How Skipping Church Affects Our Children

In a Q&A, Carl Trueman was asked about why churches today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this question range from things like the temptations of this world or the irrelevance of the church…your typical answers. But Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection between our parenting and apostasy. Note his statement…

“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.” (Carl Trueman)

Now we know that artificially taking your kids to church neither bestows salvation nor guarantees it. God is obviously not honored by external religious acts without heart worship. This type of legalism is not the subject of this discussion. This is about parenting and the weight of the responsibility behind how they prioritize their time and lifestyle choices for their families. Salvation for our kids and extended family, and anyone else for that matter, are totally dependent on God’s work of grace in their life. Even the best examples shown to our kids is no guarantee that they will follow God in salvation. But we are responsible before God to be setting up the model for Christ-like character.

Parents make choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you. Maybe the reason why our children have no love for Christ is due in part to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ ourselves, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week.

I have first-hand witnessed parents putting sports and other school activities on Sunday mornings in front of the priority of worship first. When television, sports, school, hobbies even family itself are elevated to a place of idolatry and replace the vital Christian responsibilities, then we tell our children that Christ is secondary to all these things. We tell our children that it is not necessary to take up your cross and die to yourself daily in order to follow Christ. We tell them that you only have to live for Christ when it’s convenient for you. We tell them it is okay to sacrifice time with all-satisfying Savior if something “more fun” or “more important” comes along. And this sounds like a clear path to apostasy if you ask me. It is no wonder we are losing our youth at church.

Let’s evaluate where our hearts are by observing our choices. Do you prioritize the local church? Do you prioritize the worship of Christ in your home and on Sundays? Do you prioritize serving Him and worshiping Him in the contexts of school and work?

This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever miss a Sunday or that you can’t have any extracurricular activities. Instead, it is a sobering reminder that we shouldn’t put the things of God at the bottom of the priority list, because it tells our children that Christ is at the bottom of our priority list. And the God of this universe does not belong there.

My prayer is that we all would improve in this area. But be aware, maybe we have not seen this before because Christ isn’t a priority in our lives. And if He isn’t a priority in our lives, then our children will know and follow suit.