Children in Church


When some people say that they don’t want to take their children to church, let alone Sunday school, because they are allegedly forced there to complete difficult tasks, to keep fasts and stand through long services (which is allegedly often beyond adults’ strength!), I tell them this story.

When I went to school, I would often spend time at my beloved grandparents’ at the opposite end of the city. The window looked out on a wonderful playground and a tennis court, where my friends and I would play football in summer and play hockey in winter. My friend Mishka [a diminutive form of the name Michael] lived next door. We went to the same school, attended the same football club, and would spend time together in the evenings. In addition, my friend attended a music school and learned to play the accordion. His parents wanted him to study at the Music Conservatory (by the way, he graduated from it later), so he had to have his accordion practice for eight hours every day without making any holiday breaks or summer trips to the country (in this case they would take the accordion with them). I would stay at my grandparents’ and could hear my friend playing music through the wall. So I would listen to him for hours and then, unable to contain myself any more, I climbed over the balcony (we lived on the first floor next door) into his room and said, “Mishka, stop your lessons! Come on, let us go and play football! All the boys are already on the playground!” However, my friend never went outside until his music lessons were over. But if somebody had said to his parents: “Why do you wear your boy out by making him play the accordion eight hours a day? He is deprived of the joys of childhood!”, they would have given a screw-loose sign at best!

All parents whose children seriously engage in sports activities (gymnastics, figure skating, hockey, etc.) or take music lessons (like my friend) know that it is a hard work requiring tremendous efforts, but their children do it without a murmur on a daily basis. And I agree that not all adults can cope with this work overload. At the same time, they are aware that only one in 1,000 children becomes a great athlete or musician. What of that? These parents make sacrifices without a moment’s hesitation; this is normal for them.

But when it comes to lessons at a Sunday school (once a week) or taking one’s children to the Sunday Liturgy for Communion, parents say with indignation: “You must be crazy! How can we constrain our kids to perform these burdensome duties?” In fact faith is much more important than muscle stretching. If a child is raised in faith, it will support and protect him through his life like a shield. Faith is not weakness—only unchurched people think so! This is the power of Christ Who has overcome the world (cf. Jn. 16:33), the power that can move mountains and make impossible things possible. Beyond all doubt, these people don’t go to church and don’t understand what they are talking about—this fact causes misunderstanding. These people should try and overcome themselves, force themselves to go to church for a couple of hours (instead of sleeping till noon), stand through the service, pray and see the happy eyes of their children after Communion. And their lives will be gradually transformed.

Denis Akhalashvili
Prepared by Elena Churina
Translated by Dmitry Lapa

The Soyuz Orthodox TV channel


See also
Why Children lose their Faith in God Why Children lose their Faith in God
Fr. Sergius Chetverikov
Why Children lose their Faith in God Why Children lose their Faith in God
Fr. Sergius Chetverikov
Before answering that question, I want to say a few words to those who assert that one should not “impose” religious beliefs on children.
“Education is the most sacred of all sacred works.” “Education is the most sacred of all sacred works.”
Varvara Kashirina
“Education is the most sacred of all sacred works.” “Education is the most sacred of all sacred works.”
St. Theophan on Education
Varvara Kashirina
The saint was often asked, “How should a child be properly raised? How can we instill basic moral concepts in his soul?” He would give this advice: “Love your children, and they will love you.” But at the same, time this love must always be joined with reasonable strictness: “Dissolve strictness of authority with meekness, try to earn love with love; true goodness is also not foreign to a strict word.”
Parents, begin with yourselves! Parents, begin with yourselves!
Evgenia Novoseltseva, Irina Kalenova
Parents, begin with yourselves! Parents, begin with yourselves!
Psychologist Irina Kalenova on why children leave the Church and how to avoid it
Alas, a picture known by many: while a child is yet young he goes to church joyfully, but as he gets older this joy fades away and parents have to persuade their child to receive Communion, to fast, and even just to come to the services. Then as a teenager he even begins to bring home anti-religious propaganda, and the excruciating question “how did this happen?” gives the parents no rest. Why do children, growing up, leave the Church? Who’s to blame? How can we avoid the de-Churchification of teenagers?
Anthony6/3/2018 10:51 am
But of course. When the child falls sick, or there are some other problems in the family, then said parents who found it burdensome to go to Church, all of a sudden remember God. And start making their demands. And when their demands are not met, then they become more enraged. No consideration of their own failings or lack of repentance. I have seen it first hand. And it's not worth pointing these things out since their hearts are like an unbreakable rock.
Laskarina6/2/2018 11:16 pm
You are lucky to not be in an OCA church, where "holy noise" is considered more important than hearing the Gospel or participating in the Divine Liturgy.

At OCA churches, one sees children playing in the nave, even adults reading aloud to them during services! Should anyone look askance, they are summarily censured as not going along with Bishop Job's proclamation of "holy noise". This proclamation is on the OCA website.

Children running, playing with candles, banging on the floor, even coloring pictures en masse, is considered 'holy'. It seems that adults do not even know the purpose of being in church and have no cognizance of the respect and veneration due to God and the Theotokos.
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