I went when I was well and I went when I was mildly sick. I went in good weather, bad weather, and was even in church on May 18, 1980 when mysterious ash started raining down on us during worship service. (We would later learn that Mt. St. Helens had erupted on the other side of the state.) I went when family came to town to visit, I went on holidays, I went on pretty much any day the doors were open. And they were open a LOT.
I was never allowed to attend Brownies, or Girl Scouts, or play sports because all of those things involved practices, meetings, and games on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Does this make me a better person? Absolutely NOT. But it does make me someone who had parents who knew the value of the church and our amazing God, and did not for one second, want me to miss anything that might edify my knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know my mom firmly believed that I could fill my time with things of the world, or I could fill my time with things of the Lord, and in her wisdom, she directed me toward the things of the Lord. And while I didn't understand it so much as a child, I definitely understand it as a mom. As a mom, I want nothing more for my children than for them to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I want them to hide God's Word in their hearts, and I want them to know that if they died tonight, Christ is not going to be concerned with how many equations they can solve, how well they can kick a ball, or how proficient they were on the debate team. He's going to be concerned with their heart. ".....Man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart" 1 Samuel 16:7.
Nearly 70% of evangelicals walk away from the church after high school and only half return roughly a decade later. That statistic came from a website I read, however, I have formulated my own ideas as to why it happens:
To put it bluntly, we (Christians) are not making God important. Ouch! We're not making him an integral part of our daily lives. Instead, we're making Him a Sunday or Wednesday thing, if that. We're making Him convenient when it suits our schedule for school, sports, extra curricular activities, and when Christmas doesn't fall on a Sunday. Instead of making God our life, we're making Him a part of it, and only a small part at that. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 instructs us, “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." The Word is telling us to teach our children to know and love God daily, not just when it works for us.
Looking back, I'm so thankful my mom didn't let me miss out on church. I'm thankful she didn't let me miss out on knowing God. Just as she didn't let me choose whether or not to go to school, she didn't let me choose whether or not to go to church. She made church, and having a relationship with Christ, fundamental and integral as part of my upbringing. What seemed at times as something I HAD to do, became something I long to do. I want to be in the company of others who believe similarly. I want to be surrounded by those who will encourage, support, and pray for me, and I want to follow the Word when it says, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but exhort one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching" Hebrews 10:25.
Will my children always remain in the church? I don't know. Will they always long for a relationship with Christ? I cannot say. Free will is a powerful choice God equipped us with, and just as we're not His puppets, my children are not my puppets. I will do everything in my power to instill in them a love for the Lord, and I will continually pray for God to handle the details and draw them to Him.