Teenage Attendance At Worship

By Steve Schlosser

Parents who take seriously God’s requirement that they instill within their children the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) try to teach various principles. Such concepts as loving the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind; having your hope fixed completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus; seeking first God’s kingdom and His righteousness; and hungering and thirsting for righteousness, are taught from an early age. How-ever, many parents destroy the impact and effectiveness of such teaching by allowing almost any activity that conflicts with an appointed assembly of the saints to take precedence.

When there is a conflict between a school-activity or a conflict between a sports-activity and an assembly of the saints, many children are allowed to attend the secular activity. Isn’t that child being taught that other activities are more important than spiritual-assemblies?

Let’s assume a hypothetical situation for the sake of illustration. An eldership has determined that parents within the congregation over which they have oversight are failing to require their children to attend spiritual-assemblies for various reasons. Some parents just don’t see the need to assemble. Others, allow various activities (i.e., band concerts, plays, honor-roll award banquets, sports-events, etc.) to take precedence. Perhaps others just don’t believe in “forcing a child to attend church against his will.” This eldership, concerned for the souls of the young people, makes an announcement to the congregation that because of a continuing problem with teenage attendance, the following policy is now being put into effect:

1. When it is determined that there is a problem with a child’s attendance, a private conference with the child’s parents will be arranged. It is hoped that this will resolve the problem.

2. If, after a private conference, the problem is unresolved and continues, a formal conference will be held. Attending this conference will be the elders, the involved Bible-class teachers, the parents and the child. If it is determined that the child is “out-of-control” within the home; that the parents do not have enough control of the child to insure his satisfactorily attending assemblies of the saints, the child will be removed from the home and placed in another home that can and will insure the child’s proper attendance.

What would be your reaction to such a policy? Would it not be one of total shock? Perhaps you would keenly resent the elders’ attempt to require you as a parent to teach your child, in application of life, to “seek first the kingdom.” You perhaps would resent their expectation of you that your “teaching” come both in word and in deed. Therefore, their expectation requiring you to demand of the child attendance at spiritual-assemblies, regardless of the conflict, would be resented. Besides all of that, “Who do they think they are saying they’ll take the child from my home?”

Did you know that all of us are living daily under similar rules? Check your local school-district! If your child is having a problem with school attendance a policy very similar to that outlined above is mandated by law and will be followed. Yes, if the legally appointed school officials, in conjunction with the juvenile-court and/or probation-office find that you have been negligent as a parent, your child will be taken from you and given to a foster-home or institution. Further, in extreme cases, you can be prosecuted, fined, and in California placed in jail for up to six-months.

How many children would go to school if they were not made to go? Who among us wishes to say that secular education is more important than spiritual education? How does God view your efforts as a parent to insure the spiritual education of your child? Spiritual education must take place first in the home. Don’t erode your good teaching (words) as a parent by allowing your actions (in this case, secular conflicts allowed to interfere with spiritual-assemblies) to take away that teaching. We must serve Him in word and deed. If you were facing God in a review of your child’s attendance record at spiritual assemblies would He find you negligent as a parent? Would He want to place your child in another home where spirituality is practiced not just talked about?

Guardian of Truth XXX: 9, pp. 259, 277
May 1, 1986