By Pastor Lee Young
I wear many hats as a youth pastor here at Summerland Baptist church. It just comes with the territory. I am a worship leader, youth pastor, mentor, friend, preacher, teacher, taxi driver, and most importantly; a husband and father. Whenever I am asked to write blog post I always seem to attack it from the youth pastor perspective and to be fair, that is appropriate. Today I would like to share from a husband and father perspective, understanding I can never really take off the youth pastor hat… even if I tried.
Sunday mornings can be difficult as a family of 7. Grandma, Father, Mother, high school daughter, middle school son, and 2 sons in elementary. To get this diverse crew rolling in the morning, especially on Sunday’s, can be a challenge. The logistics of 2 staff members who have Sunday morning responsibilities and still getting kids ready for church can be challenging. It is easy for both Bree and I, as our kids become more independent, to focus solely on the church tasks rather than preparing our family for worship. Now, add the pressure of 3 boys in hockey which means Sunday morning games and tourney’s.
In spite of all these pressures and difficulties, we still manage to make the majority of Sunday morning worship services as a whole family. Not because we are on staff, but because we made a commitment when our kids were young that we would make church a priority. We decided that the job of teaching the importance and passing on our passion for worshipping together with our church family was our responsibility, not the churches. This meant we needed to be together as a family, all together at the same time. We treat it a little like an apprenticeship. We teach our kids to sit and listen but we also take time to teach why that is important. We encourage engagement in the service and we teach why that’s important. We encourage them to sit with friends from time to time, and we teach why that is important. We answer questions about what is happening, while it’s happening, if appropriate, and after church if it is not.
My job allows me insight and opportunity to read the latest stats on faith development in teens and young adults. All the research continues to show that there is a direct correlation between church attendance and long term faith development. The lower the attendance, the higher probability that they will walk away from church at some point in their lives. The higher the attendance the lower the probability they walk away from the church.
Knowing these things and doing something about it is more difficult than it seems. We, like every other family, have many things that can pull any one of us away on a Sunday morning. We have kids that do not sit well…I don’t sit well!! We have kids that want to be anywhere but the sanctuary some Sunday’s. It is easy to get a few of us to church but our commitment was to go as an entire family. To worship together, to sit together, to pray together, to learn together. We teach our children the importance of worshipping and learning together as a church family by doing it with them as consistently as possible. We also give them the opportunity to be loved by you, our church family. In all the places we have worshipped our children have inherited uncles and aunts, grandpa’s and grandma’s, cousins, brothers and sisters. They have church family in 3 provinces that care for them as they would their own. To know that they are loved is a major blessing that only develops over time. Time spent together in worship and fellowship.
My challenge and encouragement to all of you as parents, of teens or young children, is it's never too late to start making church a priority. Talk to your kids about why you love to worship together with others. Tell them what you learned from the sermon or music or prayer time. Ask them what they thought was good in the service, their answers may surprise you! Engage with them and model for them what being a part of a church family looks like. Thank you for already making our family feel at home as we worship and learn with you.