If Church Wasn’t Optional

It’s a typical Tuesday morning.  You’ve gone in your son’s bedroom 3 times to rouse him from the slumber he has succumbed to.  You’ve gently nudged him, you’ve removed all his covers, and you’ve even sent his younger brother in to get him.  At this point the kiss of a beautiful princess wouldn’t break whatever spell he’s under.  As the minutes tick away to a timely departure, he finally emerges in a zombielike state.  You do this for his own good.  Making sure he has a healthy breakfast before heading off to school.  More than your dreams of him becoming a famous neurosurgeon, you just want him to be successful with his life.  Education is a key part of that no matter how much he complains about homework and lack of sleep.  But he doesn’t care.  In his life, Call of Duty and basketball are much more important than Algebra and Chemistry.

Flash forward to the weekend.  You’ve all survived another week.  As you stand in the kitchen with your cup of coffee you contemplate whether to go to church or stay home.  You want everyone in the family to go to church, but you can’t bring yourself to make them get out of bed.  After all, the kids were up late with friends and need the down time to recharge from a week of homework and sports practice.  They don’t want to get up and go to church.  And who can blame them.  It’s so early at 10:00am.  You wish the kids were more involved in church, and the church should really do something about that.  Make programs more teen friendly.  Maybe some pyrotechnics during worship or at least a Pastor who wore blue jeans and knew how to use references to Rihanna in his sermon.  Until then, it’s just not that important.

What if we approached church the same way we approach school?  Sure over the years discoveries of how the human mind evolves throughout the course of life have changed the way we teach.  And there are teachers and subjects that connect with some students better than others.  But what if we looked at school education as an optional part of our life much the way we look at church.  Think if your son/daughter came to you and said “I’m not doing my chemistry homework anymore.  It’s hard and it keeps me from hanging out with my friends”.  Now there are some parents in the world who would say “Sure, you don’t need chemistry in life anyway.  Forget it.”  Then there are those parents who would say “No, you have to try.  Regardless of the grade you have to put in the work”.

Please don’t get this wrong.  This isn’t a political statement to enact more religious curriculum or nationalize programs.  Church is optional and choosing Jesus Christ as your personal savior shouldn’t be obligatory.  Every person should have the right to choose religion or not.   But as a parent, you have more control over that scenario than just giving up and saying “The church failed”.  I never had the option of skipping church because I felt like it growing up any more than I had the option of skipping school.

I’ve had several parents over the years come to me and say “If only you could do more to make my son/daughter want to come to church” or “I wish the church would make high school ministry a priority and make it more convenient for them to come.”  My first response is “Between basketball, cheerleading, homework, playing video games, and hanging out with friends when would a convenient time be?”  My next thought is “When have YOU made high school ministry a priority for your student?”

School isn’t easy, and church is often boring.  But would you go to your PTA meeting and say “I’m tired of forcing my student to get out of bed every day.  What are we doing to make the classroom more entertaining so students WANT to come to school? And how can we make it more convenient for them?”

Reality Check here.  My job isn’t convenient for me.  My family isn’t convenient for me.  My ministry isn’t convenient for me.  And a 42 hour day still wouldn’t give me enough time do all the things I HAVE to do along with all the things I WANT to do.

It’s all an excuse.  We make time for the things that are truly important to us.  We do the things for those we love to make their lives better.  There are a lot of bad parents out there who takes the enforcement of “What’s good for you” to unhealthy levels and drive more people away from their “family values” than they actually nurture them.  But for the average person who just doesn’t want to get out of bed to go to church, yet laments their lack of spiritual connectivity, stop it.  You’re making excuses.  Treat it like it weren’t optional the same as getting up at 5am to train for a marathon.  Put the effort in and see what the results are.

2 thoughts on “If Church Wasn’t Optional

  1. SO true. Kids learn to appreciate things only when they see them being appreciated by those around them. They may not appreciate school now, but they will have a much greater respect for it when they are grown and have a good, stable job because of their education. In the same way, many kids will not appreciate taking time out of their weekend to go to church until they get that relationship with God for themselves. I was tremendously blessed – my parents expected me to be ready for church every Sunday morning and evening, every Wednesday night for Bible study/youth, and ready to go to any youth functions that were made available. Because of that, I learned things about God that I might have missed out on, and I have a deep and abiding relationship with and love for Him.

    We have to be the models for our kids. Like the song says, “Cause I’ve been watching you dad, ain’t that cool/…We’ll be just alike, hey won’t we dad/ When I can do everything you do/ Cause I’ve been watching you.”

    Great post!


    • Thank you for the comments. I always reflect on the parents connectivity to church when they come to me about their children. I’ve felt that many times it’s their own longing for someone to connect them to church as well. Have a great day.


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