You, Your Child and The Church
Updated: May 28
Essentially the Church is there to support parents in their own responsibility towards their children.
One could say that Parents and the Church are, or should be, partners in the spiritual upbringing of children.
Unfortunately however, statistics show that more than 80% of children never attend Sunday School or any other kind of service.
Let's take a look at what your relationship with the Church should be in regard to preparing your child for eternity, and the ways in which you and the Church can form a partnership.
What does the Church have to offer?
Most Churches have a variety of different ministries for children and young people. The main one usually being the Sunday School or Children's Service as they are more often called.
These services are held, either while the adult service is taking place, or directly after the adult service. Sometimes even before the main service.
There are also quite often, mid-week services held in the afternoons or evenings, as well as other organised, age appropriate outreach programs, where children are encouraged to reach out to the community.
In most instances Churches take the training and support of their, largely volunteer teachers, seriously and we can send our children with complete confidence that they are being taught
in the correct manner and according to God's word.
What about the Parent?
For many years I was involved in the Children's Ministry at our church and it was heart-breaking to see how many parents simply dropped their children off and drove away only to
return an hour later to pick them up.
As a Sunday school teacher there is only so much you can do in that hour. Parents really need to be actively involved in the spiritual education of their children and setting the right example.
What is taught at church and in Sunday school needs to be lived out at home.
If you are not prepared to attend church to worship God yourself, why should your child feel any differently about attending Sunday School or a Children's Service?
Setting the correct example, both at church and at home, is of vital importance in the spiritual growth of your child.
Things to Consider when Choosing a Service for Your Child
I realize this may sound terrible coming from someone who has been involved in children's ministry for many years, but I am speaking from experience both as a teacher and a parent.
You wouldn't dream of dropping your child off with a strange babysitter you didn't know. Yet that is exactly what many parents, if not most parents, do when taking their children to Sunday school. I certainly know that we were guilty of this. We simply assume that because
it's church that everything must be right.
Your child's spiritual education is the most important education they will receive because it affects not only their life here on earth, but into eternity. Don't just drop your child off at the and take for granted that they are being well taught and taken care of.
So what are some things you can do?
Find out what is being taught. There are many wonderful curriculum available for use in Children's Ministry, but if they are not teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they mean nothing.
I was horrified once, when one of my children came to me after Sunday
school very concerned about what she had been taught that specific day. It had quite
literally put the fear of God into her and she told me she didn't want to go back. She
was only about 10 years old at the time. Any teaching has to be based on the truth and
it has to be taught in an age-appropriate way.
2. Find out as much about the person or people teaching your child as you can.
Are they saved? The shocking truth is that when I first volunteered to help out at
Sunday school, no-one asked if I was saved or not. In fact, they knew nothing
about me except that I attended that church. I had a book handed to me and told to go
and teach. Granted things have changed considerably since then, but we need to be
aware of how things are done at our churches.
3. How involved is the leadership of the church in the children's ministry? Do they ever
pop in unexpectedly just to see how things are going? Do they support and train their
teachers? Do they take the salvation of young children seriously?
Charles Spurgeon said:
"A child of five, if properly instructed, can as truly believe and be regenerated,
as an adult."
4. As a parent, especially when your child first starts attending a new church / Sunday
school, ask if you can sit in on a class or two. They should be willing to allow you to do
this. It will enable the teacher to get to know you and give you confidence that your
child is in safe hands.
5. If you have a child attending a Sunday school or children's service, make sure to write a
little note of thanks showing your appreciation now and then. It will mean the world
to the teacher and be a great source of encouragement. And make sure to pray for the
person teaching your child.
Most churches go out of their way to make the children's service as inviting and interesting as they can for our children, but we need to make sure that our children are truly being taught the truth about what Jesus Christ did for them and why. It cannot simply be a place where they go to be entertained for an hour or so.
A Final Thought
Regular Church or Sunday School attendance never got anyone into heaven, only Salvation through Jesus Christ can do that.
Is your child learning that he or she needs to be saved from sin? Or are they simply listening to cute Bible stories and learning to recite Bible verses without learning how they apply to their lives.
Are children regularly given the opportunity to accept Christ as their saviour? If not, I would suggest you look for a Church that takes the salvation of children seriously. Again, this is something which should be done in an age-appropriate way and not something to be forced onto a child or it will mean nothing.
When the Church and parents are in partnership, then we can hope to have a far greater impact on the lives of our children. Will it guarentee that our children will never go astray? Unfortunately not, but let's at least give them the best possible chance.
Matthew 18 : 14 "So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven, that one of these little one's should perish."