Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Why take our children to church?
Dear Father Paul: I am a grandmother with three pre-teen grandchildren. Their moms, my two daughters, seem uninterested in church. It’d be safe to say that the families go to church on Christmas and Easter and that’s about it. They and my sons-in-law have lots and lots of reasonable sounding excuses … “tired from work, grocery shopping, house work, yard work,” and the like. Both moms were raised in the church, and enjoyed church at the time, especially the youth group. My question: how can I impress upon the moms the importance of the grandkids attending church without nagging? — O. L.
Dear O. L.: Thank you for your excellent question. I get it a lot. As I said in last month’s column, people pretty much always find some way to do what they really want to do … and always find excuses to not do what they really don’t want to do. But you are right, nagging never works.
The key, I think, in your case, is to make them “want” to get the whole family in church. We are blessed in this area because we have dozens of truly wonderful churches.
This true story might help … assuming your daughters don’t want to ever see their kids in jail.
A few years ago I attended a retirement dinner for a very prominent juvenile court judge. After several speakers praised and thanked him for his years of service, the judge stood and thanked the attendees, then made other remarks which I promptly forgot.
But what I have never forgotten were these words. He said, “I served on the juvenile court bench of Georgia for nearly 40 years and had thousands of kids come before me for everything from rolling a friend’s yard to murder. In all those years I can count on just the fingers of both hands the kids who came before me for really serious crimes whose parents had them in church, Sunday School and the church youth group most every week. The fact is that the numbers of that group were miniscule compared to those whose parents never took them to church.” Wow!
Your daughters and their husbands, I’m sure, love their kids and sacrifice for them. They no doubt make sure that their bodies have a house and good food, and that their minds are exposed to a quality educational experience. Almost all parents do.
But what about their spirits? The Bible clearly teaches us that we are all “three part beings” … body, soul (mind) and spirit. See I Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12. And that we humans are made in the “image of God” as the Bible says in Genesis 1:26. Thus, we are a “trinity” as God himself is a trinity … again, body, soul (mind) and spirit.
For any parent to spend an abundance of time and money on caring for a child’s body (think about the grocery bill and the house payment), plus food for the soul (the mind) … (think about college and other school expenses), and then invest next to nothing on a child’s spirit is almost guaranteed to produce the kind of selfish, undisciplined, unkind, potty mouth, low morals folks we see daily on our TVs.
Here’s the truth. It is not … I repeat, not the school’s or the culture’s job to teach our children values, spirituality and morals. It is the parents’ … assisted by the church!
I know this is a little hard, but we pastors are often the people who have to comfort moms and dads whose kids get into big trouble and who sob, “Where did we go wrong?” I want to answer (but I am too kind), “Sir, or madam, you went wrong years ago when you decided to sleep in, play golf or go to the mall on Sunday morning and let your kid find his own way. You went wrong when you let him/her play on a baseball or softball team on Sunday morning and feed his Body and Soul (mind) at the expense of his Spirit in church. I’m so sorry, but it’s a little late now.”
A human body that isn’t fed will malnourish … as will a human soul (mind). But so will a human spirit!
Why not just send them this column O.L. I pray that they will take it to heart before your grandkids are grown and it’s too late.
Do you have a question? Email it to me at email@example.com and I will try to answer your question in the paper.
Father Paul Massey is pastor emeritus of Church of the Holy Cross in Fayetteville, Georgia. Visit www.holycrosschurch.wordpress.com for more information, service times and directions.