Keeping Our Kids in Church After They Leave the Nest: 4 Ways to Build A Connection

Vacation bible study last year

Vacation bible study last year

Ephesians 4:16

From whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

I was reading some statistics awhile back about how once children leave their parent’s house many of them also leave behind church, which is unfortunate since we know that once they’re out there in the world they really need to rely on that spiritual foundation and  fellowship that comes with attending church. Right now, Anya is 9 and she loves church, but will it be the same when she is 16 or 18? I hope so, but I’m not naieve to the reality that kids change and outside social factors can be a big influence on our kids once mom isn’t waking them up on Sunday morning. So what do we do?

I think we need to make church more than an obligation on Sundays. Our kids need to feel intimately connected with church if we expect them to continue going without our prompting.  Church is a blessing because it is there we can learn about scripture, fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ and  serve as the body of Christ. These three things are key to connecting to the church. Here are some ideas on how to get your kids connected to the church:

1)  Take them to church joyfully!-Okay this seems like a no brainer, but think about what your attitude about going to church says to you kids. Are Sunday mornings a mad rush with everyone screaming and hurried? Or do you plan for Sunday and look forward to church? When you’re attitude is one of care and joy about  attending church, you’re teaching them to prepare their hearts and minds for a special day. You’re creating good memories associated with church that will last beyond the 18 years you have them at home.

2) Find ways for them to serve the church– Our church will sometimes ask for help cleaning previously, I’ve volunteered and took Anya with me to help clean the pews. This was a great experience for both of us. She’s also helped me decorate for the Teacher’s Appreciation Dinner.  Teaching our kids to take care of the place they worship shows respect and love through their service. In serving the church they serve the body of Christ and it becomes more clear to them on how they are connected and the importance of working together as members of the church.

3) Get involved in church- Youth programs in church are such a blessing and is one of the easiest ways your children can connect with the church, fellowship and make friends. Look into the youth programs at your church and if there isn’t one talk to your pastor and other members of the congregation who have kids to get one started. For example, my church has a bible bowl, a vacation bible study and kids classes on Wednesday and Sunday all of which really promote not only bonds but a love for church.

4) Develop and nurture mentoring in kids at church- Encourage your kids to mentor other children in church and keep an eye open for older kids that can be a mentor to your kids. Anya has been helping the 2-3 year old’s teacher in her Wednesday bible study class and I can tell she really feels like she’s participating and has a responsibility to be a role model to the younger kids. Building these strong bonds encourage them to seek that later in life.

Church is personal and I’m not saying if your child decides not to go to church when they are older that they don’t love God. But, being part of a community and the body of Christ is a blessing that I want my daughter to experience even if she’s miles away. It is that community that can support her, give her godly advice, and a place to be when home is far away. When kids view church as more than a building or an obligation they develop a deeper and more meaningful understanding of how church is a home to them and hopefully they continue to go because the desire to go resides in their heart.

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