For more articles from Pastor Julia please visit here website at www.ministrymom.ca.
Although I’m a pastor by vocation, my love for the church started long before I was hired in an official capacity. Growing up in the home of pastors, my life has long centered around the church and its various activities. While many kids who grow up in pastor’s homes saw the church as a burden or harsh taskmaster, I absolutely loved church and everything about it.
I loved sitting in the front pew and hearing my parents preach from the pulpit.
I loved getting to hang out in my dad’s office and skim through the pages of his giant books.
I loved our children’s programs, getting to sit with the teenagers before youth started and I had to go to sleep, and I loved it when my mom would come home and show us a project from her night at women’s ministry.
I’m thankful for parents that instilled in my heart a love for God, and beyond that, a love for the local church. The local churches we served in were like extended family to us – and I was thrilled to be a part of it.
As positive as my experience with church was as a child, teenager, and still is today, I know many people who don’t have the love for church that I do. Some have been deeply hurt by the church, and want nothing to do with it. Others think that church is boring or irrelevant to their lives. Still others don’t see it as a family-friendly place – but rather one for seniors who have nothing better to do with their time.
While I understand all these thoughts (and many of them have just cause), they do make me sad. I love the church – it is dear to my heart – and my heart as a pastor (and just a fan of local church) – is to see families connected and thriving within churches in whatever community they find themselves calling home.
So why church? Why does it matter – or why should it matter – to you?
If you’ve been following along with my recent blog posts, you’ll know that I believe as parents, we are called to love our children well and invest in their lives. A part of this investment (in fact, I believe the most important part), is guiding them towards a relationship with God. While much of this guidance and discipleship happens within the home, I believe that the church is part of God’s design for this guidance as well. In my mind, the church is the bigger Family that our individual families are meant to be a part of.
Church is intended to be a place for us to connect with God – through worship and the Word.
It’s intended to be a place for us to connect with other people on this journey to serve God.
Church should be a place where we can be prayed for and pray for others, be encouraged and be an encouragement, serve and be served.
I believe that God designed for the church to be a place that bears our burdens when we are struggling, celebrates with us when we have victories, and cries with us on days that are hard.
There should be no place we feel more loved, accepted, and at home than within the group of people we call our local church.
That doesn’t mean that church is always easy – with little ones, even just getting there can be half the battle. Once you do get there, there may be Sundays that the music doesn’t mesh with your style, your kids act up, or the message goes over your head. Maybe your church doesn’t offer the programs for kids you wish it would, or maybe you’re the youngest people there by decades.
I understand your struggle. It’s not always easy.
But worthwhile things rarely are.
Even if your church is imperfect, keep showing up. Keep plugging in, keep serving, and keep connecting. Attend the imperfect kids’ programs, sit in the nursery with a few toys that are broken, and sing along with the songs that may be a little out of tune. As you continue to show up, your children will learn that God shows up amongst imperfect people. They will learn that the church isn’t about entertainment or comfort or perfection – but about faithfully showing up and connecting with God and believers.
If your church is a great one, keep showing up. Celebrate with your kids the things they’re learning and digging into in the amazing programs. Lift your hands, sing loudly and clap along with the music you’ve grown to love. Take notes on your pastor’s sermons and tell him or her that you’ve enjoyed the message. Find a place to serve. As you continue to show up, your children will learn that Church is a place that can be fun and relevant to their lives. They will learn that Church is about growing deeper in a relationship with God through any means possible.
And if you don’t have a local church, I encourage you to find one. While attending church isn’t absolutely necessary for discipling your family, it certainly helps. I believe God intended for us to live in community, and the church is His way of providing that for us. Do a Google search, type it into your Facebook search bar, and look for churches in your area. Do research on the churches, what they believe, and what they offer for families like yours, and then, show up.
If you’re a church leader, you need to show up too. Show up for families and let them know you’re in their corner.
Let that mom walking in late with her littles know that she is seen and important with an embrace after the service or a warm smile from the platform as she walks in.
Make space for children and teenagers in your services so that they – and their parents – know that they matter.
Serve families in every capacity you possibly can – with programs, with resources, but most importantly, with support and with love.
Be sure your church is a family church – it is needed, it is valued and it can impact the course of a family’s life forever.
It matters if you’re a parent, and it matters if you’re a pastor.
So show up – in whatever role you’re in,
and let’s do church together.