The Child And His Church

by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

(Chapter 16 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, How To Rear Children)


In Luke 4:16 we read, "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up: and as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read." If the synagogue had such an important part in the life of Jesus, the Son of God, how much more do our children need the New Testament church! The church is the family's best friend and its confines should be the child's second home.

1. The child should be taken to church very soon after birth. No one really knows when the first influences are made on the life of a child and when the first impressions reach his little mind. I well recall that when Becky was born I went to the hospital with a big Scofield Reference Bible, stood in front of the window, looked in at her little face, waved the Bible back and forth, and hollered, "Becky, this is the Bible. The Bible is the Word of God." She was not impressed, but I wanted her first impression to concern spiritual matters.

The first night she was home from the hospital I walked her much of the night. As I did so I told her about Adam and Eve, the fall of man, Abraham and Isaac, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau, Noah, Ham, Shem, Japheth, Moses, David, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, the virgin birth, the sinless life, the vicarious death, the bodily resurrection, the second coming, the rapture, the judgment seat, the marriage of the Lamb, the millennium, the Great White Throne, Heaven and Hell, I then told her the plan of salvation from front to back. She was only a few days old. She did not seem very impressed, but I wanted her to know everything she should know about the Bible. Periodically I told her how to be saved until she was old enough to know and receive Christ for herself.

When Becky was six days old I took her to the church nursery. When David was ten days old he was in the nursery. When Linda was nine days old she was in the nursery. When Cindy was a week and a half she was in the nursery. It is very important that a child be taken to church at the earliest time possible. Of course, this means that the church nursery should be one of the finest, cleanest and best equipped rooms in the entire church. It should be cheerful, spotlessly clean, and staffed with the finest and most careful workers. The other day I was walking by our church nursery and saw this little sign over the cribs: "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed." Of course, this was taken from the Apostle Paul and had nothing to do with the church nursery, but it simply points out the fact that someone cares for the children, and there is a delight even in the nursery of the church. Recently the superintendent of our four nursery suites gave each little child a bib on which was printed, "I LOVE MY PREACHER!"

2. The child should be reared in the right kind of a church. By all means the parent should not allow his child to attend a modernistic church. Every child has a God-given right to grow up in a church that believes the Bible is the Word of God, the deity of Christ, His miracles, His virgin birth, His bodily resurrection, the truth of Heaven and Hell, and the fundamental Bible doctrines. Parents should see to it that their children are not under the influence of a modernistic preacher who denies the Bible and its Christ.

The idea of "going to the church of your choice" is certainly contrary to the teachings of the Word of God. We should go to the church of His choice.

Another dangerous trend is that of going to the church that is nearest. No one does this in other areas of life. No one goes to the grocery store because it is the nearest one. No man goes to the barber shop because it is the closest one. We choose the places to which we feel we ought to go, and certainly the right kind of church is necessary for rearing the right kind of child.

3. The child should be taught faithfulness to all the services of the church. This is very, very important. The child should get the idea that when the doors of the church are open he should be there. He should never miss Sunday school, morning preaching, Sunday evening youth meetings, Sunday evening preaching service, or the Wednesday evening service. One of the things my mother impressed upon my little heart when I was as boy that I have never forgotten is the fact that when the church doors are open we are supposed to be there.

4. The child should build his entire life around the local church. Because of this the church must intensify its program for the child as he grows older. Before a baby is born he is completely dependent upon his mother. He can eat only when his mother eats. He can go only where his mother goes. At birth, when the cord is cut, a severance begins that is gradual but definite. This severance ends when the child leaves home to go off to college, to the service, or to establish his own home by marriage. During the growing up years as this severance continues and the child finds himself spending more and more time away from the home, the church should pick up the void that is left. This is why at the First Baptist Church of Hammond we increase the activities offered to the child with the passing of the years. We figure that a beginner child (ages 4 and 5) is 90% tied to his parents. Consequently, we do not offer a great deal in extracurricular activities for the beginner child. We fell that the primary child (ages 6 and 7) is perhaps 75% tied to his parents, so we increase the extra-curricular activities for him.

As the child approaches the junior age he continues to spend more and more time away from his parents. He is now busy in school. He is the age for Boy Scouts, Little League baseball, etc. Consequently, we surmise that perhaps he needs 50% of his time filled. Hence, the church intensifies it program. As he becomes a junior high school student, perhaps he is 75% severed from his parents. The church must then provide even more activities for the junior highers.

When he enrolls in high school he is coming toward the last steps of preparing himself for his own life. He is gone from home more, so he need more extra-curricular activities at the church. Because of this the church should multiply its efforts to provide for the total need of the teenager.

At the First Baptist Church of Hammond we have a weekly activity for the young people. This is church-wide and is sponsored by the church and directed by a youth director. This activity is sometimes social and sometimes strictly spiritual. One week a month services are conducted by our youth at the Pacific Garden Rescue Mission in Chicago. Sometimes there is a youth rally, sometimes a wiener roast, sometimes a party, at other times a Christian movie, but there is something every week.

Then also, each Saturday evening our teenagers meet to go to soul winning. An average of 125 teenagers meet on their own and go out to win others to Jesus Christ.

We choose the finest of workers to work with the teenagers, especially the high schoolers. We have singing groups of all sizes and types for them. There is a large high school choir (also a junior high choir). This high school choir is well drilled, and the musical program of the church as far as the young people are concerned far exceeds that of the school system. The child should definitely be taught there is nothing at the church done that is second-rate. It is always first-rate. Everything is done properly.

Mark Twain once said, "When a child becomes a teenager he should be placed in a box with a hole just large enough so he can breathe. When he gets to be seventeen, plug up the hole." This need not be so if the child is faithful to the activities of the church.

Parents should see to it that the child is in every activity. For example, in the First Baptist Church of Hammond the high schoolers should go soul winning, go to the weekly youth activity, attend the youth choir, and join in all the Sunday school parties, etc. The entire void that is left as a child approaches the leaving of his parents should be filled by the church. Especially is this true as the public schools become more worldly and as the temptations of the world become greater.

5. The child should be taught to give church activities preference over school activities. This is not to say that school is unimportant. Quite to the contrary! The school is important, but not as important as the New Testament church. The wise parent will see that his children study and that they obey the school as long as these endeavors do not conflict with the church activities. For example, if there is a school activity on Wednesday night, the child should go to prayer meeting. He should get the idea that Matthew 6:33 is true when our Lord admonishes us, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness."

6. The parent who is wise will build in his child a confidence in his pastor. This is so important!

I am thinking now of a family in our church. They are good people. They are faithful people, but they developed a little habit of complaining about the pastor. They would drop little bits of criticism around the supper table. They did not mean to be critical and certainly not hurtful, but the children soaked it up until they began to lose confidence in the pastor. The girl became a teenager. She was drifting away from God and needed her pastor desperately; in fact, I was the only person who could have helped her. (This was generally agreed.) She had, however, heard her parents criticize her pastor so much that she would not come to him for counsel. The criticisms were not of a serious nature and the truth is, the parents are for the pastor and behind his program. They simply would speak carelessly that his sermons were too long, the invitation song was sung too fast, his tie was too loud, etc. Though they meant nothing by it, the daughter thought they did, and her life has been ruined because the parents did not build her confidence in the pastor.

The wise parent will see to it that the child develops a close relationship with the pastor. The pastor should become in every sense his hero! When the parents can see this is true, they can build the pastor up in the eyes of the children, admonish them to obey him, and do what he says. In so doing they are guaranteeing that the child will come to the pastor when a need arises. How vital and important this is! To be sure, the pastor is not perfect, and the parents should not tell the child that he is. Neither should the parent dwell on his imperfections, but rather, strengthen the relationship of the child with the pastor.

After every public service parents bring their children to my study. If the child's grades are bad, they bring him to me for counsel. If there is a problem of disobedience, they bring him to me for conversation. A sweet relationship exists between the pastor and the children which enables the pastor to be able to help them when they have special need of help.

7. The child should be taught to behave properly at church. There is an important point to be mentioned here. Far too many children are taught to behave at church because "it is the Lord's house." We imply to the child that the Lord lives in the church building and that we come by to see Him on Sunday. This is an improper motive for proper behavior. The church building is the house of God simply by ownership. He does not live in the church building any more that He does in the home, but the church is a place dedicated to the teaching of His word and the fellowshipping of His people. If for no other reason, the child should certainly be taught that the equipment at church is paid for from God's money, and he should not damage the songbooks, the pews, or any other property owned by the church. Both pastor and parent should see that the child behaves properly at church. This should be especially true in the teenage years. The teenager need to hear what the man of God says. He also need to learn to be decent and orderly in public gatherings, especially when they are conducted in the house built with God's money.

8. The child should be taught to give tithes and offerings to the church. This should be done at the earliest age. When a child makes his first dime he should be taught that one penny of it belongs to God and that if he gives an offering, it should be more than the one penny. This will enable the child to start a practice which will keep him from every robbing God.

One of the fines things that ever happened to me was that I grew up close to churches. When I was six years of age we live two houses from the church. My mother cleaned the church building every week for $2 a week. I went with her and stayed around the church building. When I was thirteen we moved across the street from our church. I was always there. I was more faithful to the church than was the church mouse. It was my second home. All of my life and activities were centered around a fundamental, Bible-preaching church. The wise parent will see to it that his child does likewise.

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"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for two thousand years." óBilly Sunday