Finding a healthy church for your family is vital to you and your children’s spiritual growth. The centrality of God’s Word, worship and community are important aspects when looking for the right church. But what do you do once you find the church you want to settle down in? Here are a few things to keep in mind for your good, and especially for the good of your teenagers.
Join: Our attitudes toward church membership and its importance will be easily perceived and often mimicked by our students. It can be easy for us to just sit and spectate in the pew. But God’s Word makes it clear that joining with a church body is important. There’s a number of newly baptized people that were added to the fellowship of believers in Acts 2:41-42. It was also assumed by both Jesus (Matt. 18:15-20) and Paul (1 Cor. 5:1-2) that there be an understanding as to who was a part of the church. In both passages, those who were involved in unrepentant sin were to be removed from them, implying that there’s an understood group from which they should be removed.
So, church membership is an agreed-upon understanding of a local body as to who is a part of it. I do not mean that there is one way to arrive at an understanding of who members are. Some churches have a class, some have you sign a covenant, while others have a spontaneous vote and add you immediately. Regardless, when we have chosen a church, we should go through the necessary process of becoming a member.
Attend: It’s important that we faithfully attend the churches to which we belong. The author of Hebrews apparently encountered some who had decided they didn’t need to attend their church (Heb. 10:25). Perhaps the most telling question we could ask ourselves is, “What’s an acceptable reason for my family to miss church?” Intentionally answering this question as a family and holding each other to that standard will speak volumes to our children.
The moments we wake up and want to go back to bed, but choose to go to church anyway, are going to teach our kids how important worshiping with the body of Christ is to us. When raising kids and discipling young people, much more is caught than taught. We can tell them all day long how important church is, but that morning will tell them so much more than we could ever verbalize. So let’s push through those moments, by God’s grace, and go join fellow believers in worshiping the God who created us, gave his Son so that we could come to him in prayer, and be a part of the community that he has purchased.
Serve: When Paul describes the church, one of his most poignant illustrations is of the church as a body (1 Cor. 12:12-30). The body of Christ is made up of many parts that serve diverse purposes. For us as a congregation to be fulfilling our unified purpose in Christ, we all need to be serving together. We can’t just be spectators at our churches. We need to be serving.
This community that we covenant together with is meant to spur us on to run toward Jesus.
Teach a children’s Sunday School class. Be a greeter. Help pass out offering plates or bulletins. Work the information desk. Help the youth Pastor with a small group. Find a way to serve alongside our children. There are several families at my church who sign up to be greeters together, and it’s a beautiful thing. If you are unsure how to get plugged into service at your church, just call the office and ask them; they’ll point you to some need, and gladly so. (Note: Many churches require church membership to serve in areas of ministry, so go through that process so you can start serving!)
Encourage: As the author of Hebrews says in 10:23-25, we meet together to stir one another up to love and good deeds. This community that we covenant together with is meant to spur us on to run toward Jesus. We look around, we hear the voices singing, we pray with and for one another, we serve and allow others to serve and encourage us. All of these things bring us closer into community and closer to Christ. Our children will see and experience this as they spend time in church—and our prayer is that they would be drawn to Christ themselves.
The encouragement in Hebrews 10 closes with the phrase “all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” The community that we belong to is a community of hope. We meet together, sing together, pray together and serve one another, resting in the hope that one day Christ will return, bringing our faith to sight. It’s this hope that drives us together, and drives us on. Let your children experience that hope by showing them the importance of being in a church community.
Read part one here.
In a changing world, your children will have questions you may not know how to answer. Join us for the fourth annual ERLC National Conference on "Parenting: Christ-Centered Parenting in a Complex World" on August 24-26, 2017 in Nashville, TN, this event will welcome key speakers including Russell Moore, Jim Daly, Sally Lloyd-Jones, Todd Wagner, and Jen Wilkin. Register by May 31 and receive a FREE Austin Stone Kids Worship Album.