Sometimes children’s ministry is seen by parents as a means of outsourcing their role in providing spiritual leadership for their children.
I am not talking about particiating believers who feel underqualified to teach their children spiritual truth, while they themselves are trying to grow spiritually. I am talking about parents who want to impart a belief system to their children, especially one that they no longer value. Parents who are no longer practicing Christians, but who feel that their children should have some exposure to “the faith”, and who bring their kids to church, specifically because they have a vibrant children’s ministry. Parents who show up on Sunday, sit through a worship service, when they would rather be at home, watching tv, doing yard work, or going out for breakfast.
Why does this happen? Because couples marry with differences in faith and practice, and quickly decide that religious differences are not their greatest problem, until the kids arrive, and they are confronted with it, again. Because individuals decide after wandering away from the faith of their childhood, that religion is not for them (they are “too far gone”), but believe that their kids still have a chance to get it right. Because I don’t believe that “stuff” anymore, but it is important for my kids to be “exposed” to it.
In response to the thinking that leads to this behavior:
1) If you think that spiritual tendencies of parents will not be understood by children, you are mistaken. Belief systems are more frequently “caught” than “taught”, meaning, children learn by observation. While they may not have the words to describe your particular state of apostasy, they understand it, and when you bring them to church, they learn how different mommy and daddy are from what the Bible teaches. But mommy and daddy are their reference point, and most kids will reject something that is too different from their reference point.
2) If you think it is important to “expose” your children to something you no longer believe, then one of two things is happening: a) you want to teach your children something that is a lie – or b) you really still believe it, but are to lazy, scared, or selfish to act on those beliefs and ask God to re-inhabit your life. Neither of these positions makes much sense. Either decide that you still believe it, and ask God to restore your faith, or be honest with your children.
3) You have wandered away from God, and you think you can’t now come back, but you want your children to have an opportunity to get what you threw away. You are now too far from God to ever come back, there is no hope for you (untrue). You are not qualified to lead your children spiritually (if you value spiritual things, they will observe and learn to do the same). You are not a good influence on your kids (this may be true, but you cannot escape this responsibility. You will be an influence on your kids would it not be better to try to be what you believe they need?). Come back to God, accept His forgiveness, earnestly seek Him, and you will be a role model to your kids.