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Dear Parent Letters // Attend Church Regularly

The following is one part in a series of letters to Parents. All of it is meant with the most serious of intentions, and is not directed at any one parent. It is simply the writing of a man that has worked with children and their parents in a church setting for many years now.

Family Church

Dear Parents,

Thank you for coming to church…last month.  Where ya been?  I love seeing you and your family, but it’s been a while.  Don’t lie about how much you attend, because nowadays I can track your kids attendance pretty easy with all the sophisticated software solutions out there.  I’m sure your schedule has been really busy lately, and you feel like you’re having to choose to say no to some things.  And I’m sure that it’s easy to say no to church attendance.  I mean really, you can always go next week, right?  I know that there are weeks that there really are conflicts; soccer tournaments, out-of-town trips, and the occassional sick times.  But in all honesty and with as much sincerity as I can muster, what do you have going on a Sunday morning that takes priority over worship?

Let me be your cheerleader for a moment:  You can get here to church more regularly! You can get there, I know you can!  And I’d like to encourage you to make it more of a priority.  But why should you?

  1. The Bible Says So. // That is always a great fall-back, huh?  Seriously, you should read some of what  Hebrews, Romans, and James says about the matter.  It’s important to be in church, period.  The church was and is a part of God’s great Rescue Plan to introduce Jesus to the world.  It also exists to helps us grow, learn, and give to a community of people all seeking the same things.  You knew I’d say this one, right?
  2. You need to establish good habits with your kid early on. // I’ve rarely met a person that attends church once-a-month that would say that they want their children to grow up and NOT attend church.  It’s quite simple really, if you want your kids to grow up and be a part of a community of believers (church), it’s in your best interest to attend one yourself.  Make it a priority for your family, and your kids will learn that it’s a vital part of their walk with God.
  3. Without regular attendance you miss the mentoring and relationship benefit of Children’s Ministry. // This same principle applies to every area of the church, but let’s talk about your kids for right now.  One of the best benefits of taking your kid to a thriving ministry for Children is that they get to know other kids learning about God’s Best for their lives, and the adult leaders leading these areas.  If you attend inconsistently, you are greatly diminishing the chance for one of our fantastic Small Group Leaders or Classroom Teachers to make an impact on your child’s life.  Trust me, it’s so important that your kid hear the same things you tell them coming from a different voice.

It’s obvious, in that you sometimes attend, that you do indeed value what church means in your life, and what it can mean to your kids as you are walking this journey of parenting them.  Now it’s time to make it more of a priority, and start getting involved.  It starts with being here consistently, then we can happily start finding places for you to serve in this wonderful family called “The Body of Christ.”


Your Friendly Neighborhood Children’s Pastor

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.


  1. Jared M · January 20, 2011

    YES, YES, YES! Thank you Jonathan for writing this and I am looking forward to the next couple of letters. Although the part about tracking your attendence is a little Big Brotherish. :)

  2. Jeff Mc Clung · January 20, 2011

    My thoughts exactly Jonathan.

  3. Starr · January 20, 2011

    As a small group leader, I give a hearty “amen” to the third point. I feel so much more at ease with kids I see each week. If kids are only attending once a month, it’s so hard to remember their names…let alone get to know their personalities or remember to pray for them throughout the week. I pray I can be wise and effective with the time I do have!

  4. Betsy · January 22, 2011

    AMEN and AMEN!!! I am part of a growing congregation that has a kids ministry that is either feast or famine. When everyone is there we have 45 kids. then we have weeks were there are 12 (or fewer) . The lack of consistency makes it difficult to plan classes, coordinate staff, even show a need for more/different programs for the kids. (Our Pastor and Asst. Pastor actually let me speak one Sunday on the topic among other things because there was a real need there for parental commitment to determine what to do with our kids ministry)

    • Jonathan Cliff · January 22, 2011

      Thanks for the comment! That’s a tough situation to be in, but keep pressing through. It’ll prove worth it if you just keep on advocating for it!

  5. Lynn Moroz · January 22, 2011

    As a parent of a twenty-something, you learn that the time you have to actively bring your kids to a place where they are part of a christian education program is limited. Very quickly they grow up and make their own choices. And then there is no way to get back that time back. Why would you not want to use every moment you possibly could to reach your own children for Christ? I shake my head at what is going on in the church today. We try to make our lessons as fun and interesting as possible so kids will want to come, yet the parents are so uncommitted to making sure their kids attend that it is just sad. And frustrating when you to try to buy supplies. They wouldn’t dream of missing hockey practice though……However, whether we have 4 or 40 present, we thank God for who is present and try to work the best we can with what we have.

    • Jonathan Cliff · January 22, 2011

      One of the things I hear often from empty nesters is that they wish they had brought their kids to church more. Regret is a powerful emotion.

      I know my own kids miss from time to time; but making community within the church is important to their development.

  6. Jade · January 22, 2011

    these are interesting… but how do parents respond? do you think you might be antagonizing the people you want to encourage?
    on the flip side, at my church parental involvement does not seem to be a concern. how do I help our children & youth ministers see the need? I feel like very few parents in my son’s 6 th grade class think bringing kidS to sunday school is important now that they are in junior high .
    thanks for your honesty.

    • Jonathan Cliff · January 22, 2011

      I appreciate the feedback. I don’t expect parents to read and immediately start attending church (although that would be great!). But I want them to hear my heart towards their kids. I hope that is the take-away for my parents.

      Hopefully it will help parents fell less “alone” on the parenting journey. Hopefully…

  7. Lisa · January 22, 2011

    Amen! We are meeting with second grade parents this coming week for First Communion information. Part of what we would like to instill in them is relationship. I want them to remember back to when they were dating, or developing a friendship with someone or even their own family of origin. How would THEY have felt if the other person could only see them sporadically at best – and once a month – that’s not relationship.

    Somehow, I want to help parents see that it’s not a “HAVE TO” it’s a “GET TO!” How EXCITING that we get to worship together WEEKLY!!!!

  8. April Roland · January 22, 2011

    Yes and amen! Love this and wish I could post this somewhere in the church…or send out an email…to everyone!!! Thank you for this!

  9. Sam · January 22, 2011

    So funny you wrote this post yesterday. I listened to a message from Andy Stanley yesterday and he said “The only time the development of a child’s faith is urgent is when their parents realize they have none.”

    I guess all you skinny white guys are on the same page.

    Great post keep em coming.

  10. JC · January 22, 2011

    Great post. When someone calls my office and wants to chat about their child not connecting well. I simply check their attendance record.

    I actually had a conversation that said this:

    MOM: My son is having trouble making friends in Switch (our 5th and 6th grade ministry).

    ME: Well it says here that you’ve been once since August. (Conversation took place in October)

    MOM: Oh, yeah that would make sense that he needs to come in order to connect with others, thanks for your help.

    Sometimes it’s that simple.

    • Jonathan Cliff · January 22, 2011

      I seriously just laughed out loud! That’s hilarious, and something I do often when parents call to talk about what’s happening with their child at church. Discipline problems, lack of friends (etc…), and kids not remembering what they’re learning can almost always be tracked to inconsistent attendance! Crazy!

    • Kathryn · January 25, 2011

      Too funny but oh so true!

  11. JC · January 22, 2011

    BTW I’m stealing this idea one day.

  12. Ronda Ceynar · January 24, 2011

    Wow-as a youth group co-leader with my husband, who just had this exact conversation, we’re constantly trying to find new ways to keep Sunday School and Youth Group exciting and fun. Of course the kids want to come for the fun stuff, but seems we have a few who aren’t committed for the long haul. What to do? I guess we just keep showing them love, hanging in there, and we do talk about this occasionally with the kids. We are tentatively planning a parent meeting at this point. We want to also try an experiment where one of us doesn’t show up some night and tell the kids that he or I didn’t want to come. We had something “more important” to do. It may be interesting to see how it makes them feel…I’ll keep you posted.

  13. Kathryn · January 25, 2011

    I appreciate your boldness. You have said (wrote) exactly what I have felt for a long time and wish we had ways to say it!

  14. Dot Norman · February 1, 2011

    Is this copyrighted? Can I use this, with credit to you, in our church newsletter??? Please?
    Dot Norman
    Children’s Ministry Director

    • Anonymous · February 1, 2011

      That’s cool! Just leave a link to the website. Thanks for the comment!