One Sunday morning, when moving from our Sunday school class to the worship service in the auditorium, I overheard this conversation between a mother and her three children. “Do you want to stay for church — or go home and play and have ice cream?” The children replied while jumping up and down, “We want to go home! Yes, let’s go home and have ice cream!”
Before asking, the mother knew the answer.
According to a recent report from relevantchildrensministry.com, 85% of the people who come to know Jesus as their personal Savior do so before the age of 18.
Well-known evangelist and publisher Dwight L. Moody once said, “If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God.”
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” But one of the concerns in both large and small churches is how to encourage parents to bring their children to church and participate as a family in the various programs the church offers.
“The church can reinforce Christian values which the child learns at home and … the parents are trying to teach,” said Greg Gilbreath, pastor of Madison Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.
Gilbreath is the author of a series of books, “Daddy Is My Favorite Word,” which help children learn to read while also reinforcing family values.
The church offers a balance from worldly pursuits. Contact with church leaders shows how mature Christians live their lives. Sunday School provides lessons that help us make choices that reflect God in our lives.
Here are three additional ways church attendance helps nurture spiritual growth in children:
1. Participation in church reinforces the value of prayer. We teach our children to have a relationship with Jesus — to make Him our personal friend and the One we can talk to about anything.
2. Children who are in church have a support system when negative concerns arise in their life. Children have big problems, just like adults, but often they do not voice these feelings. Church leaders help provide encouragement that Jesus is concerned about both big and small problems.
3. A church focused on Scripture helps children develop a biblical worldview. Studies show memorization is an important aspect for mental growth. Memorizing Scripture adds a spiritual component to this development. Throughout the year, the Word is taught in age-appropriate ways during Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, Bible Drill, GAs, RAs, Acteens and other activities.
Victor Love, a deacon of Greater St. Luke Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee, believes there is no substitute for children attending church.
“Children and youth need God,” Love said. “The future of our children depends on making sure our family attends church.”