Tuesday, March 16, 2010

To make them or not to make them... that is the question...

I had a young married lady (without children) ask me the other day what my opinion is on "making" a child go to church. Should you or shouldn't you?

Oh boy. Don't get me started. Too late. I'm already started.

The verdict: Make them.

But before you get riled up at me, hear me out. Church doesn't equal salvation. I get that. It doesn't guarantee that your child will forever be spared from the wiles of teenage lust and impulsiveness.

But it certainly ups the odds.

Studies have shown that church attendance increases life expectancy by at least 8 years.
It drastically reduces the risk of teen suicide. By 70% in fact.
It actually increases their overall GPA in high school.
And here's a shocker... kids who attend church are more likely to wear their seat belts than their non-churched friends.

Could it be because kids who grow up in church grow up know that they are valued? Could it be that they hear week after week that their worth is found in God's love for them, and not in the world's ways?

I think so.

But for crying out loud, find a GOOD church. (Someone stop me.) Don't take your kids to the most boring, irrelevant church in the world and expect them to jump out of bed with anticipation on Sunday mornings. Find a place that's exciting, filled with younger people, and get them there as much as is humanly possible.

Still wonder if it's right to "make" a child go to church? Let me give you this food for thought.

Abi HATED brushing her teeth until just last year. I'm talking about full on weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth hating it. She'd gag. She'd cry. She'd lose her breath.

But we still made her do it. Why? We know the long term benefits, of course. So, now we have a child who has adopted tooth brushing as part of her lifestyle.

Let me tell you. I am WAY more concerned about her spiritual and emotional health than her dental hygiene. Does church hold magical powers to help us avoid all of life's problems? No. But what it does hold are relationships, purpose, community, answers, and hope.

So, as with school, work, chores, and other repetitive "tasks" that kids complain about, church shouldn't be an option. Kids don't know what's best for them! That's OUR job.

The payoff will be huge in the end.


  1. As youth pastors, we occasionally have parents ground their kids from a youth (church) activity for something like not doing their homework. I'm like "What?! Are you kidding me? Ground them from broccoli or something, not church!" I mean it's awesome that the child loves church so much that that is such a threat, but heavens that gets me going.

  2. There was a spell when Tyler was in middle school that we didn't make him go. Worst time in his life. One day I was like, "You're going...brooding or not." After he got done being hateful, he found a true connection! So do what Jill says!

  3. as a preachers kids I went to church three times a week until I left home. I love that it was never questioned and it became part of me. I think that as long as kids are under our roof we make the rules. That simple. But I also agree that church should be somewhere they should want to go, and there certainly are good choices out there.

  4. Well put, my Jill. Common sense writing! Tell it like it is. I love it.

    Loved your "sweet" post on why you love being Abi's mom. You keep speaking in all of your posts what many, many parents think is right and good; yet, YOU know how to say it in writing. All of your posts are clearing up questions in the minds of many.(Just as when you dad speaks about the GRACE of God, we say to ourselves, "That's what I really thought all the time, but I couldn't put it in words.") I love you.