Why do kids hate going to church? Do your kids hate going to church? If they do, do you know why?
As the wife of a children’s pastor I can tell you if your child does not like going to church you are not building into their relationship with Jesus Christ. No matter what the age, your child needs to like going to church and if they don’t, you have a problem. Don’t ignore it.
I was sitting in church a few weeks ago watching a little 3-year-old be bored out of her mind. She kept grabbing at her mother. And what did Mom do? She kept pushing this little girl’s hand away. Not only that, the child was wandering to and fro from her seat to the floor trying to find something to keep her occupied.
Why would a parent take their 3-year-old into service when there is a perfectly good program to put them in? What message did this little girl get about church? It definitely was not a good one.
I also watched a little third grader, looking completely confused, as she watched adults worship. She was looking around at all the adults like they were aliens. Sitting in the row behind her was a young boy, who looked to be about 11 years old, and was receiving incessant instruction from his mom, as she disturbed everyone around her. Okay, maybe not everyone, but it was disturbing me. The boy did not look happy.
This is not teaching children to love church. There is a great program for your kids. Why not allow them to worship at their own level?
If your child does not like their Sunday school class then find one they do like. But before you do, find out why they don’t like it. Go with them and see if they have reason to dislike the class. Either get involved to make it better, or find another place for your child to worship.
And now, here is the best one: I watched a little girl—dressed in her cute pink dress—throw up…yes…throw up in service. A lady ran, grabbed some paper towels and gave them to this child’s mom. Mom wiped the vomit off the carpet. Then someone brought her a trashcan, and the little girl blew chunks in the trashcan. Here’s the kicker! Mom did not leave! Meanwhile, the preaching went on, as this sick, adorable, little girl held her tummy. Yes, the preaching was good, but not that good to stay in a church service with a kid vomiting through the message. Seriously?!
Are you kidding me? No, I am not. This is a true story. I saw it with my own eyes. I’m just glad I wasn’t close enough to catch the aroma.
Church needs to be a place children love to go. When church is a place they enjoy, and have fun, they think of church in a good way. If they hate it, what does that say to them about church and about God?
Talk to your child about their feelings with regard to church, and then take into consideration what they say. Really listen, and do your best to understand. Are their feelings valid? If they are, help by finding solutions.
My children always enjoyed going to church. They started as babies, and now as adults they are still involved in church. As a pastor’s family we were at church most of the weekend. One time I told the kids we would be taking one of the weekends off to stay home and give them a break. I had a mutiny on my hands! “Mom! We want to go with Dad!” They loved going to church. We went.
Don’t do anything that makes church not fun for your child.
Here are some of the ways parents do this:
- Getting upset because the line was long to pick them up – Sadly, I have seen this way too often. Parents rush to get their children, and then get perturbed with safety procedures and do not want to wait.
- Forcing a child to go to a class they don’t want to – It is very sad to see a child cry as a parent shoves them in a room and runs. Oh yeah, this happens.
- Making them sit through a sermon they can’t understand – We’ve all seen children fidget through an adult service.
- Picking them up late – It is heartbreaking to sit with a crying child after all the other children have already been picked up.
- Not staying with them when you’re asked to do so – I have seen countless children beg their parents to attend a family service with them while the parents get mad, yell at their child, and drag them away. This is by far one of the most gut-wrenching scenes to witness.
- Getting mad at the children’s volunteers - Children’s ministry volunteers are some of the most loving people on the planet. They get very little recognition, but show up with a smile week after week. Certainly their crowns will be the biggest in heaven. How a parent can yell at these wonderful people is beyond me, but it happens. I once witnessed a mom yell at the sweetest 70 something volunteer for giving her child a piece of candy. Really?
Each week I see children running to get into the children’s program at our church. Watching kids have fun while at church is a blessing beyond blessings. Find a place for your child to have fun while they worship God.
Did you know that an overwhelming percentage of church kids are walking away from the faith within a year of graduation from high school? Do not let your child be an unfortunate statistic. Get involved with their spiritual growth and make it your mission to make church fun and a place they look forward to going.
And always be sure to thank the children’s ministry team. Better yet, get involved yourself, which would speak volumes to your child.