Finding Balance in Church Involvement for Kids: A Parent's Perspective
Being both a parent and a Children's Minister I understand how difficult navigating the realm of church involvement for our children can be. Let's explore the dilemma faced by children's pastors who are trying to encourage youth and kids to attend church events when parents don't make it a priority. As a parent myself, I painfully know the struggle to balance church and the rest of your child's life. In this blog post, I'll share my perspective on finding a balance between church involvement and respecting the boundaries parents set for their children. In this post I am addressing the Christian family in middle class neighborhoods, values church attendance, practices Christianity, and attends church almost every Sunday.
Growing up as the granddaughter of a Baptist minister and having a mother who loved church, I spent a significant amount of time at our local church. From Sunday morning worship and Sunday school to Sunday night worship and Wednesday night Bible studies, my week revolved around church activities. However, I understand that not every family's church culture is the same.
Parents who only bring their kids to Sunday morning worship and special events have made a conscious decision regarding their child's church involvement. They have determined that this level of church attendance is sufficient and appropriate for their kids at this time. It's important for us as children's ministers to respect these decisions rather than trying to push for more church attendance. Of course inviting families to attend other church events or programs is important but ultimately it is the parent's decision as to how often church is attended.
It's essential to remember that kids can experience Jesus through avenues other than just church events. They can find faith at home, within the beauty of nature, through interactions at school, and even from their friends. It may be that parents believe a balanced combination of these sources is more beneficial than intense church involvement. We must acknowledge that different families have different circumstances and beliefs, and it's not our place to judge or force our own perspectives onto them.
As a parent myself, I have come to realize the importance of finding the right balance for my own children. When my son was younger, I brought him to church regularly. However, as he grew into his teenage years, I noticed he wasn't enjoying and passionately disagreed with the youth culture and activities at our church. Rather than forcing him to attend a group where he felt out of place, I chose to respect his feelings and provide him with other opportunities to experience Jesus at home.
In addition to my son, I have a six-year-old daughter who sometimes struggles with attending her Sunday school class. Being the youngest in her class, she often feels left out. Her class ranges from age 5 to age 11. As a parent, it's crucial for me to be understanding of her emotions and not push her to attend every single church event. I believe that encouraging her faith is more about fostering a healthy and positive connection with God, rather than just focusing on the number of times she attends church.
It's important for children's ministers to respect the boundaries set by parents. While it may be tempting to pressure them into more church involvement, it is not our place to dictate what is best for their children. Instead, we can explore alternative approaches. If the current weekly program isn't successful, suggest focusing on more special events that attract a larger number of kids. This way, kids can still experience the joy of community and faith without feeling pressured to attend every week.
Navigating the balance between church involvement and respecting parents' boundaries is a delicate dance for children's ministers and parents alike. It's crucial to recognize that each family has their own unique circumstances and preferences. While church events play a vital role in nurturing a child's faith, we must also acknowledge that kids can experience Jesus in various settings and through different people. By finding a balance and respecting parental decisions, we can create an environment where children feel loved, accepted, and encouraged on their spiritual journey.
Shawn M. Howell
You can find me on YouTube: @shawnmhowell