FAQ- If my kid doesn’t want to go to church, do I make them? (Part 1- Infants-Elementary)

First, let’s be clear on what we mean by “church.” Church with a capital C is the group of everyone who has decided to follow Jesus. Then there Matthew and kidsare individual local churches – but even then, “church” can be used to mean a community of people, a building, and a variety of services. The word can be used as an noun, verb, adjective or adverb.  In this post, when I say “go to church,” I am talking about a weekly church service that includes corporate worship, teaching, and connection with others who follow Christ.

I believe that being a part of a church family is an important part of spiritual development for every age.  For more about the value of the church community here are a couple of resources: http://familydiscipleshippath.com/2014/02/14/332/ http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/february/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go-why-i-could-stay-home-but-choo.html

I am a mom, a pastor and a parenting class facilitator. I have many families coming to me with a whole range of questions. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “My kid doesn’t want to go to church/Sunday School/youth group, etc., do I make them go?”  Often shortly after this question is another, “If I make them go, will they begin to resent me, the church, and God?”

These are tough questions and I do not believe that there is a blanket answer that fits every child or family. But I would like to share some of the ideas that have worked for several families that I work with.

For children under 6th grade, the answer is mostly YES. Yes, you should make them go to church. Helping them make connections with kids their age and creating habits and a comfortable environment for the kids to grow in their relationship with Jesus at a young age will lower the chances that you will face the fight when they are older and it’s much more difficult and more complicated. There are ways to encourage church participation without requiring it. There are things you can do to make going to church a great experience for the whole family.

-BUILD CONSISTENCY- Many children show up to church once every 3-4 weeks and fight against it because they feel like the “new kid” every time. Be as consistent as possible attending the same church and the same service with the same routine each week.

-BUILD FRIENDSHIPS- Kids will go where they have friends! Help to build relationships with families from church by having experiences outside of Sunday school. Invite the family over for lunch, invite kids to the birthday parties, and invite friends from school to attend church with you.

-BUILD BUY IN- Children love to be included in decisions and feel as if they have some control over their lives. This includes their church participation. Include children in as many decisions as possible pending on their age.  If you are working to find a church home, include the children in the decision making process. You as parents should make the final decision that you believe is best for your family; however, receive and recognize input from everyone in the family. If you are already committed to a church family, include the children in as many other decisions as possible: which service do you attend? Where do you sit? What will they wear? What will they eat? Which route you walk into the building? Be creative and give as many choices as possible surrounding church attendance. Often when children fight you on any specific issue, they are really fighting to feel like they have a bit of control over their lives.


About familydiscipleshippath

My husband, Tim, and I have been married for 17 years and have 3 great children. Our girls are 13 and 11 and the baby boy is 9. We have been living in Redding, CA and serving at Risen King Community Church since August, 2000. I serve as the Family Ministries Pastor. As a mom and a pastor, I represent both the church and the home and am on a journey of discovering and communicating practical ways the church and family can partner together to guide the young ones in our lives to know and love Jesus and live their lives(their whole lives) in light of that love.
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4 Responses to FAQ- If my kid doesn’t want to go to church, do I make them? (Part 1- Infants-Elementary)

  1. Pastor Olga Brandenberger says:


    May ii have permission to send this to the families at my church. We have a church database with family emails on them. I would like to copy this and send to them.


    Olga Brandenberger

  2. Linda Lee Smith says:

    Take out the “make”. Replace with I (we) want to be with YOU at our church. It is parents’ responsibility to direct/raise their children. AND you be happy that YOU are there. Don’t be gossiping on the way home. Talk about what each learned and did. Also parents and kids…”Don’t provoke or be provoked.

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