A child’s best chance of growing into a fully devoted follower of Christ is when parents are actively involved in their spiritual instruction. The scriptural mandate for a child’s spiritual development clearly centers upon the home. God has left no misunderstanding here.
Many teenagers are walking away from the faith once they graduate High School and/or leave home. For many congregations, the significant investment of resources into age-level ministries is providing little return (when it’s not combined with parental involvement). Although these students are active in church while living at home as minors, as many as 70-88% of them leave church after High School.
This is not due to a lack of effort on the part of the church to provide good programming and mentors; rather, it’s more of a lack of parental involvement. Too many parents passively expect the church to do all the work associated with their child’s spiritual upbringing. Parents’ general attitude and involvement usually consists only of dropping their kids off at the best children’s/youth ministry in town and allowing trained professionals or other volunteers to handle the job for them. Parents have been eased into complacency.
God never intended for organized religion or the church calendar to replace the family. Your child’s spiritual training should not be solely dependent upon church activities; rather, it should be centered on family life. The world is a challenging place for a child to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. The solution is not an hour on Sunday. The solution is not the hippest youth minister in town, the most alluring programs, or the hot-spot where all the cool kids hang out. The solution for your children is you - 24/7.
The average child will spend more than 3000 hours in the home each year, but they will spend less than 50 hours at church. Compared to the potential of parents, the church has limited potential to impact the heart of a child. What happens at home (in many ways) is more important than what happens at church.
Yes, the church has a vital role in your child’s spiritual upbringing, but as parents we must stop idly expecting someone else to do what God has commanded us to do. When an additional voice teaches your children about the Bible, it should serve as reinforcement and not as an introduction. Don’t drop your kids off at church. Bring them home to it.