Giving Your Children a Better Why: The Primary Purpose of Going to Church

“Because I said so!” 

Every young child asks a million “why” questions (and teenagers pick the question back up again). Why? Because they want to understand. They are figuring it all out. Christian parents often hear, “Why do we go to church?” I want my children to know that our weekly gathering as believers is primarily about the worship of God, and secondarily, the love of others.   

Many weekly gatherings of church bodies seem to either focus on believers or unbelievers as their primary target. Why do we gather weekly? Is it to be fed on God’s Word, or to seek and attract non-believers? 

The weekly gathering of the saints is primarily for the corporate worship of God through the finished work of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and for ministry to one another 

As a Christian parent, I believe that both the explicit regular teaching of this truth and the living it out are two of my primary responsibilities to my children. Why? 

Going to Church is Biblical

The Bible is the Word of God and therefore articulates reality for all of life: Life is about God, what he has done, what he is doing, and what he is going to do. Our pluralistic and relativistic age articulates a deceptive view of reality: Life is about me, what I have done, what I am doing, and what I get to do. The former is true, and the latter is false. 

Every person was made to be God-centered; therefore our weekly gathering as God’s people is to be centered on God. The world teaches us that every gathering and experience should be about us, but the Bible teaches us that church should be about God and others.  

Hebrews 10:24-25 invites us to “… consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (see also Acts 2:42, Col. 3:16, 1 Tim. 4:13 and Ps. 95:1-3).

Throughout Scripture we see an emphasis on God’s people praising him for who he is, the need for us to receive his word regularly, and the need for us to encourage and love one another, all in and through Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

It is The Best “Why”   

Our children’s future commitment to the local church is in the Lord’s hands. Many parents have taught their children why they go to church, lived like they believe what they’ve taught, and now grieve that their adult children do not desire to commit to a local community of saints. Results and timing are always in the Lord’s hands. 

Most of our strategies for attracting people back to the church presuppose that the weekly gathering of the local body of Christ needs to be more about the people and their preferences. While these efforts might draw crowds and excitement, if the primary purpose for the gathering is to appease preferences or appeal to the desires of the people coming, it will not be God-centered.  

Ways to Shepherd Your Children

Teach the purpose: As much as you can, teach your children that the weekly gathering is primarily about worshipping the triune God, and secondarily about loving others. 

Confess when you stop believing the purpose: When you start to think, “Man, I really did not get anything out of church this morning,” confess to your kids that you started to make worship about you and your preferences. We all do it. Don’t lead your family down a path that makes the weekly gathering self-centered. 

Disciple with the purpose in view: Use the purpose of the weekly gathering to guide your questions with your family. What about God did you enjoy most, or were you most thankful for this morning? Who were you able bless or encourage this morning?

Encourage with purpose: Use the purpose of the weekly gathering to encourage your kids: “Hey buddy, I saw you taking notes today, that is awesome that you are listening to the Lord.”

Live the purpose: Do not allow the weekly gathering of believers to take a backseat to the family schedule. May your absence be uncommon.  

Enjoy the primary purpose: The pressure is off for you to “make” the weekly gathering appealing to your kids or anyone else. Praise God that we get a gathering each week that is not centered on man, but on the finished work of Jesus Christ!  

Behind the “why” question is a child wondering, “Is the weekly gathering worth my time?” Parents, we have to first believe it is worth our time, not because of the product we consume, but because of the King we worship.  

If the weekly gathering is primarily about the worship of God and the love of others, then the answer is an easy and emphatic, “yes!” 

Notice how I am using the word “primary.” You’ve heard the expression “If you aim for the moon you get the stars.” Well, if your primary purpose for gathering weekly with a community of believers is the worship of God and the love of others, your family will be fed and edified in ways you could never have imagined.

Our weekly worship service is a response to the grace of God, a foretaste of the heavenly assembly where we will all ascribe glory to God in unison. There we unite in worship over the finished work of Christ. We feast on God’s word. We partake in communion. We witness baptisms. 

We go to church because God is worthy of our worship; we love him because what he has done for us through Christ’s birth, life, death, and resurrection. The weekly corporate worship of God through the finished work of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, is worth our lives, because Christ gave his life for us. 

Interested in learning more about gospel-centered parenting? Join us for our 2023 Rooted Conference in Nashville, TN. This year, we are offering a single-day ticket for Saturday’s two featured speakers, and two parenting workshops, as well as worship and fellowship, for those who are unable to join for the whole three-day conference. 

Joey is married to Jenny (his high school sweetheart) and is a father to four amazing kids. He serves as the Pastor of Missions and Adult Ministries at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek, OH. Prior to his current role Joey was a Student Ministry Pastor for 9 years. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, has a Master of Arts in Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is currently working towards in M.Div. through Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.

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