In our culture, there used to be a day when Sunday was set aside as the Lord's day. Games and other activities that pulled on families were scheduled on Saturday, but not on Sunday.
I'm all for sports and other activities that provide families with opportunities to spend time together. I played Little League and football growing up. But the games were held on a weekday or Saturday...not on Sunday. Sunday was reserved for attending church.
Parents are also busier than ever with their work and other activities. In many cases, they may have to work on Saturday and when Sunday rolls around, they are exhausted and may choose to sleep in, do a family outing or watch online.
You can also see this reflected in families' attendance patterns. Past expectations were to be in church 4 Sundays each month or at least 3 out of 4 Sundays. Now the average family is in church 2 out of 4 weeks or even 1 out of 4 weeks.
Where is this taking us? The truth is, if a child only gets 25% to 50% of the lessons at church, they are going to have a very shallow faith foundation. I know they are supposed to be discipled at home first and foremost, but I believe the same attendance patterns for parents, leaves them ill-equipped to disciple their children.
You can't pass on what you don't have yourself. It's hard to make the case for weekly attendance at church when you set a different example for your children.
I am reminded of this quote...
"I can't hear what you are saying, because your actions are speaking so loudly."
As a parent, it's hard to make the case for faithful church attendance, when your actions are saying otherwise.
We can be sure...kids are watching...they are picking up on what our priorities are...they are realizing what is important to us.
If you're reading this as a children's ministry leader and feel discouraged...don't. We have a great opportunity to make a difference in families' lives in these areas.
The starting point is to invest in and equip parents, so they can recognize what is really important when it comes to raising children.
Sports are important. Academics are important. Social interaction is important. Financial security is important.
But nothing is more important than putting God in first place in your family. When that happens, Sunday becomes a core part of who you are as a Christ-follower. There is no question about attending church when Sunday rolls around. It's who we are....part of the family of God. It's what we do...honor God by meeting with other believers to worship Him.
I often quote the saying, "In the race to a child's heart, the first one there wins."
It's a great truth...but I think we should add another quote.
"In the race to a parent's heart, the first one there wins."
If we can effectively connect and disciple parents in their early days of parenting, we can help them establish a spiritual foundation for their kids and family.
One important time you can seize to do this is when families have a newborn. You can get there first and pour into them, as they prepare to dedicate their baby to the Lord. It is crucial that we have a class parents go through before they dedicate their child and themselves.
That's the reason we created the Parent & Child Dedication class. It not only helps parents understand what the dedication is and is not, but it also shows parents how to establish the right priorities and equips them to lead their children spiritually. Many churches are using this to impact young parents. You can get more info. here about this resource.