If you’re in a faithful gospel-preaching church and you have children, wouldn’t you want your children to love that church and stay with it? I’ve come up with a list of ways to help Christian parents help their children do that.
I should say at the outset that I share these first of all because, if your church is faithful, the gospel is at stake. It’s vitally important for our children to stay in a church where the gospel of Christ is proclaimed in Word and sacrament. Children get discipled for Christ in such a church. We can never take this for granted. Second, I’m writing this to remind myself of how important it is to disciple my own children. I should also say that there’s never any guarantee your children will remain with the church, or that they’ll be responsive to the gospel promises. You can do everything right, but the Holy Spirit must regenerate the heart, also the hearts of our children. It’s all grace. But, from a human perspective, if you do one, some or all of these ten things, you certainly improve the odds your children will stay and love their gospel-focussed church.
Be positive about the church and your relationship to it. Make sure your children hear and see your positive attitude. Remember to pray regularly for the church and for the pastors, elders, and deacons.
Regularly attend worship services. Communicate to your children that you need the ministry of the Word and sacraments and they need it too. There’s always room for growth. God’s call to worship applies to your family just as it does to everyone else.
Be committed to your local church. Have your children involved as much as possible in the activities of your local church.
Make church attendance mandatory for everyone in your home. If they don’t feel like going to church, they should be going anyway (unless they’re sick, of course). There are some things we might not feel like doing (like going to the dentist), but they’re good for us and our parents forced us to because they loved us. Love your children the same way.
Similarly, make catechism attendance mandatory. If they don’t feel like going, again you have to insist. Support the efforts of your pastor to catechize your children. Check to make sure they’re memorizing the catechism, check to see if they’re doing their homework, and make sure they’re prepared for class.
Sing at home what you sing in the church’s public worship. Communicate to your children that you actually appreciate the Psalms and hymns of the church. You want them to embrace these songs and value them. Teach your children the meaning of what they sing.
As much as possible, live close enough to the church so that you can be meaningfully involved in the life of the church. If you live further out, look for and take opportunities to move closer.
Teach your children about the importance of giving your first fruits to the Lord. Speak to your children about financial contributions to the church. Be sure to set them an example by faithfully giving yourself. Be a cheerful giver!
Send them to the Christian school the other children from the congregation attend. This will help them to develop connections and friendships with peers in the church community.
Give helpful guidance with regards to their friends and potential marriage partners. Encourage them to have believing friends and to find marriage partners who love the Lord, but also love his church.
In short, do everything you can to communicate that the church isn’t some human organization or a club where you can come and go as you please. Make it clear that the church is your spiritual mother (Gal. 4:26), the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), the bride for which Christ died and which he loves (Eph. 5:25), and the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).