By Shawn McMullen
I know many Christian parents who are deeply committed to raising children who know and love God. They read books, search for helps on the web, and frequently talk to other Christian parents. Some attend weekend seminars and retreats led by popular authors and speakers. They’re always on the lookout for helpful material and insights.
In additon to these, Christian parents have another valuable—and nearby—resource to help them raise godly kids. I’m referring to the local church. What help can they expect to find there? Here are a few suggestions.
By design, the church exists to teach people. For two millennia it has taught families—and specifically Christian parents—how to build solid spiritual, moral, and ethical foundations in the home. The qualities necessary for peace and respect in the home, the attitudes that foster a spirit of love, acceptance, and forgiveness, have all come through the teaching of the church. Practical issues such as improving husband and wife relationships, guiding and nurturing children, and dealing with life’s difficulties are key elements in the church’s teaching.
There’s no better place to find examples of healthy families than in the church. Should we expect every family in the church to be a model family? No. Those of us who are a part of a church are there because we realize we aren’t perfect and we need help. But of all the places you may choose to look, the church is where you will find the greatest number of people living respectfully and in harmony with one another. The church is the ideal place for young parents to learn from older parents.
The local church provides a model of unity in diversity. People of varied backgrounds come together here to share their common faith, their common goals, and their common struggles. Parents who are hurting, frustrated, and confused—or simply in need of a friend—can find support and encouragement in personal relationships established through the church.
Kids need to be with friends. They need to feel accepted and involved. The local church helps meet these needs in a variety of ways. When our children were involved in the youth activities of our church, we felt confident about the level of supervision they received and the quality of the activities they participated in. Many churches plan activities that bring the entire family together as well.
Teaching children to serve God and others helps them grow into mature Christians and responsible citizens. And what better place to learn the importance of service than the local church? Whether through community service projects, short-term mission trips, or simple acts of daily service, involving kids in the ministry of the church reinforces many of the key values godly parents want to instill in them.
Raising faithful children is one of the most important things Christian parents can do in their lifetime. And tapping into the resources of the local church is one of the best ways to do it.