A young Christian man who attended university and worked on the side for income still regularly attended Sunday services and prayer meetings.
When he was once asked why he attended all the meetings when he was so busy, the quick reply came: “Why? It’s such a habit for me; it comes naturally to me, I think. Even as a child, my parents always took me along, and I grew up knowing it was important and right.”
There is power in habit, whether it is a good or a bad habit. That is why it is of such great importance that those who work with children help them develop good habits. One of the best habits parents can plant and nurture in their children is the habit of regular church attendance.
“But,” someone might object, “I am not in favor of taking my children to services too often. If I force them to attend services now, it will be too much for them, and when they are independent, they will want nothing to do with it!”
It is strange that you only hear this objection when it is about religion. But when it comes to school attendance, music lessons, or chores in the home, there is a fundamental difference of opinion.
When a child does not want to go to school, parents go to great lengths to paint in his or her mind the great value of going to school. They emphasize the importance of education. But on the other hand, when it comes to attending church, they often do not want to defend the importance of this matter with a single word. How sad! Is it any wonder then that many children get the impression that church services are unimportant and that you don’t need to go if you don’t feel like it?
Of course, good parents do not “force” their children to go to church services with them. They take them from their earliest childhood, and when the children grow up, it is the normal thing for them to continue to attend services.
The parents’ conviction about the importance of this matter is then often transferred to the children. Respect for the house of God comes naturally.
Other parents may say, “What value is there in taking children to church services? After all, they don’t understand what is being preached.” This argument is a misconception. Even if the services were conducted in a foreign language, the children would still come under the influence of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The whole atmosphere has a beneficial effect on their growth – the sincerity of the people, the spirit of devotion, the joy in the singing. Such impressions influence the children more than we are usually aware.
Children often understand more of the services than we realize. If we took the time to ask them questions about it, we could probably make some interesting observations.
After a church service, a mother once overheard her three-year-old boy echoing the preacher’s tale of the prodigal son to his playmates.
After an evangelistic service, an eight-year-old girl playing church with her little friends spoke forcefully to the small crowd, “You can’t get into the church by coming to services on Sunday mornings or by signing a membership card. You have to be saved!”
Young children hear more than we think. They are more easily influenced than we imagine. Everything they see and hear makes a stronger impression on them than on adults. They are still at such a tender age that their whole environment influences them greatly. Every church service the children attend will strengthen the impressions of good in them.
Still other parents object, “I don’t take my kids to the services because they get so tired.” If that is your fear, why not take some preventive measures and, for example, put the children to bed a little earlier than usual on Saturday night?
No doubt, many a child may complain of tiredness when getting ready to go to church. They know very well that in response to this complaint, the parents may leave them at home to play, and perhaps the parents will even stay home with them.
May God open the eyes of all those who hold the molding of young souls in their hands to the importance of eternal things!
If the value of a soul, the certainty of eternity, and the possibility of eternal separation from God burn clearly in our souls, we will try everything with seriousness and zeal to make the house of God and the Word of God with their holy influences important to our children.