Teach Kids Why We Attend In-Person Church
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Original Author: Lydia Kaiser
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Even though COVID restrictions have lifted, some people are having a hard time getting back to church. We got comfortable staying in our PJs and watching something online and having more time for ourselves on Sunday. Churches are reporting that attendance is suffering. Why DO we go to church anyway? Kids need to know the answer to this question and not be under the impression that we just go to church out of habit or to earn God’s approval.
Let’s start with God’s clear command in Hebrews 10:25 to not neglect to meet together. God’s commands are for our good, so why is it good for us to get together?
Here are four reasons why it’s good for us to physically gather.
In-person church helps establish your pastor as your shepherd.
People have historically gone to church to hear a good teaching from the Word of God. Now that you can hear great sermons through a variety of media all the time, people might think it isn’t necessary to go in person. When you hear the Word of God from someone you submit to as your personal shepherd, you’re allowing him to feed into your life to help you grow and change. The word “pastor” comes from the Latin word for feeder or shepherd, someone who takes the flock out to feed in the pasture. Show your kids that this is a person you go to for personal guidance.
In-person church helps us recognize that we are part of the larger Body of Christ.
Our kids need to experience the Body in order to recognize it. This is our spiritual family, often with more in common and sweeter fellowship than with our blood relatives. We need the community of believers and they need us. It’s pretty difficult to practice togetherness if we don’t get together.
Just how do we need each other? God made us relational beings. We need the eye contact and communication with like-minded people. It feeds our soul like nothing else can. We need to let others know our needs and we need to hear about their needs in first person. I know–it’s hard to have a really heartfelt conversation in church but it should be a jumping off place where we make connections and then make more plans to get together. We can look to the many “one another” verses in the New Testament to help us know what to do for one another in the body of Christ.
In-person church allows us to practice something we call “corporate worship.”
Praying together, sharing our praise and requests to God, gives added power to our prayers. In Matthew 18:19 Jesus says, “If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.” So, if two praying together brings added power, how about hundreds? Praying together helps to teach others who aren’t as practiced, how to pray. Teach kids that when prayer is going on at church, don’t tune it out and think your own thoughts, instead repeat each sentence in your mind and make it your own prayer, adding to the power of the prayer.
Another aspect of corporate worship is singing praises together. This pleases God as evidenced by many Scriptures. Some people just don’t sing because they didn’t grow up doing it in church, so they’re uncomfortable and missing out. Singing helps us express the glory of God and our gratitude to Him, which makes it even easier to speak of His glory. Again, it’s training, like with praying. Don’t let your kids miss out on regularly making a joyful noise along with a roomful of likeminded people. It will help them formulate words of praise for the rest of their lives! This is a privilege we shouldn’t take for granted. There are millions of believers who can’t sing out loud for fear of persecution. There will be glorious music in Heaven and when we fill an auditorium with the sound of praise now, we get a little taste of Heaven.
In-person church is important because there are people who come to church because they need help with their faith.
Perhaps they don’t know Jesus but are seeking. Or they might be trying to get back to a faith that never grew and they don’t know where to begin. Or they might be a new believer and need to meet and get to know their new spiritual family. Being welcomed and cared for is essential to their spiritual growth. Children can learn early how to kindly welcome people arriving to church, especially other kids. Help them understand how important their role is in that.
Discussing all these things will help your children change focus and appreciate why you’re getting back to church, instead of focusing on why they’d rather not go. We hope they’ll catch enthusiasm from our example, but we need to verbally teach these values as well.
It’s been said that watching church online is like watching a campfire on a screen. It looks nice but you can’t experience the warmth. Extoll the warmth to kids and they will bask in it too.