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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Church, School and Baseball

Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. ~C.S. Lewis

As my children have gotten older over the years I see a common trend with many of their friends. Around age nine or so, many if not most seem to lose interest in attending church services. I know I did around that age. There are dozens more things many of us at any age would rather do on what is our only day off more many of us. But, like our jobs or school or anything else of extreme importance, we go. Sad, that it equates down to that sometimes, but it does. What I find surprising, almost shocking to me, is that while mom and sometimes dad force themselves to go, they give their young children the choice of whether or not to attend!

I am not speaking here about a family who only recently started to attend church, or forcing a child to take on to a religion that they haven't been brought up on, I am talking about families that from infancy have been bringing their children to church. It's just what they do on Sunday mornings, like other important things in life like school, work, sports, etc...

When I ask my dear friends why they don't insist their child come to church I almost always get the following answer: " I don't want to force them to come, then they will learn to not like church and see it as a chore."

I can almost see the logic in that one, really...BUT...Do you not "force" them to go to school Monday through Friday? Do you not "force" them to stick out their music lessons, sports involvements or other things you as a family find important?

IF you claim to be a Christian, isn't your faith at least as important as these other items you "force" your child to attend to?(really, it should be the MOST important thing if your claiming Christianity as your faith!)

Does "forcing" your dear little child to attend school make them hate school? Well, in my case it sure did, I loathed school with a passion, but you know what? I still went, it was just one of those things I "had" to do and I am appreciative of that fact now as I understand the value of an education. Did I "hate" my parents at the time? Sure I did. Do I hate them today? No, as I just explained I appreciate that I was required or "forced" to attend.

With four boys, we have had plenty of time put in on the Little League field. One thing I often see is little Johnny start to get bored with being on the team or not wanting to attend practice as often as required. I also see very committed and deligent parents "force" Johnny to continue even though he clearly no longer desires to. They go on about "commitment" and responsibility to the team. Yet these are the same parents who profess to be Christians and attend church faithfully, while leaving nine year old Johnny at home because they don't want to "force" him to attend.

Now, I am not saying you can't be a Christian unless you attend church. Looking back over my life, I realize the 2-3 years I was NOT in church was the time of my life I actually felt closest to God. That's when I did the most seeking of him and was most actively involved in reading His Word. Like one of my favorite quotes says "Going to Church Doesn't Make You a Christian Any More Than Standing in a Garage Makes You a Car." But for those families that do put a significance on going to church, yet let their young children stay home, I don't understand why they will force little Johnny to go to a school he hates, continue on a sports team he has no desire to be on, play an instrument that he doesn't appreciate, yet they wont require him to attend church for one hour one day a week!!!!!

I agree that at a certain age, you should give your children some freedom in choosing for themselves if they will take on your faith as their own. As my oldest son reached his late teens, we required he be involved at least once a month in some sort of faith based activity but gave him the freedom to seek out for himself, what and where that would be. By that time though, he was already working and paying most of his own expenses, and had already started the enlistment process of joining the US Navy. I figure if he's old enough for those sorts of responsibilities he's old enough to make the majority of his own choices for his life. Would I let him make any of those choices at nine or ten? NO!!

School IS very important, teaching a child to see a commitment through whether it be sports, or music is important too. These things help shape their character and they type of people they will grow up to be. But if you claim Christianity as your faith, that is of ETERNAL importance! If you're not taking little Johnny to church, are you doing Bible Study at home? Devotions? Anything? If not, you may want to re-examine your priorities.

I know I have several non-Christian friends who feel children shouldn't be forced to attend church or have their parents faith forced upon them, and I can understand that point of view to a certain extent, but again I ask should those same parents force their child to attend school even though the child doesn't see the worth in it? As parents we all have to make choices for our own families, all I am saying, is to check yourself and be sure they are lining up with what you are professing to claim is important in your own life and family.

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