Coming Back To Church for The Kids

Here’s something I used to roll my eyes at is books and discussions about church participation in America: all the people who show up when they start having kids.

Lots of sociology of religion texts described this phenomenon when I was in seminary, and I always looked down on it as a less-than kind of motivation for coming to church. I maintained a kind of Pelagian disdain for those who couldn’t be bothered with church in college and young adulthood (after spending lots of time in Sunday School and youth group) but who suddenly discovered a yearning for God and a religious community once they became parents.

That was dumb. It signified the projection of my own religious experience as the norm everyone else should follow. I was young.

People who come back around to church when the kids are born are taking a massive step. Though they often present as nominally involved and are busy with lots and lots of competing commitments, what with full-time careers and ever-growing schedules of kids’ activities, their search for meaning and connection–for God–is as authentic as the sighing pleading of the 20 year-old in the pew next to them. It feels critically important to make good use of their time and energy. Get to the heart of the matter. Don’t fool around.

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