In Why Your Kids Need a Church Family (Part 1), I shared about the importance of spiritual authorities, corporate worship, and a Christian community. Here are three more reasons why your kids need a church family.
Why do you take your children to church services? For many adults, the second most important reason is so that their children will have a moral foundation.1 However, in addition to the essential need for sound Bible teaching, there are a few other valuable motivations for your kids to be part of a local church family.
1. Your kids need healthy diversity.
Gray areas in the Church
There is a temptation to want our children to only be around families that are just like ours, but, when searching for a church family, beware of the temptation to prioritize superficial standards above genuine love for Jesus and key Bible doctrines. Christian families will come to different conclusions about how to apply God’s Word in different areas of life and that is to be expected.
The Bible gives clear directives for many areas, but there are also “gray areas” that families will view differently.2 Be willing to discuss with your kids the Biblical principles you’ve used to develop your family’s standards and have the humility and courage to make changes if you realize those standards lack a solid foundation.
The Church is multicultural
With so much damaging misinformation about diversity in our culture today, it is essential that we teach our kids about healthy diversity within the context of a Biblical church family. We need to remind our kids that Jesus died for all the nations of the world (1 Jn. 2:2) and that we are all made in God’s image and equal before God (Gen. 1:27). The Apostle John describes the family of God in Revelation 7:9 as “…a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…”
Ideally, our churches should be melting pots of different cultures, but if your community is fairly homogeneous, try to take your kids to visit a local international church or on a mission trip outside the country. The opportunities I had beginning as a teenager to serve and worship with Christians in Israel, Taiwan, Ghana, and Dominican Republic have broadened my perspective and deeply impacted me.
2. Your kids need loving accountability.
God has created us all to need each other. If you are looking for a church with a movie theater experience where you can watch the show and then slip out during the credits, you’re missing one of God’s primary purposes for church gatherings.
In Hebrews 10 the author warns Christians against the habit of neglecting to meet together. Two of the primary purposes he gives for those meetings are to “encourage one another” and “stir up one another to love and good works.” (Heb. 10:24-25) There is nothing passive about the idea of stirring up one another.3 You have an active responsibility to your brothers and sisters in Christ when you meet to worship and fellowship.
Christians need a Tonto
I grew up watching old Lone Ranger TV episodes filled with daring adventures from the American Old West. In the very first episode, the former Texas Ranger is almost killed during an ambush and a Native American named Tonto comes along and nurses him back to health. Despite his title, the Lone Ranger never actually fights against evil and injustice all by himself; his faithful companion is always by his side and they rescue each other from danger on a regular basis. Christianity is not for lone rangers; every Christian needs a Tonto.
When you or your children struggle with sin or are tempted to walk away from the Lord, you need to have friends who will boldly confront you and your family about sin like Nathan did to King David (2 Sam. 12:7) or Paul to Peter (Gal. 2:14). Choose a church where you can develop relationships with Christian brothers and sisters who will snatch you out of the fire (Jude 22-23). The members of the body of Christ are called to restore each other when caught up in sin, bear each other’s burdens, confess sins to one another and pray for one another (Gal. 6:1-2; Ja. 5:16).
Make your church your “village”
Your kids need the loving accountability that God designed to take place both inside your home and local church family. In recent years I have approached a few godly adult mentors in our church family and have given them permission to lovingly (and verbally) correct my kids when they see them acting sinfully. If it takes a village to raise a child, then make your church the “village.”
3. Your kids need ministry opportunities.
Your children don’t need to be adults to be able to serve. In fact, if they have been born again, even at a young age, the Spirit of God has given them a “gift” that they are intended to use to strengthen, encourage, and serve their church family. 1 Peter 4:10–11 says, “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”
Our children will likely be the recipients of much teaching and service through Sunday School and other kids church programs, but they should also learn to serve their church family. Ask your church leadership if your children can help serve in the children’s ministry somehow (a key activity that helped prepare me for pastoral ministry was helping my mom in children’s church).
Talk with your daughter about helping a young mom in your church with house cleaning or babysitting. Encourage your son to volunteer to do yard work for an elderly couple. Help your young children think of who might appreciate a card or coloring page in the mail. Consider who might be blessed by your children playing their instrument. But, instead of simply volunteering your children to serve others, teach them what God’s Word says about serving, be an example of sacrificial service yourself, talk and pray with them about ministry opportunities and then encourage and equip them to serve others for the glory of God.
It is important for our kids to understand that God has designed the church as a body which has many members and each one of those members—regardless of how young or insignificant they might seem—is essential for “building up the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12).4
As you regularly communicate to your children the purpose and value of church family, they will hopefully be able to see beyond just trying to get to church on time or their hungry stomachs after the service is over. Church is an opportunity for all of us—kids included—to love and serve others who are different but united in Christ.
A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that for 69% of U.S. adults who attend a religious service at least once or twice a month, they go because it is very important that their kids have a moral foundation. ↩︎
For more study on relating to those with a different conscience position, I recommend reading Conscience: What it is, How to Train it, and Loving Those who Differ by Andrew Naselli and J.D. Crowley. ↩︎
The Greek word for “stir up”(παροξυσμός) is like our English word, “provocation” which is often used in a negative sense. However, in this verse it refers to strongly provoking or stimulating someone else to do good. The reality is, when it comes to our spiritual walk, many times we need a firm push instead of a gentle nudge from our Christian friends. ↩︎
It is also valuable for our children to be involved in evangelistic community opportunities, but my emphasis in this article is on the role of the church. ↩︎