All of our kids went through phases where they hated church. Sometimes, the problem was simple: They lack friends. Other times the problem was more complicated. But it’s critical that parents learn how to negotiate these seasons. After all, 75% of Christian kids are walking away from church when they graduate. Think about that stat. Seventy-five out of one hundred. And this is one of the most fundamentally life-altering decisions a person could make.
People are especially curious how Carolyn and I negotiate this, knowing that we travel a lot. And yes, this complicates things.
If you follow me on Instagram (@peterhaas1), in the last couple weeks alone, I’ve been to Canada, London, Pittsburgh & Orlando — which leads to the other question I want to address: “How do you parent your kids with such a crazy schedule?”
Well, keep in mind, when our kids were little, we simply couldn’t travel as much. And when we DID travel, we weren’t bringing our kids because, it was “romantic travel” (if you know what I mean)… (See the blog on “Surviving Young Kids” here)
But now that our kids can help us actually assist us in DOING ministry, it’s really getting fun.
For example, two weeks ago, I dragged my 14 yr old son to Experience Church in Calgary. Of course, he was thrilled about the idea of going into their kids ministry to learn how they did it. Then, this last week, I dragged my daughters to England. Substance Variant (our DJ worship band) was debuting our first music video at NewDay festival – and if you haven’t seen it, click here).
But I was so proud of my daughter Lijah (@lijahhaas on Insta). She got up and did a complicated DJ routine in front of 7000+ of her
NewDay Festival Main Stage
peers – which honestly took a LOT of guts. And after I preached, she took the stage with Substance Variant and gave these Brits a bit of the Substance experience. And after I shared the story about my other daughter, True’s vision of Historic Wesley, many people kept coming up to her for prayer (@truehaas). And it was delightful to watch her shower people with kindness.
Looking back on these last few weeks, the highlight wasn’t speaking and performing to a giant sea of people; rather, it was doing it alongside people I love. It was watching my loved ones serve God’s people with their gifts. And watching God bless them in return.
I say this because: there is no career success in my life that has remotely compared to the joy of seeing the loved ones around me succeed in Christ.
But I’ve noticed that a lot of people never experience this joy unless they painstakingly prioritize parenting and church involvementover the never-ending opportunities that are marketed at us. And what do I mean by this?
For starters, I’ve always made sure my kids had a ministry at church. Did they always like it? No.
Like most kids, they complained… a LOT. There were seasons where they didn’t know where they fit. They struggled with friends. And it took hundreds of conversations…explaining the need for Christian friends and radical ownership. The common denominator of the 25% of teens who don’t fall away from Christ when they graduate, is that ALL of them had (a). Serve in a ministry at church alongside their family. And (b). They were entrusted with ministry leadership early on in their teen years. If they didn’t show up, people notices.
Naturally, there were a few other elements that made these teens the exception to the rule (see my message on them here).
But, my point is this: Kids will push back on ALL disciplines at some point. They will try to wear you down and question reality on all sorts of subjects. And as a parent, we can naively hope that our kids will just spontaneously love things — with no effort or negotiation. But let’s get real: We all know that parenting is more complex.
In some ways, much of parenting is simply having the energy to stand firm when your kids whine. And when they get older, this can require a bit more artful negotiating. But once they owned the church for themselves, they’re now walking in a whole new level of blessings. They don’t need me to convince them anymore.
But disciplined kids begins with disciplined parents. If they don’t see you inconveniently prioritize church, you can rest assured, they will rise to the level of your lowest bar. If you only attend every other week, chances are, they will only show up once a month! And remember, there are devastating differences between Christians who attend every week verses every other week.
But how do we fight these battles without ranting at our kids?
I’ve always tried to have a few hobbies in common with each of my kids. And why? Because, it often takes an hour of video game time to have 10 minutes of great parenting time. You have to earn more “heart-to-heart” convos by logging hours. And yes, many times, those common interests were strange and awkward for me to acquire. Our common interests have constantly changed and evolved – from Minecraft to YouTube shows to now, writing music and DJ-ing.
But the important part is that, the more hours you log, the easier these convos tend to go — the more your kids will concede to your priorities and requests… to attend church and get involved in ministry.
Research shows that “quantity of time spent with your kids” is THE SINGLE greatest predictor of child outcomes. Yet, we live in a world that’s constantly pressuring us to drown our children in a long list of extracurriculars – sports, academics, arts… basically “good things” that often crowd out the the single greatest thing your child needs most: YOU and Christ-oriented “back-up mentors.”
Don’t allow good to become the enemy of great. Any activity that decreases your child’s interaction with these things is likely something that needs to be seriously scrutinized.
So here’s how to think about it: If life was a juggling act, and each ball represented a different aspect of your life… careers, friends, & opportunities are like rubber balls. If you drop them, they always bounce back.
And although your kids, your marriage & your health FEEL like they bounce back as well, over time, you find that they’re ACTUALLY a lot more like glass… when you drop them, they chip, they crack, and some even shatter. And many parents don’t realize this until it’s too late.
But how do we prevent this?
Just be intentional to “seek first” the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt. 6:33). Time and intentionality change everything.
But, let me tell you, the joy and delight from investing in the kingdom is ALWAYS greater than money, opportunities or professional success.
So don’t waste your life learning this the hard way. Amen?
For dozens more blogs and messages on parenting, check out my parenting page! I cover everything from “How to talk about sex, dating” to “How to Vacation with young kids.”