Parents, do we want our kids to love church? How do we get them to do that?
There is a single factor that will most determine whether our kids love church. The good news is it is obvious, simple, completely in our control and it cannot be faked. The bad news is it cannot be faked and it is completely up to us.
What is it? Us. All of us grown up folks. How their parents and the adults that surround them feel about church will greatly impact how children see God’s people.
How do we feel about the church? How do we treat God’s people?
Kids are much smarter and observant than we give them credit for. They miss nothing. It has been said that the vast majority of learning kids do from their parents is non-verbal. More is caught than taught is the old saying.
Little eyes watch us in whatever we do. Little ears listen to us whatever we say.
Have we ever been cut off in traffic and spewed anger out forgetting there was a two-year-old in the car seat? Yeah, me neither. What happens?
We wait a couple of minutes hoping that they did not notice. Our hopes are dashed when we hear a little voice sweetly singing to themselves in the backseat – doopid idiot, doopid idiot. Or even worse, when they get home and tell the spouse, guess what I heard today.
God is wonderfully sanctifying, isn’t He? There is nothing worse than seeing our ugliness lived out in the ones we love the most.
The same principle applies with how we treat Jesus’ Bride. It is just slower acting.
If our little ones see us filled with joy about spending time with God’s people, they get a very clear message from us. If they see us looking forward to Bible study or serving the church as a privilege, they receive an absolutely clear teaching that we could not convey just verbally. If we love the people Jesus died for well, no matter how flawed they are, the little eyes don’t miss it.
If we only go out of habit and obligation, what do we think our kids are going to pick up from that? It is guaranteed they will see it, they know us better than we think.
If we despise God’s people and talk badly about them as soon as we are out of the church building, should we expect our kids to even want to attend church?
Teaching children to love church is an active process of discipleship and love. It lasts throughout their lives until they are out of homes. They will not pick up church just from osmosis. We have to both model and teach verbally.
But we can never teach our children how to love people we ourselves view as a burden. If we don’t have love for God’s people we cannot pass it on to our children.
Think about it. If more is caught than taught, what are we sending out there for our kids to pick up on?