“Dale Hudson has some very good thoughts about families and church attendance. I think he is right.”
There is a trend happening in churches. Families are attending church less frequently. In most cases, families that used to attend twice a month are now attending once a month. Families that used to come once a month are now only showing up at Christmas and Easter.
There are many reasons why this is happening. Here are a few key ones…
Sports. Kids are more often involved in sports leagues and traveling teams. Nothing wrong with sports. I played sports when I was in elementary and high school. But not on Sunday. On Sunday, nothing trumped being in church.
Many parents today do not share that same value. Anytime there is a sports event on Sunday…church gets left out of the picture.
Busyness. Families are very, very busy. This means they have a smaller margin for activities. In many cases, the small margin they have is used for kids’ activities such as dance, sports, karate classes and on and on we could go.
Whereas Sunday used to be looked at as a day to focus on worshiping God, today it is the overflow day where families catch up with things they couldn’t get to during the weekdays.
Another factor with being so busy, is being tired. But Sunday, parents are exhausted from their busy week and just want to rest. They look at what it will take to get the kids up, get everyone dressed and then drive to the church and they decide to skip.
Online. Online church services are such a great way to spread the Gospel and grow people in their faith. But it can also be an outlet for families who don’t feel like going to church in person on Sunday.
“Let’s just watch online today” has become a valid option for families.
Priorities. Church has been removed as the top priority on Sunday. Families look at church as just another option and if the other options aren’t appealing on a Sunday, then they will go to church.
Family situations. Many children have parents who are divorced. Many time, this means they can only attend church when they are with one of the parents. This translates to attending church every other week.
I believe that when families skip church they are entering a slippery slope.
They are sending a message to their children that church is not important.
They are sending a message to their children that says church is just another option on Sunday and participation is optional.
They are sending a message to their children that Jesus is not worth worshiping on Sunday.
They are sending a message to their children that Jesus is a part of our life, but not the center of our life.
They are sending a message that says learning God’s Word is not a priority.
They are raising children who will be Biblically illiterate.
They are raising children who will have a very shallow faith that cannot stand under pressure.
So what can we do?
How can we help parents bring their children to church faithfully?
How can we help parents invest in their children during the week?
How can we encourage parents to make Jesus the center of their schedule?
Speak into their life early on. You may or may not be able to change the priorities of parents who have elementary kids. But you can speak into the lives of young parents who have nursery and preschool children. You can plant spiritual truth into their life through a Parent & Child Dedication class, a parenting class, social media posts, YouTube videos and more. Here’s a great resource for Parent & Child Dedication class that has seen great fruit among parents.
Young parents are looking for guidance, insight and resources for this new role they find themselves in. Influence them early on and you can help them make Sunday a priority.
Make church irresistible for kids. Pester Power is a real influence on parents. When a kid decides he or she wants to go somewhere or do something, they will pester their parents until they get what they want.
I made the mistake one time of not getting batteries ahead of time for a gift I bought for my son at Christmas. He was about 5 years old at the time. When he found out we needed batteries, he begin asking me over and over and over and over, when we would get the batteries. He kept pestering me until I went and found a store that was open on Christmas day and bought him some batteries.
If you will make church the place to be on Sunday mornings, kids will drag their parents with them to church. Remember, “a child shall lead them.”
Show parents how important it is to make Jesus the center of their life.
Jesus doesn’t just want to rent a room in our life. He wants to move in and do a total makeover.
The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 that if we will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
What does that look like when it comes to attending church? It means Sunday morning at church is not something we do if there’s nothing else on the schedule. Rather, it’s at the top of the list. No questions asked. Sunday morning belongs to God and His house.
Encourage parents to walk the talk. We must help them remember that…
“Our kids may not always do what we say, but they never fail to emulate what we do.”
We must realize that if we make church a second or third option on Sunday, our kids are going to grow up rarely or never attending church.
When we don’t model this, we are placing the next generation on a slippery slope. Forsaking God’s house when we are commanded to “not forsake the assembling of ourselves together” is sending a message to the next generation that coming together for worship is not necessary to have a growing, strong relationship with Jesus.
Let’s leave them a legacy of loving God, putting Him first, walking with Jesus and making church a top priority.