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Should You Force Your Kids to Go to Church?

Should You Force Your Kids to Go to Church?

Force is such a strong word, isn’t it? When I think of force, in the Biblical sense, I automatically think of Samson, who stood between two pillars and pushed an entire building down!

In the parenting sense, of course, we’d much rather build our kids up than tear them down. That’s why I’d rather refer to forcing our kids to do something, as lovingly requiring them to do things that are best for them.

And that includes going to church.

Think about it this way: We require our kids to go to school so they can learn and expand their knowledge. We require them to brush their teeth so they won’t get cavities. We require them to be respectful in hopes they will grow up to be respectable members of society.

So, why wouldn’t we require them to go to church?

No matter what our kids’ ages or stages, it’s important for them to attend church with the family. Here are 4 reasons why:

1. The Word of God Will Not Return Void in Our Kids’ Lives

If we truly believe the Word of God is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword…discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” why wouldn’t we give our kids the opportunity to hear it as often as possible? (see Hebrews 4:12)

This is the number one reason why we should require our kids to go to church. If our ultimate hope is that our kids will receive Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives, yet we allow them to miss opportunities to hear the Gospel, we may actually be preventing them from receiving Christ.

Yes, our kids can receive Jesus outside of church. It may happen at home, at camp, or at a friend’s house. But it might also happen during a church service.

We are reminded, in Isaiah 55:11, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

God’s Word will accomplish what He sets it out to accomplish. And exposing our children to the life-giving Word is one of the best things we can do for them. Take your kids to church and let the Word of God speak!

I will worship toward Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name. Psalm 138:2

On the flip-side: If you’re worried that your child will only associate the Bible with going to church, let them know that the Word of God stands alone. They can enjoy the Scriptures through personal devotions, podcasts, and Bible apps. Here are a few  top Bible reading apps for teens.

2. It Is Our Hope that Our Kids Will Stay in Church

According to this LifeWay research article, as teenagers reach their late teen years, even those with a history of regular church attendance are pulled away as they get increased independence, a driver’s license, or a job.

My question is, why contribute to the “falling away,” by allowing our teens to skip out? Yes, they will eventually have to decide for themselves whether or not they’ll continue to go, but I believe it’s crucial for parents to maintain church-going as a standard, not an option.

When our teens started looking for jobs, we encouraged them to tell the employer, right up front, that they would need Sunday’s off. Even though there was a risk they wouldn’t get the job, we felt it best for our teens to still be able to attend church with the family.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

On the flip-side: There’s no guarantee that making your kids attend church will keep them in church. If your teenager works on Sundays, it’s definitely not a deal breaker! Consider finding other ways to worship, including home Bible studies, Christian concerts, and mid-week services. Include your kids in deciding when and how to worship!

young boys with backpacks

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/fridofranz

3. It Is Good for Our Kids to Fellowship with Other Believers

Even if your child is struggling with unbelief, being around other Christian families can be just the example they need. You never know who will make a difference in their life, or who will plant seeds of faith. It might be a friend, a youth leader, or pastor who says something that “sticks.”

No matter what, it’s healthy for our kids to be around other believers and see the Christian faith being lived out. Just as we need the fellowship of other believers, our kids need it as well. Encourage active participation in services, events, and community outreaches. Meeting together, in the name of Jesus, is an essential part of a healthy church, and healthy kids.

And let us not give up meeting together. Some are in the habit of doing this. Instead, let us encourage one another with words of hope. Let us do this even more as you see Christ’s return approaching. Hebrews 10:25

On the flip-side: Keep in mind, the earliest churches were simply groups of fellow Christians meeting together for a meal, fellowship, and teaching of the Word. Your kids might benefit even more from these types of “church” meetings. It doesn’t always have to be that you go to a church building. Schedule a once-a-month gathering in your home, and get your kids involved in the planning. This may end up being the best church experience they’ll have!

4. Church Provides Connectedness for Our Kids

When our kids question the importance of going to church, we can offer an explanation similar to this Crosswalk Devotional entitled, Take Your Child to Church. In it, the author says, “Life isn't lived in isolation. A church provides a bigger family, a group of people to care about and who care for you.”

In essence, church provides a connectedness that other groups cannot. Sport’s teams and after-school clubs are educational and fun, but they don’t provide the deeper heart-connections that the church provides.

Not only do we want our kids to connect with the family of God, we want them to connect with Jesus, Himself! Here are are few inspiring verses about connectedness within the body of Christ:

He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. Acts 10:2

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:4-5

The whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped…  makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:16

Encourage your kids to connect, by requiring them to go to church. Going to church doesn’t save our kids, but it prioritizes worship of the Living God. It provides opportunities to hear the Bible. And, it instills in them a love for the body of believers.

On the flip-side: There are many ways to connect with the body of believers. In fact, I encourage having fun with other Christians, outside of worship and Bible study. Consider going on a group hike, bowling, or out for ice cream. It’s these interactions that may have the biggest impact on your child’s love for the church. Here are 52 fellowship activities to choose from.

Ultimately, whether or not you lovingly require your kids to attend church, you can build them up in the faith by being a good example, providing Christian fellowship, and sharing the Word of God. I’ve heard it said that worship happens in many ways, not only within the four walls of the church building. We can connect with God everyday, not only on Sundays. And that’s something wonderful we can teach our kids.

Jennifer Waddle considers herself a Kansas girl, married to a Colorado hunk, with a heart to encourage women everywhere. She is the author of several books, including Prayer WORRIER: Turning Every Worry into Powerful Prayer, and is a regular contributor for LifeWay, Crosswalk, Abide, and Christians Care International. Jennifer’s online ministry is where you can find her books and sign up for her weekly post, Discouragement Doesn’t Win. She resides with her family near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains—her favorite place on earth.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Kadirdemir