As a child growing up in a Christian household, I understand first hand why your child really doesn’t like going to church. I remember sitting in Sunday School at the age of 5 yrs old and older (that I usually attended every Sunday) not really understanding who this “Jesus” was and why we had to come to a building to “worship” him. The only thing I looked forward to, was being around my peers (as an only child), trying to learn what it all meant.
My son is now 20 yrs old. I wanted to write this blog post from his perspective. So I asked him to be honest as to why he didn’t like going to church at a young age. Unfortunately, some Christian parents (including me) have failed miserably! Why? Because of these 5 reasons below…
At 5 yrs old and older, I didn’t fully understand who Jesus was or why we were supposed to believe and worship someone we couldn’t see. I attended church on a regular basis, feeling bored, looking around to see other kids who were there or got spanked when they didn’t sit still. I didn’t get it and my attention span was short.
When I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior (also at 5 yrs old) and got baptised, I have to honestly say I was going along with the crowd of cousins who did the same. Did we honestly know what we were doing? Maybe. But I was at the age of being a follower. It was exciting to see everyone in church praising God for what we all did! I was on to something! As the early years turned into teenage than adult years, boredom went away as I got closer to Jesus.
Our children who experience boredom in church need to honestly know why they are there. They might not fully understand, but introducing a “children’s bible” to them and reading it along with them, will spark interest in who Jesus is at their level of understanding. Attending Sunday School and youth ministry church also helps familiarize them with God.
We can’t just drop our children off and expect for others to do our work as a parent. Christian parents are also responsible for trying to excite our children about being a Christian. If we are bored and don’t become actively involved in and out of church – our children won’t either.
2. They don’t understand who Jesus is.
As a continuation of being bored, children don’t like attending church because they don’t truly understand who Jesus is. This man “Jesus” seems like a fairy tale, a myth, a ghost. How is a child supposed to understand a man that they can’t see or touch? Again, let’s introduce them to the bible.
A children’s bible is full of pictures and stories written just for them. If we take the time to sit down and read with them, answering questions along the way, then the seed of Jesus is planted within their hearts. When your Pastor or youth ministry teacher speaks of Jesus, then your child will start putting two and two together. They will remember the answers that they received to their questions as you read the bible. The mystery of Jesus turns into a belief system that becomes real.
3. It’s too early in the morning.
Our children are accustomed to going to school early in the morning. It’s routine. They may fuss and fight about getting up early, but they have developed the habit of doing so. After they’ve had the day off on Saturday, to perhaps sleep in or stay up a little later at night, they may have a hard time awakening early on Sunday morning to attend Sunday school or church services. We all struggle with getting our kids out the door before service (usually sneaking in a bit late) because of it.
This struggle can be hard for parents as well. We all fall into the trap of wanting to sleep in on Sunday mornings. But just as we make it to work everyday, we must treat this day of worship as important (even more important in my opinion) than any other day. If this is a continued problem and your church has more than one service, then maybe attending an afternoon or evening service works best for your family. Yes, we are human and need rest or may also work on Sunday, but God should be the number one priority in our lives on Sunday morning, afternoon and every day.
4. It’s too long.
Have you ever experienced going to church and the service continues for over 2+ hours or all day? Yep – me too! Sitting still and listening to your deacons pray, choir sing, pastor preach and announcements, announcements and more announcements – can be a bit overwhelming.
I know that church service is a program. The “order of service” is how it’s done. But when everyone has to be seen and heard over and over again – quite frankly – service is just too long! So if YOU feel that it’s too long, can you imagine how your children feel? I believe that’s why so many children fall asleep in church. They have short attention spans, get bored, up early and now service is just too long.
I understand that God’s spirit can prolong service. Ultimately, God is in charge and we should welcome His spirit. But when people start prolonging service to be seen or just because they can, then your child will not want to attend.
This is also a great opportunity to have our children involved with youth ministry church. When our children become active in participating in services for them, with topics that they are interested in, then the service won’t seem long. Being a youth ministry teacher, I’ve experienced having to shorten hot topics because our discussions went beyond our adult church services. The goal is to want our children to enjoy going to church – not watching the clock.
5. Their friends or peers don’t attend.
Children usually accept things better when their friends accept them. From going to school, trying out for sports or even church, children always want to feel that they are a part of something that their peers are a part of. When their friends or peers don’t attend, they don’t want to either.
When your child has friends that belong to their church, they feel that they have something in common. Attending church creates common Christian interests, the sense of belonging, lifelong bonds and even extended family. If they don’t have someone to call their friend then they may feel excluded or left out of church activities. They need someone who they can relate and talk with about Christian issues.
I’ve made many friends when I was a child in church that I still call friends today. We may not all attend the same church as we did as kids, but we remain friends and brothers/sisters in Christ. I also have adult friends that I will cherish forever. God created us to have friends and family who truly love each other. But Jesus is truly the best friend our children will ever have!
Planting the seed
All of these reasons are simply “reasons” why some of our children don’t enjoy attending church on Sunday. There are surely more that I haven’t mentioned. Unfortunately, we all have to deal with one of these issues from one time or another with our children. But it’s our goal and Christian duty to train them up in the Lord.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Jesus tells us in His word how we are to raise our children. Even when they cry, fuss and complain, taking them to church plants the seed. They may not remain in church or stray away as they get older, but God’s word will always remain in their hearts.