TLDR: You aren’t ruining your kids by not going to church.
I wrote this in honor of three kings day a few months ago.
Happy Three Kings Day!
Don’t know what Three Kings Day is? Don’t worry; we will get to that. But let’s start at that moment or ritual that many of us parents have found themselves in this pandemic.
This past Sunday, my wife and I did our monthly ritual of stressing about if we are doing the right thing by not attending church in person with our children. Simultaneously, a pandemic reaches higher levels in our East TN county than many countries have experienced.
As former youth workers, my wife and I know how vital building church habits and friendships are to their spirituality now and in the future. A constant theme from the success stories is how important church life over a long time is. Church life consists of intergenerational relationships, attending the fun and boring church stuff, and weekly participation in the worship experience and Bible class.
So every month, we ask ourselves, do we go or stay home and keep banging our heads against the wall of Family Devos and streamed church services? After all, the Bible clearly says, “don’t forsake the gathering.”
But what is the gathering? Is it packing 200+ people in a room with decent but not great airflow in a space that is almost certain to be a spreader event? Is it going to a Small Group with 10-20 other people, including kids? Is it livestreaming our service every Sunday?
These are the questions we have asked ourselves every month since our church reopened, which brings us to Three Kings Day.
Three Kings Day
Three Kings Day Celebrates the day the Three Kings or Three Wise Men show up to bestow their gifts upon Jesus. In Matthew 2, the kings show up, give their gifts, and then roll out before Herod can track them to Jesus. If you remember your nativity story, it includes a census, five kings, a Caesar, a hole in the wall, and it’s the Bible, so of course, a healthy dose of genocide.
Yeah, in the Matthew account, the kings leave, and Herod gets pissed. So he kills all the boys under the age of 2. Jesus gets spared by an angel showing up to Joseph and telling him to head to Egypt. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus hang out in Egypt for anywhere between 6 months and three years. The timelines aren’t exactly straightforward. Happy Three Kings Day!
What does this mean for you, parents?
Jesus is in Egypt for, let’s say, 18 months to give us a nice round number. He missed the temple sacrifices, many of the weekly Jewish activities, and, depending on his age and how long he stayed there, some early Jewish education.
So Jesus missed some of those early formations in Jewish culture, and you know what, he turned out all right. Do you think Joseph and Mary stressed about missing some of those things? I bet they did, just like we do today. They knew they were raising the son of God, after all. They felt the pressure to be perfect parents, just like we do today. But they also probably made sure that God was a part of their daily discourse. Do we do that? They probably would have made sure to go to the nearest synagogue when they could. Still, Mary and Joseph also knew that they needed to remain hidden from Herod. That means you can’t just be showing up at synagogue every week being like, “yeah, we ran from the genocidal maniac, but please don’t tell anyone.”
For when someone gives you a hard time about not attending church in a pandemic.
So if you are a parent like me, remember this. Jesus didn’t attend synagogue every week, and he turned out all right. So if you choose, like us, not to risk church, then take a breather. Keep God in the home. Because no matter how important church is in your life, it is still only somewhere between 0.6% and 3% of your week. Guess what matters more in creating sticky faith, 3% or the other 97%? Hint: it’s the other 97%. Kids inherit the importance of faith from their parents, so if you are frustrated, tired, sick of the guilt and pain of not going to church. You are in good company with me, my wife, and probably the parents of Christ.
And know that you aren’t ruining your little ones by not taking them to a physical building every week. When you live like Jesus every week, that creates a faith that sticks.
Happy Three Kings day!
Learn more here about me here.
Our kids are 18months, and 4 years old.
Our Sunday looks like this:
Kids chill with us during songs and communion. – They have jobs during this part and enjoy the songs.
For the sermon, they usually watch Veggie Tales or something on RightNow media in the room next door.
Then after the Livestream, we do Family Devo.
Devo usually consists of a story sometimes acted out (I was the donkey a lot of weeks in December for the Nativity), a memory verse, and a craft or art project. It usually takes us between 15-30 min. We have gotten some of our resources here.
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