Help for Parents
By Pastor Brian Wipf
During the sermon on April 25th, we saw how God intentionally established the annual Feast of Unleavened Bread so that parents had a regular occasion to remind their children about the amazing grace and power of God. Kids, just like adults, need to be regularly reminded of their need for God. I challenged you parents to make sure your kids participate in some sort of regular worship experience; maybe that’s the Sunday morning service, maybe that’s youth group at the youth center.
But how? How do you actually do this? I know many of you want your kids to participate, but they may not so much. Maybe you battle with your teenage over homework and household chores; you don’t have the energy to fight about going to church. Or maybe you are a young family thinking, “what should I be doing now?” Below are some ideas and principles that will help you with your children. A few may be age specific, but some are necessary for all parents regardless of the age of your children.
Firstly, your kids must see genuine faith in you; basically, you need to be setting the example. Our children see us everyday. They know what we are really like. If your faith isn’t genuine, they can tell. They know what your greatest treasure is. If you’re a hypocrite, chances are that’s all your kids are going to be when you force regular church attendance down their throat.
Continuing this theme, what example are you giving your children about church? Are you engaged in worship? Are you participating in Sunday school? Is your Bible open during the sermon? Do you complain about church getting out late or serve up some “roast pastor” in the car on the way home? Do you come to church grumbling? All these actions are teaching your children how they should view church. Instead, come eager and excited. Talk about the Lord’s Day as the best day of the week. Serve others passionately. Implement habits and activities for yourself and your family that teach your kids, “God is really amazing!”
Finishing this theme of example, you might be thinking, “But, Brian, I just don’t feel that strongly about my relationship with God or church.” Then start pleading to God for eyes to see his majesty and splendor. Ask God to create in you a passion for him. Start feeding yourself the things of God praying that God would develop your appetite for him. Want it for you and ask God for a miracle in your own life.
Secondly, establish and then communicate corporate worship as part of your family identity. When my boys don’t want to come to church I’m planning on saying, “You are a Wipf and this is what Wipfs do.” It’s who we are. Obviously, this works best when you start young, but this works even with teenage kids who aren’t excited about your newfound commitment to church attendance. You are the parent; they are children (even teenagers) and until they are “adults” and out of your house you are responsible for their care (including spiritual care). NOTE: this means it’s what you do, too. You can’t implement this principle without the first one (being an example).
Next, especially with your teenagers, empower your kids. Include your children in the decision making process. Provide the parameters, and then let them make some decisions within those parameters. Here’s an example: “Son, you are going to participate regularly somewhere. You decide where that’s going to be: Youth group or Sunday school.” Regularly participating doesn’t mean participating in everything. So establish the principle that needs to be followed, but then allow your student to have a say in how that principle will be followed.
Finally, pray your guts out. The ultimate goal isn’t regular participation at church; the goal is a heart that treasures God above all things. Only a miracle of sovereign grace will produce that. God has ordained that we parents have a pivotal part to play in our children’s spiritual development (so we ignore our influence to the detriment of our children), but ultimately we need God to act with mighty power.
Help for Parents