Oh man, what am I teaching my kids about church?!

Posted on Dec 20, 2011 in Parenting

Teaching kids about churchI realized a few weeks ago that I’ve defaulted to teaching my kids two things about church that I would never intentionally teach them.

Every Sunday we wake up a bit earlier than usual and I tell our kids, “Hey, it’s time to get ready to go to church!” It’s innocent enough, but to Hannah, our two year old, I’m reinforcing the fact that church is a building we attend once or twice a week. Although we all know that’s not an entirely accurate understanding of ecclesia, it’s what she’s learning from me. But what else do I say? How else do I teach her from a young age that church isn’t just a building we attend — it’s a body of believers, a group of people who are “called out?” Should I even bother with that at this age?

The second thing I noticed I’m teaching Hannah about church, though, is even more unhelpful. Every Sunday after church I find myself asking her, “Hannah, did you have fun at church today?” Out of all the things I could ask her and “debrief” about our time at church, why do I default to asking her about fun?! Why would I reinforce to her that the main thing I’m interested in hearing about is if she had fun or not? I certainly do not want her growing up thinking that church is primarily supposed to be an entertaining place.

Inside, I think the question stems from a heart that just wants her time at church to be a positive experience, but I’m not sure that I’m asking questions that help her understand even from a young age that church isn’t primarily about having fun nor having a nursery staff that makes sure she enjoys herself.

And when she gets older, will that expectation then transfer to youth pastors?

Of course, I could ask her perhaps a better question like, “Hannah, what did you learn at church today?” but will that teach her that church is primarily a place where we’re supposed to learn about God? What happens if that mentality sticks with her into adulthood and she gets to a place where she’s not learning much at church anymore? Will she be that person who leaves a church because, “I’m just not learning or growing here,” as if individual spiritual growth is the church’s responsibility?

QUESTION: I think I might be over-analyzing this, but I don’t know. What do you guys think?

About the author,

Tim is a dad who is imperfectly pursuing his wife and children while ultimately trying to pursue the Lord's vision for his family. He's written a few books and dabbles in online video, mostly to support his primary ministry at home.

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