When Families Skip Church…

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So last week’s post, STOP SHAMING BUSY PARENTS, got some mixed reactions. I think it’s a helpful conversation and a good time to rethink how our shares on Facebook might affect people who are struggling.

when families skip church

Let’s all agree to the following…

1. Kids attending church is a good thing (excluding illness etc.)

I don’t see any argument here – especially from the children’s ministry leaders. Under normal circumstances,

2. Parents are responsible to God for the spiritual upbringing of their children.

Just check out any of the Bible verses bout parents and children – God’s word makes this clear. It’s also clear from the research on kids and salvation points toward parents being the primary influence in how children come to Christ. The second leading influences are related to church involvement (ministry programs, christian friends, mission projects).

3. Churches are responsible to God for how they welcome children.

This is the obvious goal for what we do and why children’s ministry is so important. When families come to your church is their and effort to meet the spiritual needs of all the family members (regardless of their age)?

“What can our ministry do better?”

That’s the first question we should ask when a family struggles to consistently attend worship services. Maybe it’s an issue with the children’s ministry or church nursery, but they are too polite to share their concerns. This is where humble leaders make a real difference. There is no such thing as a “perfect” church, so don’t be upset when people offer their suggestions.

4. We all are responsible to God for how we love and encourage others.

This is where our article rubbed some people the wrong way. Our point was not to dispute the first three items I’m listing here. Rather we need to re-think our attitudes toward parents who are struggling. This may be an issue of wrong priorities in the family, or it may simply be a lifestyle that’s gotten too busy by accident.

Public shaming isn’t right (even on Facebook)
it doesn’t help people and it doesn’t reflect the love of Jesus.

If we think a fellow Christian is losing their way, it’s our responsibility before God to encourage them in private. When Christians re-share a critical article on Facebook it is hurtful to the “weaker brother” and shows unbelievers that judgmental attitudes are still a problem in the church.

5. Facebook doesn’t change people’s minds.

This is something that’s bigger than our blog post. We all tend to like and share what confirms what we already think. We also get upset when people like and share things that we don’t agree. It’s not a platform made for thoughtful conversation.

Christians love to debate internal church issues – that’s not bad – because we feel very strongly in our beliefs. The problem comes when those debates get shared around and un-churched people see all the bickering. That’s not helpful and does not reflect the attitudes Jesus modeled for his followers.

Did I share this from un-confessed pride?

Let’s reflect on our own tendency to humble brag when we share on Facebook. It’s easy to post about the importance of getting the family to church (every time the doors are open) if that’s not a personal struggle. For example, when I was full-time paid staff at a church the temptation to skip was never an issue – it was my job to be there every service. Let’s be careful on how we judge ourselves and others with different standards.

The same can be said of blog comments, which is why we don’t let them flame up in our comment section. We love thoughtful conversation, but there is a way to express opinions without hostility toward fellow believers or causing embarrassment to struggling Christians.

Why do you think families are missing church? How do you reach out to them?

So let’s think about whey families might not be coming to church… I have a few of my own ideas but I’d like to hear from readers. If we all agree with the statements above, where is the breakdown happening?

4 thoughts on “When Families Skip Church…”

  1. We attend a “micro” church … so when someone is missing, everyone notices.
    Our church has strong biblical, historical, and exogetical teaching so we continue to grow and learn even at our advanced age, so most of us are very excited to be at church because we know we are going to learn something new. We have ONE young family with 1.5 children. The women in the church take turns being with the children so the mommy and daddy can attend the teaching session.
    However, most of us are at that phase of life where if we are feeling strong and healthy, we need to take a trip to see friends and relatives, and that is a major reason someone in our congregation will miss church … OR more likely they are feeling too miserable from various ailments to make it in to church.
    Chatting with my daughter-in-law, it turns out that in their quite large church, young parents are corralled into working with the children 2 or 3 times a month so they are missing out on the teaching sessions for the adult congregation. I think often that young parents look forward to church to have some “me time” , but when they end up in the classroom with the kids, they become even more stressed out than if they had stayed home, this makes it difficult for them to be warm and welcoming. Thus, I think many chose to stay home with their own children rather than coming to church to tend to other’s children. I’ve heard this is a problem in many of the larger churches that only offer one service time on Sundays, and there doesn’t seem to be a ready solution. I know that these young adults are burning out and need the teaching of God’s Word to refresh their spirits. Maybe the children’s director should be looking to ask the “grandparents” of the congregation to step in and offer their services to the children.

  2. Great article! I have always struggled with sharing anything that may seem insensitive or critical of parents. I have found that social media has been one of the best ways to communicate with parents however I never want to do anything that would discourage parents or cause them to feel as if their attendance matters more to me or our church than their family.
    As to why I think parents chose not to attend church regularly, my belief is that they are simply over-scheduled. Our culture has pushed families, even godly families to feel as if their children have to be involved in and the “best” in academics, sports, hobbies, friends, etc. Families with multiple children or single-parent homes simply do not have enough time to do it all. Church is just something else on their list of “to-do’s” that they cannot seem to fit in their schedule every week. Church is also the one place that they feel is negotiable in attendance because they haven’t paid “extra” to attend or be a part of and attendance is not mandatory in order to participate.Sadly, this mindset reveals that we, the church and parents raising children, have done a very poor job at disciplining and encouraging each other as believers, because families are choosing the temporary for the eternal.
    As a ministry leader, the task of equipping parents about the importance of church seems impossible. Therefore, we must remember that real discipleship is best done through relationships. When we take the time to get to know people, hear their stories and love them where they are then they are more open to allow us to speak into their lives to encourage and equip them to the spiritual teachers of their children.

  3. I agree, that we should not public shame a fellow believer. I believe most families miss church because they are bored and are looking for something excitement. One way I think we can reach out to families is to meet them right where they are. Offer more focus on the family activities such as Parents and Child Paint Night Out. Also, as a church we must offer our support and the lives of busy parents.

  4. My experience with asking people with older children has been that they need to be fed or they’ve done their time. Churches spend a lot of time sending supporting outside events, groups and missions to bring people to Christ, all the while forgetting the children in their building who are in equal need of discipleship and mentoring. If we are broken inside, it really doesn’t matter what we do outside. I confess to being that mom who needed the break. Church is not daycare. Church is where we go to learn, teach and grow in Christ. Our children are equally important, dare I say more important, than any other member of our congregation. If we lose them, dismiss them, fail to invest in them, it ends with them.

    One way we can help parents is to partner with them and create an environment of family and support. If we help parents help their children, the 1-2 hours a week at church aren’t the only time they see the body of Christ at work.

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