There is a lot of guilt about, within parents’ minds and hearts, for adult children who are not presently following God. It’s almost as if many parents feel inadequate and possibly even judged within the Church community for having ‘failed’.
When I hear those parents try and justify where their kids are at, and tell me “He/she is thinking of coming back to church” I worry that the parent may have gotten the cart before the horse. They may see that getting their kids to church is more important than their relationship with them. What I want to say is, “Relax and just work on loving your kids; let them see Christ through you, which is nothing to do with quoting Bible passages, or pressuring them to go to church.”
My personal belief about adult kids not going to church is simple.
I believe we are all, individually, cosmically alone with God. What this means is, at the end of life, it is down to us as individuals with our God. We can take nothing and no one into eternity with us. And whether our children, our spouses, our mothers and fathers, our friends, etc, make it or not is not for us to get overly concerned about. Again, this is my personal view, and many will disagree. But the way I see it, my philosophy helps me to not bother about where people are at on their journey towards salvation and within the bounds of sanctification. It’s between them and God.
The last thing most people want is to be pressured to follow God.
It’s of More Worth to Work on the Relationship
As God is relational with us, we are to be relational with those who rely upon us as examples of love and truth. It’s far more important for us to be real within our relationships with our adult children than it is to spout Christian jargon and manipulate the way to get them to church.
When we are not worried about whether they will attend church or not we are freed up to just be with them, listen in to their lives, quietly encourage them, and actually become their friend; one who can coach (but remember coaches are not advisers; coaches encourage and quietly challenge when it is appropriate). If our adult kids feel genuinely loved, by being respected, they may well want to come to church, eventually.
What a legacy we have the opportunity to leave. When we, as parents and grandparents, leave this life, what will our children and grandchildren say about us; what impact will we have made as supporters and encouragers of them?
It’s more important as a parent to focus on being supporters and encouragers of our adult children than it is for us to coerce them to go to church.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.