When you take your children to church, they’ll listen to the sermon. (Yes, even the little ones.) They will hear the Word of God being preached. Even when it doesn’t look like it, even when they fidget and squirm. But just wait, because after you take your children to church, you’ll take them home again. You’ll be sitting around the dinner table discussing life together, and they’ll bring up the sermon. And you will realize they were listening, and on their level, they understood.
When you take your children to church, you’ll be able to make theological connections and fill in missing pieces. Phrases and stories that you may know and understand but that you hadn’t gotten around to explaining, you’ll have the opportunity to talk about. Because they’ll whisper to you during the service, asking questions about sermon. They’ll bring up all sorts of topics you might not have addressed on your own. And you’ll have the opportunity not to shush them in the moment, but to answer their questions in brief and then dive deeply into them later.
When you take your children to church, they’ll pay attention to the songs you sing. They’ll ask you about the song lyrics they don’t understand, and right then and there, you can answer with the biblical truth for why we sing that part. And when they encounter God in worship, they’ll encounter their humanity too. The congregational singing will stir emotions in them that they may not entirely understand, emotions that need comforting, emotions that need talking through. And you’ll be able to take them into your arms and meet them in their need.
When you take your children to church, they’ll learn what it means to live in community. They’ll see people repenting through tears. They’ll see people on their knees, begging God for healing. They’ll see what happens when God touches someone’s heart, and they’ll see that it looks different from person to person. They’ll watch the different ways people worship, and they’ll be able to explore different ways of expressing their own devotion.
When you take your children to church, you’ll practice being patient with their impatience. You’ll practice not being embarrassed by their questions and their tears and their excitement. You’ll remember that you have a greater purpose than looking perfect or put together on Sunday morning: to engage your children with God and His people.
When you take your children to church, you’re committing to spiritual growth as a family. Of course church is not the only place spiritual growth is supposed to happen. It’s supposed to happen when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. But it’s also supposed to happen in church. As parents we are only one or two people in our children’s lives. We are key people, but we are few. We need others to walk with us in bringing our children up in the faith. And that is what happens when we take our children to church.
*Children’s church is another wonderful option for the spiritual instruction of our children. In fact it’s often a life-saver for parents of young children. We have just found over the past 3 years that doing church together as a family has enhanced our family life and our spiritual growth. It goes without saying here that sometimes keeping your children in church can be hard. It can be wearying. It is not picture perfect, and it can interfere with your own communion with God from time to time. All that said, attending church as a family unit has been worth it for us.