By the time our family started to go to a church regularly and become members, encouraging us to delve deeper into our faith, 2 out of our 4 children were already in the teenager and preteen stage of life. This meant they had a much different outlook on church as their younger siblings did. After all, our 3 year old's familiarity with church was going to the nursery where she was able to play for about 45 minutes to an hour, our six-year-old who was familiar with school went to children's church where she was educated with movies, crafts, singing and different activities geared towards children.
A little back story, while my husband was deployed/ out of state at school when the older two children were little, they had the same interest in church as the younger children. They were happy with games, movies, stories, activities and treats they didn't mind going to church with me every once in awhile on Sunday. I was nowhere near ready to go to church full time without my husband. So, when it came time to start to go to church again after a long hiatus (2 additional children, a mother who needed my full time care and lived with us as well as my husband now home for good), I decided that it was time to go back to church. I knew I was a Christian and I was in the need for support from an outside source.
The problem, I felt bad about dragging my teenage son to church. I often let him sleep in or he would graciously accept my mother staying home with him, so I could enjoy church without having to drag around additional person with me. I was bummed, I wanted him to share in the experiences that I was having. Then came the time that my husband was finally able to attend church with us on a full-time basis. He normally worked 12 hours on Sunday, so going to church for him was completely out of the question. I still felt bad about dragging my older two children to church.
Our oldest daughter seemed to find her way around going to church, she became familiar with church leaders because she was part of the GEMS program on Wednesday night. She also, quite often, helped me with vacation Bible School and Sunday school, but our son was something different. I truly felt like I was forcing him to do something that he just did not want to do. He told me that he was not even sure he believed in God. I was okay with this (sorta), but I just wanted my son to share in the experience that I was having. I wanted him to be with me
So finally I asked another couple, who had teenage children. ”How do you get your kids to go to church,” I asked
Their answer was simple,”they go whether they like it or not.”
Now, I know this doesn't seem fair when you're trying to give your kids autonomy, but the fact of the matter is, while you were under my roof, you are going to go to church with me. This is not because I want to force you into believing what I believe, but because I want to be with you. I also do believe this, how are you to make an educated decision if you do not get the chance to go to church? If you choose that God is not something that you believe in then let that worldview come from educating yourself, not a whim.
Lastly, I laid it out on the line for them. I am your mother and I do a lot for you. I love doing a lot for you, I love driving you to and from your boy scouts, your band practices, your Choir concerts, your GEMS activities and any other activity that includes you finding joy. I have no issue doing these things, so the least your can do for me is give me part of your morning on Sunday to be together as a family, listen to the preacher’s sermon, if you have questions ask your mother and father. If we can't answer, we most certainly will allow you to ask a question of the pastor. We do not want our children to blindly follow in our faith, but seek God on their own, through their own choices.