Bringing Kids Back to Church after COVID-19
In raising kids, one thing is for sure. You’re always playing the long game. And that is particularly true as Christ-following parents chart the spiritual course for their children to love and honor God. So, with this reality, how do we fit this into bringing kids back to church after COVID-19?
We have just walked through one of the most challenging times, in our lifetimes, in navigating Covid-19 and all of its implications. Economies all over the world have shut down and are attempting to reopen. Businesses everywhere have faced strains like never before.
The Church has not been exempt from this shut down. Churches were forced to either start or accelerate their much needed online presence. As I’ve watched countless churches do just that, I’ve seen the Lord do amazing work in advancing the local church far beyond what they ever thought possible.
Now, churches are reopening live church services. Pastors are excited about the prospects of people coming back to church. But are the people in the church, in particular parents, as excited to get back?
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I had lunch with a church board member last month and found his assessment of how the church will look moving forward fascinating. This 50-something church leader had been in the church his whole life. This is the kind of guy every pastor dreams of having as part of their leadership team.
However, I was almost shocked when he began to tell me what he and his wife would enjoy doing going forward. Certainly, this guy will be front and center when the doors open, right? Maybe not. He’ll certainly be a team player, but he articulated to us what may be reality-thinking for lots of very good and committed church folks in the future.
He said he’d like to just keep doing church online. He can get up on Sunday morning on his schedule, grab his cup of coffee and maybe breakfast and tune into church on his schedule. And when asked about the importance of community in his life, he said that when he and his wife want to be “with” people, he’ll just invite some folks over, and they’ll do life together watching church together.
When a person or couple have raised their kids, it’s not hard to see how this seems workable. However, I am hearing of parents with children at home, talking of doing church for their family in this way. When playing the long-game of raising kids, there are some ramifications and potential unintended consequences of approaching church in this way that pastors need to help parents navigate.
Guidance for Parents
Pastor, we recommend you consider giving this kind of guidance to the moms and dads who are raising the great kids at your church. This will help them move beyond the moment of now, into the long-game.
It is important for parents to show their children what is important to them. Scripture tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as some are in the habit of doing (Hebrews 10:25). Doing church online as an alternative to doing church in person may be modeling a bad habit. While the parents’ faith may be completely solid and they may feel like they can do church online forever, in the few short years that children are under Mom & Dad’s roof, the model is being formed.
Children, more often than not, start their adult life doing what Mom & Dad did in life. If parents go to church all the time, then grown children of those parents will tend to go to church all the time. If parents don’t, then children when they are grown tend not to, as well. If parents think church is important, then they need to show it in their life and actions.
Parents set priorities
Parents set the priorities for the home. If the parents fill the home with sports equipment, then that tells the children sports are important. If music, then music. If education, then education. If church, then church. To be in the community of other parents and children is important to the spiritual formation of the child. Parents that prioritize that formation see children grow in their faith in their teen years and into adulthood. Coach parents into establishing right priorities by physically being in church, in community with other believers.
Our culture has become kid-centric, probably to a fault. While we want to be sensitive to the needs of our children, it is the role and responsibility of parents to guide their children to being responsible citizens and more importantly to becoming the Christ-followers all of us want them to be. Children don’t get there accidently.
As a part of this guidance, parents must guide children to the friends they want for those children. Those closest friends for a Christ-following child are at church, are part of the local Body of Christ. They are found in community. Parents can’t build friendships for their children if they’re not there, not present. Being present in church is critical to guiding children through life and faith.
Parents are not just under the same roof as their kids. They are the leaders in the home, as ordained by God. Train (Lead) your children into the ways of the Lord and when they are old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6 paraphrased).
While we love the term, “one big happy family,” in order to have that family, parents must lead. Parents do not lead children by consensus. Parents are the leaders. Walk in front of your children. Show them “the way” and a big part of “the way” is to be present in the community of other believers, your local church.
Want the kids at church to have an incredible experience every single week? Check out the Kids Ministry Atmosphere Checklist: 11 easy steps you can take for ALL kids to WANT to come back week after week after week.
Journey of Generational Faith
Bruce Wilkinson has written that the journey of generational faith can look like this.
- The first generation experiences faith (the best).
- To the second generation, faith is an inheritance (a good thing).
- To the third generation, faith is a convenience (a dangerous place).
- And to the fourth generation, faith becomes a nuisance (disastrous).
All pastors and all parents want the children in their churches to be first generation Christ-followers, to experience faith. As pastors we need to pastor parents to this end.
When parents model, set priorities, guide and lead, the stage is set for children to grow up to truly experience faith. These children will have a tremendous appreciation for the church.
While there certainly are no guarantees in the journey of life, if pastors will teach their church families how to parent their children in the understanding of the Body of Christ, community and the local church, they will see good things come from the children of those families.
When pastors teach, coach and pastor the good parents in their church, they watch the children of those parents grow up to be solid in the faith. The Body of Christ that meets in the local church is there for a reason. The building of community is critical to that Body in advancing the mission and vision of the church.
We hope you’ve found this helpful as you help the parents in your church be all they need to be in raising their children to place high-value on your local church and the need to ultimately be present with other believers, including other children.
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