“Sorry we haven’t been to church in awhile, but our kids are in sports and have games and tournaments on Sunday.” This is a common statement heard today among Christian parents who find themselves wedged between attending church and their kids’ sports. What should Christian parents do? Have kids’ sports replaced church? What does God have to say about this topic?
Clearly the days when Sunday was off-limits for anything except church are over. Kids’ sport leagues view Sunday as not only fair game for scheduling, but even preferred because “no one has anything going on.” This, of course, puts pressure on Christian parents to choose between church and sports. Over the past 10 years, it has become fairly evident who is winning! So where is this leading? What does God think about this? What is the answer? To help with this challenging topic, let me give one suggestion to consider…
What Are You Teaching Your Kids?
Deuteronomy 6:5, 7 – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might… You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Scripture places the spiritual responsibility for influencing children on the parents. This means that Christian parents are to be the spiritual leaders of the home, modeling godly behavior by what is said and done. Most Christian parents would tell their children to love Jesus with all their heart and to make Him first in their life. They would also say that church, worship, and growing in God’s word should be the priority. But what does this really look like?
To make anything number one requires a sacrifice. In other words, to make Jesus “the” priority means that other things must take second place. To make church, worship, and growing in God’s word the priority means others things must become subordinate. So what is a Christian parent teaching their children, either directly or indirectly, by making sports “the” priority on Sunday?
What does that say to a child about Jesus? What does that imply about the value of church? Although this may be hard to hear, I think the answer is pretty obvious. What we do rather than what we say speaks volumes to our children.
It’s right about now in the conversation the counter arguments begin to start in order to help us deal with the guilt or tension of saying “no” to kids’ sports. “I need to support my child’s talent.” “This is only for a season.” “The team is depending on my child.” These may all be true, but again what are you modeling to your child? What do they think when they see their parents at a game and not church? What would even one parent at church teach them? I’m not saying this is an easy topic, but I do think every Christian needs to ask and answer this question. Otherwise, we shouldn’t be surprised when our children are putting other things in front of Jesus and church attendance down the road?
Finally, I believe as parents we find ourselves in these predicaments because we are not forward-thinking. In other words, we are not considering the spiritual implications when making decisions for our children. In the excitement for our kids’ success, we say “yes” first and take little time to consider where it may lead from a spiritual standpoint. Then we find ourselves wedged between going back on their sport team commitment and a spiritual commitment to attend church.
The solution for this is on the front end. As parents, we need to be praying and talking with our kids about spiritual commitment before joining a team. We need to help them view opportunity through God’s perspective. We need to model by our actions what we want them to do. As Christian parents proactively step into this process, they will be helping their children practically understand what it looks like to make Jesus first.
Full disclosure, I have had to personally walk through this process with my children and it wasn’t easy. There is a lot of pressure today on children and families to compromise church and spiritual priorities for “success”. So I don’t write this blog from a judgmental perspective but from having to actually learn these lessons the hard way.
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