Apr 242014 1 Response

Don’t Just Hope Your Kid Loves Jesus, Teach Them To

When it comes to parenting, I hope about some things, prefer other things, but am dogmatic about a few things.

There are some things which I hope my children grow to love.  My hope is strong enough that it influences my actions. I’m not dogmatic about my beliefs, but my kids know my thoughts. My wife is an Oklahoma fan while I love Arkansas. I hope my children reject their mother’s team for mine. Yet I love my wife despite the error of her ways, so if they choose a way different than me I can easily accept it.

There are some things which I would prefer for my children to love. I prefer one thing over another, but it’s not enough to even let them realize my desires. It would be fun if one or both of my children picked up my favorite sport, but there is no need for them to feel any obligation to do so. I keep my preferences quiet and will let them find what they desire.

There are some things which I desperately desire for my children to love. To me, these issues are of such importance I must be dogmatic. I make it clear of what is important. I teach them and train them on these issues. While they are under my supervision and living off my dollar, they will value certain things. If they grow to reject them as adults, that will be their choice. My love for them will not change even though I will feel disappointed for them and possibly in them.

In which of these three categories does the church fall?

Notice I didn’t ask in which category does God fall? To me, that is obvious. While some would disagree and would promote that parents should be neutral concerning God, I believe that is ludicrous. Telling me to allow my child to find out about God on their own is the equivalent of telling me to allow them to discover the danger of walking into a busy street on their own. I teach them about the important things in life, I don’t just hope they figure them out.

So it is with God and, for me, so it is with the church.

For the past 10 years, the church I have pastored has exploited a parenting trend. We have found that many parents attend the church of their child’s choosing. Since we believe children’s ministry is of the utmost importance and since many parents allow the children to dictate where to attend church, we have long known that if we could get a family to visit just one Sunday, the children would have such a great time that the family would come back the next Sunday.

It’s smart church-work, but it’s not necessarily good parenting.

Children are in no position to dictate where a family goes to church in the same way that they are not in any position to determine what a family eats for dinner every night. They deserve a say, but they should not make the decision.

The issue is too important; too much is at stake for a child to determine such an issue.

For me, the church is of such importance that I must teach my child to love her, and I will be very disappointed if my children fail to do so.

There is a difference between God and the church. It’s important to distinguish the two. Yet the New Testament makes it so clear that God loves the church and anyone who is a follower Jesus should associate with a local body of believers that I cannot hope or simply desire that my children will learn to love her.

I must teach them. I must model participation and service to them. I must do everything in my power to make wise decisions in order to create a climate in which they will grow to love that which God loves—namely, his church.

Far too many parents relinquish their responsibility of leading their children in faith and simply submit to whatever the child desires in the moment. It is possible a child raised in this atmosphere will grow in faith, but they will do so in spite of the parent not because of them.

It is a parent’s job to allow a child experience in making decisions. With each year that passes, a child should have more influence and freedom to make choices. But church is not one of the first freedoms they should experience; it should be one of the last.

I hope my kids love Arkansas. I would like for them to love golf. But it is my calling in life to give them every opportunity to know Jesus and to follow him. This requires participation in and service to the local church. They can tell me what they think, but I will tell them where we will go and which church family will be ours.

One Response to Don’t Just Hope Your Kid Loves Jesus, Teach Them To

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Please enter your name, email and a comment.