament Church. You have departed from the only Church that exists. And thus, it really doesn’t matter what you do with your children. You are all outside the Church and it really doesn’t matter whether you go to a protestant “worship center” or not. Your false religion is not salvific.

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  2. This is an excellent post. I am not yet a parent, but I know that every Christian parent is one day going to have to stand before God and give an account of how they raised their children. On that day I want to say with confidence that I did everything I could to care for their greatest need–salvation. I want to say that I took them to church–maybe even forced them to go–because God’s word was being preached and it never returns empty.

    Thanks for this post.

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  3. Well here goes…….. you can force your children to go to church, but you can’t force them to have open ears to hear, hearts that accept Christ , a love for God’s word or love for God either for that matter. My daughter was “forced” to church until she turned 18 and we were really no longer able to make her attend. Now, she comes with us of her own choosing. Not every week but sometimes. When she does go, we have great discussions about the message, and I know she’s hearing more now than she ever did when we were making her go. I’m very certain I shall be found wanting as a mother , but she doesn’t belong to me, she belongs to God. Her salvation doesn’t depend on my perfection as a parent, and I believe in the power of prayer.

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  4. With me I never felt forced; in fact, I looked forward to “assembling together”…we do have a responsibility to “train up our children” and I mean “set the example” by being there ourselves, not “send them”.

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  5. Church is good kids should go n learn about the Lord then if they quit it’s there right everyone has free will even to choose to go to hell not saying going to church means that you won’t go to hell you have to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to get to heaven for it says I’m the way the truth and the life no man may enter except through me said Jesus

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  6. I agree with some points in this article, but there is so much more that plays into raising Godly children than simply taking them to church Sunday mornings. The same principles need to be working in the home. And as children get older, they need to be able to start making decisions on their own. This isn’t a one size fits all article. I was forced to go to ever single service the church offered and while I had fun while I was young, As I got older I didn’t want to go as often. My parents never listened or were sensitive to my feelings or opinions at all growing up and it was worse when I was older and I suffered from a lot of anxiety and they thought I was just being dramatic. They continued to force me to go and I began to resent them and God. 8 years later, I still don’t go to church, but I am stronger in my walk with God and prayer life than I have ever been in my life. Being a believer is more than going to church on Sundays.

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    1. Thanks Danielle. I’m sorry to hear that that was your experience and I’m glad that your walk with God is still strong. This article makes the assumption (and perhaps its a big one) that parents will not simply force their kids to church “because I told you so,” but will actually teach them the importance of meeting together as Jesus and the Biblical witness holds out and also that they will be teaching their kids about Jesus themselves and not just leaving it up the the church on Sunday mornings.

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  7. I don’t agree with this article but i respect your point of view. My daughter i let her choose if she wants to believe in god but i also teach her other religion so she has a choice an not being put in a box being told what she has to believe. And let me tell you what shes very open minded and non judgemental because of it.

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    1. Thanks for the response Ruick. And I appreciate your respect.

      My view of course comes from a place where I believe that God does exist and that he cares very deeply who they live for.

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  8. I was once one of these children that were forced to go to church. But did it keep me from loving and believing God when I became an adult? The answer is, “No.” But did I get anything out of the whole church experience while attending every Sunday. The answer again is, “No.” So when I had my kids I laid down some church rules that they could or could not adhere to when they became adults. My husband and I agreed since we had to cough up a lung before we could stay home from church that we would not put our own children into that situation. So we explained to them that going to church was something that we did for God and family; but when they reached the age of accountability that they could or could not choose to attend with us. Because my kids grew up with the sense of knowing a head of time that God was not going to be forced on them they chose all on their own to make the right decisions and that was to continue attending services on Sunday. Whether they went as a family unit or alone they still continue today and are well into their thirties and bringing their own children with them.

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  9. Gotta say, anyone who isn’t a “true believer” is going to roll their eyes at that reasoning. Your jumping off point is “my religion is absolutely true and to not believe that is to die spiritually.” Well, when you put it that way, you immediately change the debate from “Should I force my kids to go to church?” to “Is your set of beliefs literally the only way to return to God?”

    I don’t eat for extended periods, I weaken and die. There is no debate about that. I don’t go to church for extended periods . . life goes on, and more happily for some. True story. You believe foregoing church has negative eternal consequences, goodie for you, but all kinds of people believe that about their religion. They can’t all be right. Would you say a Muslim parent should force their children to follow Islam for the same reasons? Maybe you would, but do you believe that not doing so would have eternal consequences?

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    1. Thanks for the reply SloppyJ…You are correct, the article is written with a specific audience in mind…namely followers of Jesus. For a follower of Jesus the conclusions in it should not come as a surprise (sadly that is not always the case).

      You are also correct that not all religions are correct. But I would expect that a devout Muslim would consider taking their children to worship their god to be just as important.

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  10. Thanks for pointing out the importance of training up our children to follow Christ. The Lord’s commands to train up our children in the faith are not based on our feelings or convenience. We can only honor Christ as we are obedient to His teachings no matter what the world (or our kids) say or don’t say. We really must go to church and take our children with us.

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  11. You’re absolutely right that children need to learn the teachings of the Bible, it is the ONLY true way to know the Lord and develop a genuine moral compass with which humans can direct their spiritual and physical lives.

    What is everyone’s favorite Bible passage? Mine is Ezekiel 23:20

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  12. Was so thankful when my granddaughter refused to do the spring soccer in HS because all games were on Sunday. My daughter would not force them to go but we make sure they are there every other week and it is rare they skip the other weeks.

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  13. There comes a point in time where kids do decide for themselves and forcing them to go WILL make it worse. We were raised going to church and at the age of 15 when my brother started doubting and deciding not to go, my Preacher grandfather warned my mom that forcing him to go is only going to make it worse. If we are talking about young kids here then I understand but in the context of teenagers forcing them to do something only makes them dislike it more. My brother slowly came back on his own once my mom took the pressure off of him and stopped forcing him to do so. Good churches are hard to find these days, especially for teenagers (teenage kids are cruel, regardless of religion) and for many teenagers the unpleasant experiences can turn them off to the religion in its entirety. Like my grandpa said, “He’s better off fishing on a lake and thinking about God than he is sitting in church and thinking about fishing.”

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  14. My problem with the analogies is that eating, not playing in traffic, and getting an education are proven necessities. Religions are based on beliefs that may or may not be true. Most of you are Christians based on circumstance. Most likely your parents were and you grew being told if you don’t go to church you’ll live in eternal hell fire.

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  15. Defiantly a very interesting article. I see the points and agree to an extent. I was raised as a Catholic and did go to church until confirmation. I don’t have kids yet but I really would like to teach them about God when that time comes. As some people have posted already when they are little it will be easier to “make them go” but when they are older it can be a different story. It can also depend on the church as well. The catholic church I went to as a child seemed a bit “boring” at the time but as I got older I went to a different church and it was a lot more fun but was still learning about faith. I was forced but over all I’m glad I was. I don’t go to church as often as I should at the moment but I belive in God and try to pray to him often. My husband isn’t religious so that will be interesting when that time comes.

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  16. I am so glad my Mother made m
    e go to church, because in time, I became involved and then I LOVED CHURCH….accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior……I am married and have grown children, and yes they rebelled at times…..but they both continue in church, and of their belief that I taught them…It is the only way for me……Have read of other religions, etc….but none of them have a risen Lord who came out of the grave……something to think about….it is a personal decision….but children need directions from parents….I once talked to some females who were incarcerated for various offenses from shoplifting , drugs, even attempted murder and they ALL told me, had they had the positive influence of parents who cared to take them to church, and teach them right from wrong….their lives would have been different….parents, keep on doing the right thing…It will pay off in the end!!!! God bless u all!!!!

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    1. I agree Eric, it gets much more difficult and complicated as kids get older. Probably the best thing you can do, is to continue to talk with him about it. Listen to his complaints/concerns…as some people have mentioned in the comments there may be valid reasons he is struggling with it. And then continue to explain why its so important…No guarantees with that or any approach you take, but at the very least they will know that you care enough to listen and why you believe that it is so important. God’s blessings to you and your family!

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  17. I’m not a parent yet; but I will require anyone living under my roof to attend church.
    I like the points this blog makes and all; but as a parent it is important that you are not Satan’s “tool” to turn your children away from God. A book that is a great read is “already gone” by Ken Ham. It talks about why young people grow up and don’t go to church, and how to prevent it.

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  18. Years and years ago parents sent their children to church because there was not a church building on every corner like today. Parents who sent their children sacrificed themselves for the “betterment and hope” for a brighter future. Thank GOD they did. God deserves the praise not the church.

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  19. I am a mother of four. Not going to church is not an option in my house. Our oldest son is 16 and has not decided if he wants to be a Christian. As a mom it breaks my heart, but I also know that he is searching. I teach my kids that they always have to respect what we believe in even if they chose not to believe. Enen my 16 is involved in church and if he had to be honest with himself he would miss it if he did not go. He helps with technology and has found a place to belong. I do not know the choices he will make later on in life but I do know that I will take every opportunity to teach him and show him the importance of God in this crazy world. Lets face it, the devil comes to seek, kill and destroy. I think he targets our teenagers. They are easy targets in today mixed up society. I think it is our jobs as christian parents to fight for our childrens souls. Some day as adults they will have to stand before the Father and they will have to stand on their own faith and their own decissions they have made. I will never stop praying for my children. My son actually once told me to stop praying for him. My response is that I have prayed for him before he was born and I will pray for all my kids as long as God give me breath. I think it is so importance to give them a strong foundation and teach them the importance of church and fellowship with other believers.

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  20. I love the dedication shown in this article. Our family went to Church. Every week. I remember asking my dad one time “Dad, do I have to go to Church today?”. His reply was “You are asking the wrong person. Don’t ask me, go ask Heavenly Father.” Well, I never did, because I knew what the answer would be. And that ended the discussion. I knew that God wanted me to be in Church. Every week.

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  21. I have a son who stopped coming to church when he was 14. I had watched this happen to other families and had always thought that they should just “make” their children come. I thought, “they are the parent – take away their phone. etc. etc.” But when it was happening to me, I found out how terribly judgmental and unknowing that I had been. In fact, as we prayed and fasted about what to do, Heavenly Father taught me a lesson about what personal agency really means. And we knew that the right thing was to let him choose – and that if we forced him to come it would just push him farther away from the church. My husband and I both received the same revelation and then it was restated by our Stake President in some personal counseling. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – to let him choose to not come.

    Just because this was the right thing for my son, doesn’t mean it is the right thing for every child/situation. Only Heavenly Father knows exactly what that child needs. When parents pray and fast like crazy, they’ll get the promptings that they need for their own children.

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  22. My eldest is so willful that she will not go to church if she doesn’t want to, no matter how much I try to get her to come. She came to church in the run up to Christmas, but hasn’t been since. She has all sorts of tactics that usually end up in my son and I being late and her still at home.

    I think that the problem comes from the fact that I am a christian and my husband is not. He knows the score and is happy to remain married to me. This makes the whole parenting thing and faith so much more difficult.

    I continue to pray for both of them, but really, I cannot force my daughter to go to church. I wholeheartedly agree with your reasoning and I find my situation heartbreaking at times. I take heart that God has put me in the situation I am in for a reason and will work through my son and I, I am certain.

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  23. I was raised to go to Church every Sunday unless you have a fever. I didn’t understand why I had to go. I changed denominations when I married my husband and I had a better understanding of going to Church but we made a decision that we would not force my kids to go to Church. I went to Church for a while with my kids but I quit going but my kids didn’t. We talked about God, read the Bible and prayed. I have been back in Church for several years and my kids are grown and they do go to Church not all the time but they go. My siblings do not go to Church except for Christmas and Easter.

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  24. I agree that it is important for our children to go to church and be under the influence of godly men and women who help to mentor and teach them the Word of God. I also believe that if they start to show signs of not wanting to go, then there may be other issues involved than just “going to church.”

    When my 16 year old was 12/13, she began hating going to church. Our family as a whole didn’t really fit into the church, but for her, she wasn’t like the other kids in youth group. She wanted friends and didn’t really have any. She didn’t go to the school that was at that church. There was a turning point in the church when our family decided that we needed to make a change, not just for one, but for all of us.

    I have seen many children grow up in Christian churches and circles (from many walks of life), only to walk away when they had the opportunity. Many have been from college friends (a Christian college), other acquaintances, but many were from the church we decided to leave. There are different levels of “walking away” in my eyes. There is walking away from church because you don’t like things that happen, you’ve been hurt, hypocrisy, etc. These may walk away from the church as a group/bldg, but they still have their belief in God. I have also seen some walk away from God totally.

    For our family situation, we decided that if we took our daughter to a church where she was comfortable being active and involved, the likelihood of her walking away in either of the above examples was far less. We were able to find a church where she has made friends, loves to sing and worship God in service with other believers, and enjoys hearing the messages. I am not a person to do the “church-hopping” that I have seen many do, but should my children display disdain for church, I will definitely take another look at why and possibly make another change if necessary.

    Changes churches isn’t always the answer. Some told us that to leave would be walking away, giving up, maybe God wanted us to work through the situation. But, there is also a time when you need to say, “I need to make a change so that all can grow.” That is where we were.

    That is a long explanation of where we are with this topic, but I appreciate the thoughts that we need to be in church…all of us, not just our kids. I also believe, however, that if we do decide to miss a week, that God is not going to strike us dead (not really that extreme) as we may have been led to believe when we were growing up in churches where we had to go every time the doors were open.

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  25. “Do I have to go to church?”
    “Are you dead yet?”

    Church had always bern nonegotiable in my family. Illness has always been the only acceptable reason not to go.

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  26. I have always remembered what my dad said to me growing up “if church is not important to you, it won’t be to your children”. I am so thankful going to church was as natural as going to school. I never had to ask “are we going to church today”? I knew the answer. As an adult with two grown children who are active in there own church now, so thankful for godly patents!

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  27. I raised three sons ages 26, 22 and 17 now. I raised them all up going to church every Sunday and now the youngest is the only one who goes and I am afraid when he goes to college he will stop as well. I wish I knew how to raise them with the desire to go when they are adults. Praying they will make God a priority in their lives again one day. It grieves my heart.

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  28. You quote proverbs 22:6 which seems to say that if you show a child how they should live then they will not turn away from it the rest of their life. But then you say that a child could still turn away from Christ when they are older. This seems contradictory. Are you disagreeing with the Bible?

    You also quote Matthew which says something about where there are two or three gathered in Jesus name then He is there. So does that count as church?

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    1. Those are great questions Julian. First Proverbs 22:6 is true, however much depends on how one is training their children. If you read through some of the other comments you can see how some people were turned away from Jesus due to bad parenting. Second, Jesus said that wherever two or three were gathered in his name there he would be with them. The key is not just a couple Christians occupying the same place, but the reason for which they are there; thats the “in my name” part of Jesus’ phrase. As I pointed out in the article this can’t just be reduced to a specific place. But church is wherever believers are gathered in the name of Jesus for worship. Hope that helps.

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      1. Thanks for the quick response James. So I am a new parent and I find the idea that my parenting is the reason my son is saved to be kind of scary. Is that what you are saying?I am trying the best I can but I am human and will never be perfect. It sounds like what you are saying is that bad parenting could cause my son to turn away from Jesus. But isn’t our salvation ultimately in God’s hands? Not even death can separate is from the love of God, right?

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      2. I agree, and I think most parents would, that the responsibility of parenting is terrifying when you stop to think about it. Ultimately the reason that any of us are saved rests on Jesus’ shoulders and not anything that anyone else has done or even a decision that we ourselves make.

        Next, obviously none of us this side of heaven are perfect, and so we’ll make mistakes in parenting…that’s just a given. I think what makes Christian parenting special is that we can be honest with our kids about our sin and mistakes just as we can be with any other person. Its that famous passage from John’s first letter; “If you say you have no sin you deceive yourself and the truth is not in you. But if you confess your sin God is faithful and just to forgive your sin and cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” Teaching that to our children…and modeling that repentance is one of the most powerful things that we can do as parents.

        But, having said all of that, each one of us always has the option to turn away from the free gift of grace and forgiveness that God offers in Jesus. That goes for our kids too. As parents we aren’t responsible for, and can’t push our kids into heaven…Jesus gets all the credit there. But bad parenting can play a part in a child’s ultimate decision to walk away from Jesus. (Thankfully while they are still breathing there is hope that they may return) But the way in which we parent will teach our kids more about what we believe about Jesus than our words alone. For example, I can talk all day long about the amazing grace and forgiveness of Jesus; but if my kids never see that reflected in how I interact with them, then eventually they’ll decide its not something I really believe.

        There are other examples I could give, but you can see in some of the comments how the way in which some parents raised their children (forcing them to go to church, but never listening to the concerns of their children or explaining why it is so vital) had a detrimental effect on their faith.

        Sorry for the long response Julian.

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  29. The God I believe in is not nearly as petty as the one you seem to believe in so I didn’t really identify with this at all. I think going to church is great and an excellent place for fellowship and communal worship. But developing a personal relationship with God is the ultimate goal, and that doesn’t require strict, unforgiving church attendance. Indeed, such a pharisaical view of church attendance seems pretty counter productive to me. What kind of God would without hold eternal blessings simply because you didn’t attend church every week? Or ever? Even if you otherwise lived a very Christlike life? That doesn’t make sense to me at all.

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    1. Thanks for responding Leah. You are correct that we are justified before God not by any action of our own but freely through what Jesus did for us on the cross. I follow Jesus and I have never found him to be petty.

      This article, however is not about justification, but about how best to raise your children to have a deep faith in Jesus. This is not about “strict, unforgiving church attendance,” but about whether or not Christian parents understand the importance of worship in the life of faith. Nowhere in scripture will you find the sort of “go it alone” or “all I need is me and Jesus” mentality that is so prevalent out there today. Oftentimes I have seen this argument used by parents who would rather just not fight their kids on this, or who think that God will understand when everything becomes more important than setting aside time each week to worship Him, or who just don’t want to go themselves.

      Its not that God withholds eternal blessings if you happen to miss a week. Its that by perennially skipping the intentional gathering together with other believers (i.e. church), parents are teaching their children that setting aside time for God each week isn’t that important. And over time, children who worship infrequently learn that worship just isn’t that important. Then when they have children of their own those children grow up and don’t care about God at all…Check out the book of Judges sometime to see how this cycle works generationally.

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  30. I was forced to go to Church every Sunday… even when I didn’t feel like it… guess what… I still go and love His bride… I lead a church with my husband…. wow… it works

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  31. The verse says ‘when they are old they will not depart from it.’ It doesn’t say they never will. I take that to mean they will return to it some day. I never ever sent my children to church – I always took them. When my son turned 18 he said now that I’m 18 I don’t have to go church unless I want to. I said the house rule is that as long as you live under my roof you go to church. I don’t care if you’re 40 years old. He got dressed and went every Sunday until he left home at 19 1/2. Now he goes occasionally but I did what I was supposed to do. We talked about that and I told him he would return th the Lord one day because God promised. He gave me a funny look but didn’t say anything.

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  32. Most young folks don’t desire to attend church because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus. Our job as parents is to first love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and body, if we don’t exhibit passion for Jesus why should they ? Our children should see The character of Christ displayed in us so they develop a desire for Him. We train thousands of young adults every year for missions and most have rarely seen Gods character displayed at home from church going parents or most church going adults. Who would desire to be part of that . When you love Jesus you will desire to be with others of like passion.
    Regardless of the above my children should be in a fellowship where there is life , find that gathering and take them there.

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  33. I grew up in the environment this blog post describes. It did not make me closer to God, and it did not make me feel like I had my own relationship with God. I had the relationship my parents wanted me to have. I followed the rules – did the right things, didn’t do the wrong things. As an adult (and no longer attending “church”), I have realized that God is so much bigger than that. I am finding Him to be more loving and full of grace than I ever learned in church. And my relationship with Him is the best it’s ever been because it is mine, and it does not conform to a pre set list of things I must do to be a Christian. I do not feel that my soul is in danger because I don’t attend church, and I believe that is a very harmful message to teach a child, and counter to what Jesus actually taught.

    I agree with everything you said in the paragraph directly following Proverbs 22:6. Especially when you say it is out of our control as parents what our children will believe when they grow up. I respectfully believe it should be out of our control when they are young as well. It should not be our job to control a child’s faith or relationship with God. Guide, yes. Come along side, be an example, absolutely. But forcing children to fit a preconceived mold of what Christianity looks like is not loving and in my opinion is spiritual abuse. I truly believe that my parents did what they thought was right, but it has taken years and years to unlearn things that I was taught (both spoken and unspoken) and to get past the idea that God will only love you and you are only a Christian if you check all the boxes on the checklist.

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    1. Thanks for the reply Kristen. I will disagree with you, though, on a number of things. Jesus, and the evidence of the first believers in the book of Acts makes quite clear that regular gathering with other believers is of vital importance, both for you and for those other believers. Its not like God will strike you down because you happen to miss a week. But the book of Judges is a great example of what happens when parents neglect their responsibility to teach their children about God and to instill in them healthy habits.

      I’m sorry to hear that you had a bad experience growing up and I am genuinely glad to hear that you still have faith in Jesus. God’s blessings!

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  34. I thank God daily and my parents often for forcing my sorry sinful self to church every Sunday Morning and Night, Wednesday Evening, and every other time our Church was open for life learning when I was a child. The fact of the matter is parents have only a brief period of time to instill the Godly values that last an eternity and beyond. Sure, children may find them on their own later, but the odds and reality of this journey are overwhelmingly against them and it. Children have a lifetime ahead of them to “go their own way,” but only the twinkle of an eye to be “shown the right way.” One of the things I can still look back on with fond memories is how most anytime I did something wrong and my Dad (that’s right a capital “D”) would say, “well you didn’t learn that from me or in my house.” That was true for both my Earthly and Heavenly Father’s houses. I have NEVER been given bad advice from or regretted time spent with either. Thank God for one for introducing me to the other. It takes princely parents to introduce one to the King. Do not abdicate your responsibilities.

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  36. I was raised in a house of anger and contention. We were forced to go to church (actually we went willingly because we were taught every moment that it was the only way). We were taught the gospel but the anger, volatility and emotional abuse that went along with it did not reflect what was being taught. I am in my 30s and to this day I only go out of guilt and fear. Teaching the gospel is less important than teaching kindness, and without kindness being taught the gospel cannot be taught properly.

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    1. That was your parents fault not the gospel’s. I would also wager that if you are in your 30’s and still only attending church out of guilt and fear, you need to start listening and understanding the gospel because there is very little of either in it. If guilt and fear is what your Church is teaching, find another one quickly.

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  37. It’s funny that I came across this blog entry as I was just thinking about this. I am a mom of two little boys and every 5th Sunday is Youth Sunday at our church. In the past, I typically saw this as a day off. I was laying in bed Sunday morning feeling tired and thinking, I was going to let my boys sleep in and take the day off from church. But then I lay thinking that I wouldn’t allow this during a week day so why on Youth Sunday. I guess I was thinking from a selfish perspective and that I wouldn’t get anything out of the service because it was centered around the youth. I felt so convicted. The whole point of going on Youth Sunday was not only to be in the house of the Lord but to take my boys so that they can see others praising God just like them. Although we were a few minutes late, I was so glad that we went. The service not only blessed me, but I could tell they enjoyed it also. Thanks for your post!

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  38. I have taken my kids to church almost every Sunday. The Sundays that I didn’t were usually spent as a family in traveling or a positive family activity I also think that it is important to try to have a profound spiritual experience in your childs youth this is usually in everyday life. Pointing out everyday miracles to our children my kids would get up and go to church without me due to working etc. They continue to this day ages 20 to 29 . if we teach our kids about free will or agency we have to let them make their own decisions then learn from their decision good or bad. Sometimes listening is more important than preaching

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  39. My daughter is 9 and by all accounts, doesn’t really believe in God. That’s OK. Because in our house the rule is simple: You don’t have to believe in God (and we’re not going to make you), but you DO have to go to church. Period. Going to church is what we do as a family (and all the things that go with it). Believing in God is something you either come to on your own, or you don’t. As parents, we can model that, but ultimately a person has to make their own decision. But whether or not we all go to church is my domain as a parent. So far it seems to work. It respects the privacy of her inner life, but acknowledges that we’re in charge of everything else.

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  40. You are using one consequence to combat a different issue. Are you talking about “outside forces” or the will of an autonomous being? Are you talking about children that are 5 or children that are 15? Is the question here your child earnestly communicating the bedrock of their own beliefs and doubts? Or is that child just more comfortable in their PJs and don’t feel like leaving the house. This is so much more complicated than the simple and fuzzy position you are promoting. Authoritarian parenting destroys lives and can repel children from all the things that parent attempted to teach them.

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    1. Thanks for the comments JS…yes it is a much more complicated issue…this is written for parents who are abdicating their responsibility as parents to teach their children the faith…as I mentioned in the article itself this is not about simply forcing your kids to go to church, but about teaching them why church (the gathering of believers together) is so important to God. I wouldn’t call that authoritarian parenting I would just call that parenting. And I would counter that hands off parenting does far more damage.

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  41. Well some parents might think neglecting some of their duties is to the happiness of their child while in the long run, they are probably destroying the child and in this case; destroying the life of the child eternally. Good write up and tips necessary for parents. 🙂

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  42. Last night I had some studying to do and my little one was having issues her math homework. So I suggested that we might have to miss bible study. My 19 year old (who missed church on Sunday because she was sick) said: I missed Sunday so I really would like to go tonight. So of course we went…not every 19 year old wants to go to bible study. Oh and I only missed 2 on my test!

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