When kids find church boring and stupid

Interesting reflections from Pete Enns on how, looking back, he might not have been so strict about forcing his kids to always go to church every Sunday:

I believe in religious instruction for children, but the trick is finding some way to make it feel more like a joy than a twenty-pound weight tied to a seven-year-old’s back, another hyper-structured chore to do, another box of duties to check off in a day’s work…

…As parents we were told about the seriousness of getting our kids to come to church so they can be taught. Well, we did and they were. And in retrospect, I would like to think there is a better way. Yes, they were taught. But they caught a lot, too. And you know what they say about more things being caught than taught.

I have so much I am grateful for from growing up going to church each week. That said, I was one of those freak kids who almost always enjoyed it. I know countless people who were bored senseless and never returned once they were old enough to choose for themselves.

As a parent now to two young girls, I do know that I agree completely with Pete about wanting church to feel like a joy and not a chore. So far, our unusual, community focussed, something-different-every-Sunday approach at Mosaic has meant our girls love church and are disappointed when we’re away or can’t go for some reason.

I hope that will always be the case. But if the time comes when week after week, they are finding their church experience a burden rather than a delight, I’d rather give them freedom than weighing them down further by forcing something they don’t want.

Forcing people to do something that bores them or that they don’t want to do is rarely a good strategy for winning people over. Our kids are more likely to stay engaged in church if we first create vibrant, interesting, and engaging churches, and if we then give them the age-appropriate freedom to make choices for themselves.

Originally published at www.samradford.com.

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