April 4, 2011

Why We Make Church a Priority

...And How We've Made it Work
A friend recently posted about this very topic, which got my wheels turning...
Why DO we make church a priority in our family?  
It was a question that needed attention.
Sometimes we get into the habit of something without digging deep into the heart of the reasoning.

We choose to make church a priority not only for the obvious reasons of being spiritually fed and the fellowship, but also because of our responsibility to others and obedience to Christ.

Notice I used the present tense "choose."  It is an open invitation each week from the Creator.  That's humbling enough, isn't it?
Each week, we have the option of choosing to go or stay home.
Sleep in, or get up.
I am always blown away with the excuse of "we have a hard time getting up so early for church."  How does their boss feel about that on weekdays?  How do their children's teachers respond when they drop them off late at school and the excuse is "we have a hard time getting up in the morning"?  Making church a priority  is all about choices.

If my children see me making church an option, rather than a priority, I am teaching that very concept: church is optional.
Have a golf game on a Sunday morning?  Optional.
Had a late night?  Optional.
If we make church an option, then when they leave the nest, what will they most likely do?  Make it an option.
As they head off into adulthood and the array of options available on most college campuses, I want the steady diet of God's word, fellowship and spiritual growth to be a priority.  Not an option.

It saddens me how many parents I see, even within our own church, who do not make regular church attendance a priority.  If you are a young mom, I encourage you to make. it. happen.  From the time our children were infants, we have chosen to attend the 8:00 am service.  I know this is not for everyone, but just hear me out.  ;)
When we are in town, we go to church on Sundays.  Our kids have never asked, "are we going to church tomorrow?"  They just know.  We choose the early service because it gives us more of an afternoon to enjoy as a family.   Not once have my kids complained about having to get up.  Not because they weren't tired... simply because they know what the expectations are.  It's like it never even crosses their mind that church is optional.

Now, lest you think I am a supermom that gets up at o'dark-thirty to have all my chicks in a row, here is how it works for us:
6:05 alarm goes off
6:15 roll out of bed (not usually bearing a smile)
 I get in the shower while my husband lets the dog out and gets the kids up.  This system has taken some tweaking over the years, but now that the kids can dress themselves it works much faster.
6:30 While I dry my hair, he takes a shower.  The kids at this age can self maintain.  When they were younger, we plopped them in front of some cartoons so we could get ready in peace.  See, we're normal.
7:10 Roll out of the driveway
7:25 Pick up donuts to eat in the car (excellent bribery reward for the kids)
7:40 arrive at church to make coffee for children's workers

See?  I don't dress my kids.  I don't make breakfast.  I'm not supermom.  :)

One of the rules we had to install for our pre-teen girls is that we lay their clothes out the night before and they are not allowed to change their mind on Sunday.  Way too much drama for 6:30 am.  This rule does not apply to mom, by the way.  She may change her mind. Multiple times.

As a word of caution, church attendance is one of those areas that could easily become legalistic in nature.  We don't go to church because it is the rule.  We go to church because we desire to follow after Christ, minister to and fellowship with others, and grow in the Word.

I'll finish with a a funny (quick)story:
When our oldest daughter was 3 she HATED coming to church.  She would start crying when we pulled into the parking lot.  She cried the ENTIRE time she was in her Sunday school class. They even had to get an extra person to work her room just for her.  I, needless to say, was mortified.  But they were precious souls who encouraged me to not give up.  So we didn't.  Now that same child who wailed over having to come to church is almost twelve.  She LOVES going to church.  In fact, she gets super frustrated if we have to miss for sickness or travel.  Each Saturday she will usually say, "I'm so excited that tomorrow is Sunday.  I love church!"

Priorities.  So worth it!


Tracey said...

Wonderful post! Totally agree...100...Love being in the same church family with y'all!

Trisha said...

I love this post! I could not agree more. We attend a church were several different groups meet every Sunday. Each year your meeting time changes. It is by geographical area by the way. We go from 2pm to 5pm! I so do not like that! I feel like my day is all gone when we get home. BUT my children know that we attend church. Also we attend on vacation. We find a church and time and attend as a family. They love meeting new people! I love that they know that worshipping God is a priority!

the bennetts said...

so so worth it to make it a priority. as you know, it nearly took a lightning bolt under our family to get us to make it a priority.

i never mentioned this, actually thought about it just yesterday. last year, during winter, we would rarely make church. i hate the cold and we actually skipped church because the thought of going out in the cold to walk to the car and then walk into the church was too difficult. there were even rainy days we decided to skip because we didn't want to get soaked, especially lugging two kids with us.

really? i am mortified that we actually consciously made those decisions.

and now, i am so thankful and humbled that the Lord saw to it to change our hearts and help us to make church service AND sunday school top priority.

PS- i bribed todd (ha! not the kids, my HUSBAND!) with the donuts on the way "if we leave in time." bam- didn't you see us walk in at 8:00? oh yeah, oh yeah...

His Girl said...

you said this so beautifully, my friend... I am praying that people really take these words to heart.

ashley said...

Great post! I grew up going to the 8am service (which used to be 8:15) and we just always knew that church was part of our weekly routine. When we had kids, we never even thought twice about whether or not we'd go each week. I am just SO thankful to have such a wonderful place to gather every sunday!!! In fact, we love it so much that 4 days out of the week, at least one of us is there for one reason or another! :)

anthonyandbeth said...

Couldn't agree more! So important! Great post :)

Mom said...

I felt like I SO missed such an important part of my week by not being there on Sunday! I KNEW I felt pretty bad when I realized I wasn't going to make it there...
It thrills my heart to hear your oldest one say how much she LOVES church!

Kellie said...

So true! Getting fed each week is so important and I don't like to miss out!

Terri said...

I love your post and feel the same way about going to church. It has been the best start of our week and really hate to miss out.

Mich said...

Thank you!!!

Great post!

Chelsea said...

Very well said. We missed church this last weekend b/c our whole fam was sick. My husband and I were talking about how weird it felt not to go and how weird for people who don't go- Sunday is just a "normal" day. Now I feel like it's been SO long since we've been there and connected w/ our church fam.
I love the idea of laying clothes out the night before. I'm going to start doing that with our 4 year old. We usually go to church either A. frustrated or B. With her in tears. Wish I would have thought to do that sooner!

Esther said...

Great post!
We used to love our 8 am service when the kids were babies...they were up anyway, so we may as well get to church and be back for nap time :)

Gretchen said...

Loved this, Gretchen. And it inspires me to keep on keeping on with my son. His sensory issues make his enjoyment/tolerance of the group and high noise (worship songs) a small nightmare. We are negotiating that he goes once a week (not twice--he usually chooses to go to youth, rather than Sunday School). Finding that tension of pushing him to obey, and yet knowing he sees his dad's example of not going (so resents having to go b/c it's hard) is a challenge. But God is big, and He's faithful in this, too. And we keep beseeching the Creator to break my husband's heart...One day. One day, indeed.