Attend many churches and you would think the old adage “children should be seen and not heard” is still in effect. Often children are hustled out for children’s worship as soon as possible or aren’t even really welcomed into corporate worship at all. You may see a couple of kids picking up attendance cards or used communion cups and even an occasional teen participating in worship leading activities. In general though, children are kept out of the way and either entertained or merely prevented from “disrupting” adults and their activities.
Sadly, it’s these very attitudes and ways of interacting with children that will make it easier for them to leave the church when they are older. Studies are beginning to show one of the worst things you can do for young people is to focus on making sure they are entertained. Young people need to be considered a vital part of the church family in part by encouraging them to serve the church in a variety of ways.
Tomorrow, I will share with you some creative ways your children can serve the church. In the meantime, here are a few of the benefits your children will receive from taking the time and effort to serve their congregation.
- A sense of purpose. One of the overarching questions young people attempt to answer is “What is my purpose?”. Yes, hopefully they know they attend church to worship God, learn more about what He wants for them and from them and for fellowship, but they need to have a sense of purpose, too. They need to understand they are a part of the Body with an important function to serve. Knowing that they are an “eye” or a “big toe” and being put to work in their area will help them understand and really feel the need for their participation in the Body.
- A sense of connection. Your children need to have strong emotional attachments to the people in your congregation. Those attachments are often what helps them through the dry spiritual patches in their lives. Those relationships can keep them attending or draw them back if they have fallen away from God. By serving the congregation, your children will start to develop meaningful relationships with other adults in the congregation. They will often find natural spiritual mentors. They will feel connected to the people who can help them stay strong spiritually.
- A sense of God’s Plans for their lives. God has given each of your children special gifts He wants them to discover and develop. God knows they will need those skills and talents in the future to serve Him in ways only He knows are coming. Serving the church allows your child to experiment and discover the gifts God has given them. It gives them ways to develop and begin using those gifts. Finding, developing and beginning to use those gifts now will help them be ready for the other ways God wants those gifts used in their future.
- A sense of the reason for the church family. God wants us to be in congregations for important reasons. If your child is merely going to church to be entertained or is in glorified babysitting during their time there, those reasons are lost. When your children are no longer entertained or have the freedom to choose whether or not to attend, they will often choose to walk away. Becoming an active participant in all areas of the church will help them better understand why God created the church – in spite of the inevitable flaws created by the sins and lack of spiritual maturity of its members.
- A sense of who God is and what He wants your children to know. As your children spend more time as active participants and servants in church, they will have additional opportunities to learn about God and what He wants for them and from them. They will learn these things from additional opportunities to hear lessons or by talking to other Christians or from the spiritual mentor relationships they develop while serving. The more reinforcement your Christian parenting receives from the church and its members, the better your chances of a successful outcome.
Don’t be discouraged because your church doesn’t currently use young people to serve consistently or because you have no idea how to get your children started in serving their congregation. Tomorrow, I will share lots of ideas to get you started. While you wait, begin praying for God to help you find the ways your children need to serve in order to grow spiritually and reach their godly potential.