Parents Just Go to Church

By Cameron Cole, writer for the Gospel Coalition

At a Fortune 500 corporation, many interests and demands consume the company’s time and resources. How does an executive choose what opportunities to prioritize? The same is true for Christian parents. Tremendous resources exist for discipling kids: devotionals, catechisms, and guides for family worship. Parents are paralyzed when confronted with all the good options. Where do we start?

Hear me when I say this: start by going to church. Yes, I encourage you to pray with your kids. Read the Bible as a family. Attempt to have family worship. Use a catechism. These are all excellent disciplines. But if you can only choose one discipline, go to church. Make attending corporate worship the top priority for your family. There’s nothing more positive you can do for your children than to attend corporate worship at your church every week.

Corporate Worship Sets the Tone for Life

A parent in our church once made a statement that caught me off guard: “Corporate worship is crucial to my family. It’s the center of our family’s life.” I know this family. They do family worship as well, and they read devotions, but this father said corporate worship is the single biggest priority in his family’s life. Why?

If you can only choose one discipline, go to church. Make attending corporate worship the top priority for your family.

This dad’s mentality is consistent with how Scripture prioritizes corporate worship. God is the center of our lives. In corporate worship, we make this clear. We receive God’s grace through Word, sacrament, and prayer. We respond to God’s grace with praise, thanksgiving, and love. We fellowship with him under his Word and by his grace. We serve, worship, and flourish out of that communion. In these ways, corporate worship is the whole Christian life in distilled and concentrated form.

God commands his people to meet for worship weekly (Deut. 5:12; Heb. 10:25). It’s not optional or a matter of preference, and this is God’s mercy toward us. God knows how badly we need the benefits of meeting together. God doesn’t need our worship. We, on the other hand, desperately need corporate worship to center and order our lives around the Lord.

It’s Hard to Get to Church. That’s the Point.

Nothing can prepare you for the labor that is getting small children out the door to church on a Sunday morning. I don’t know if it’s spiritual warfare or whiplash from the weekend, but dressing small kids and loading them into the car is a grind. Even when your kids are teenagers, there are days they seem to resist just about anything you suggest. Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.

Daily fellowship with and service to the Lord involve a purposeful, deliberate approach. Getting up in the morning to pray and read Scripture isn’t easy. Praising God in times of pain and sorrow can be a struggle. Entering conflict, repenting, and engaging in reconciliation requires effort, purpose, and patience. But however difficult these endeavors are, we find life and peace as a result. The intentional effort we make to attend corporate worship each week reinforces for our kids the patterns of intentionality and endurance necessary for a fulfilling and fruitful Christian life.

Model Unflinching Commitment to Sunday Worship

When I was a kid, we went to church every single week, even on vacation. I often complained about it (though I liked the donuts they served at Sunday school). I asked my father, “Why can’t we take a week off?” My old-school Dad would always reply in the same gruff Southern drawl, “Son, God gives us seven days a week. We can sacrifice one morning for him.” The only other “religious thing” we did in our household was pray at meals. Still, my Dad’s maxim and our consistent church attendance made a major impression.

Getting to church is hard. But that’s part of the value of attending church every Sunday. It sets the tone for the Christian’s daily struggle to live in personal relationship with Christ.

When I left for college, this pattern was deeply embedded in my life. I was usually the only person on my hall who attended church on Sunday, but I’d get up and go. When I traveled and missed Sunday morning church, I’d go to a campus service that night.

My family’s commitment to Sunday worship communicated major truths to me: God is the center of life. God is worthy of praise and worship. The Christian life requires sacrifice and discipline. My father rarely talked to me about spiritual matters; I don’t think he had a vast vocabulary for such conversations. Still, he modeled the Christian life well, largely through his unflinching commitment to go to church every Sunday.

If you feel inadequate to lead your kids spiritually, just go to church. If strategizing about your Christian parenting feels overly complicated, just go to church. If you’ve been taking a few too many Sundays off, just go to church. If all of this seems overwhelmingly difficult, ask God to give you the grace to have this consistent discipline in your family’s life. Faithful church attendance can have an eternal influence on your kids.

Jesus Saves Villains: Read Romans to Your Kids

Story by Joanna Kimbrel

Believe it or not, the elementary-age children you parent, teach, and care for are ready for the book of Romans. It’s true that Paul’s letter to the Romans is notoriously intimidating. It covers topics like sin, election, and justification that can be difficult to grasp and accept whatever your age. Even Peter said some things in Paul’s letters are difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:16), and Romans is Paul’s longest and arguably his most theologically dense epistle.

But though Romans doesn’t seem kid-friendly, it tells an adventurous story of peril and rescue. The book of Romans is about a hero. But not just any hero—the greatest hero of all time. He’s the hero who frees people from slavery, defeats the Devil, and even brings the dead back to life. He’s a hero who came to save villains!

Though Romans doesn’t seem kid-friendly, it tells an adventurous story of peril and rescue.

Wait a minute. Save villains? Isn’t the hero supposed to fight against the bad guys? What kind of story is this! It’s the story your kids need. It’s the story we all need.

Still intimidated? Here are three truths you can point out to kids as you read the book of Romans together.

1. You might not think you’re a villain, but you are.

What if I told you you’re a villain? That’s right. You’re the bad guy, and so am I. Every person in the whole world has the same big problem—sin. In fact, this problem is so big that Paul spends chapters 1–­3 telling us about it. As you read, explain to kids that we sin when we disobey God. This makes us God’s enemies, the bad guys! We sin with our actions, our thoughts, and our hearts. We see our sin when we want to do things our way instead of God’s way. We see our sin when we want to hurt someone or take something that doesn’t belong to us. We see our sin when we’re unkind to others and always want to be first.

Why is sin such a big problem? Because in our sin, we love and worship things more than God. And sin has big consequences. The payment for our sin is death (Rom. 6:23). To live forever with God, we must become one of the good guys. We must be righteous—perfectly holy and right with God—but no one is righteous. Not one person (Rom. 3:10). This means every one of us deserves to die. Yes, that’s a big problem.

2. The good news is Jesus loves us even though we’re villains.

Instead of fighting against us, the greatest hero fights for us. He changes us from bad guys to good guys, from enemies to family. Jesus offers a perfect solution to our big problem. He offers himself! Even though we’re bad guys, he loves us and rescues us. Point out to your kids all the places in Romans that talk about the salvation we have in Jesus Christ (there are a lot of them). Remind the kids that Jesus was the only righteous person who never sinned. Tell them that Jesus didn’t deserve to die as we do, but he died in our place so we don’t have to. Jesus gives us his righteousness so we can live with God forever (Rom. 6:23).

Isn’t the hero supposed to fight against the bad guys? What kind of story is this!

How do we get Jesus’s righteousness? By trusting him (Rom. 1:16-17; 4:5). Explain to kids that having faith in Jesus means believing that he’s the Son of God who died for us and trusting him to save us from our sins. If we have faith in Jesus, he takes all our sin and gives us his perfect record. That’s really good news!

3. Jesus changes our villainous hearts and helps us serve others.

Jesus loves us when we’re bad guys and turns us into good guys. The gospel is the good news that those who trust Jesus will live with God forever, but it’s also the good news that Jesus changes hearts right now. Romans 12–16 tells how our lives should be different because of Jesus. Tell kids that when we trust Christ, he makes us new (Rom. 6:4).

Jesus saved us, so now we can love him and obey him (Rom. 12:1–2). When kids trust Jesus, it should change the way they obey their parents and teachers, treat their friends and siblings, and deal with disappointment. We can love others even if they act like bad guys toward us (Rom. 12). We obey God by obeying the people he put in charge (Rom. 13). We don’t always need to get what we want—we can give up things we want to show love to other people (Rom. 14). Jesus is the reason we want to obey, and he is the reason we can.

So pick up your Bible and read the book of Romans with the children in your care. Show them the Savior who saves even his enemies. And let God’s grace capture their imaginations and hearts. Help them to see their need for Jesus, the good news of his salvation, and the way he changes our lives.

Editors’ note: 

Read more from Joanna Kimbrel in her new kids’ book, The Greatest Hero: The Book of Romans(Kaleidoscope Books, October 2022).

Theodulf Alcuin 735-804

Alcuin became an architect in the Carolingian renaissance establishing schools and libraries that spread the literacy among the Franks and preserved important historic and literary documents.The following prayer reflects this Christian scholars devotion to God and desire for wisdom

Eternal Light shine into our hearts, Eternal Goodness, Deliver us from evil, Eternal Power be our support, Eternal Wisdom scatter the darkness of our ignorance, Eternal Pity have mercy upon us that with all our heart and mind and souls and strength we may seek thy Face and be brought by thine infinite mercy to thy holy presence through Jesus Christ our Lord Amen

From the book Turning Points by Mark A Noll , Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity