Yes, I make my kids “go to church.”

Yes, they go every Sunday and Wednesday. No, they do not have a choice. Yes, Marsha and I would still hold to this even if I was not a pastor, just like we do when we are on vacation.

The reason “go to church” is in quotations is because no one really “goes to church.” Rather, we gather with the church for worship, fellowship, service, etc., as the church is not a building but a family of believers. That is an entirely different article for a different day, though.

Today, I want to address why Marsha and I will always make our kids (as long as they are under our authority, of course) gather with the church. And, I think you should do the same with your children.

In fact, I will go so far as to say, I believe it is bad parenting to not have your children regularly involved with a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching local church. Now, I realize a statement like that can get me in trouble and can certainly come across as arrogant and/or unsympathetic to parents who would maybe like to see their children involved with a church but have a tough time convincing them of the importance.

Thankfully, because Marsha and I are followers of Jesus and have been active church members ourselves since before we were married, we have had our children involved with our local church since they were born. They have grown up with church as a part of their lives. Thus, they do not push back and do not request “skipping church” like many children might be prone to do.

I realize there are parents who come to faith in Christ, for example, and they have teenagers who have never really been involved with a church. Now, these parents face the struggle of leading their children to value and prioritize active church involvement. That surely has to be much more difficult than it is for me to convince my children to be involved with church. While I still believe parents in such situations should require their children to attend church services, I understand that the consistency and willingness may take some time.

Now, why do I feel so strongly about this? The simple answer is because I love my children, and I firmly believe that loving and caring for my children means doing what is best for them.

Do my children want to go to school? No. Every single one of them would gladly stay home and play rather than go to school if we would let them. Guess what, though? We make them go to school. An education is important, and so whether your preference is homeschool, private school or public school, I believe you should make your children get an education.

Do my children want to eat anything besides junk food? Not really, besides the occasional exceptions. Guess what, though? We make them eat healthy foods. Well, we try to make them. We obviously do not force-feed our children, but we do try to make sure they get as much of a balanced diet as we can feasibly facilitate. Any parents who would simply allow their children to always decide what to eat, regardless of the sugar and/or lack of nutrition, surely would not be considered wise and good parents, at least not in that area of parenting.

Education and health are important, so we make our children receive an education, and we make our children eat healthy foods. Do you know what is even more important than education and health? The answer is a right relationship with God. Why, then, would we possibly fail to value church like we value school and eating right?

Active church involvement plays a critical role in one’s Christian discipleship journey (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12), and so not only do we as parents need to make sure we are involved with a healthy church. We also need to make sure our children are, if we want them to learn biblical truth and become biblical disciples.

“Well, Nick, what if I force my kids to go, and that then pushes them away when they get older? I want them to make the decision for themselves.”

Honestly, I do not buy this excuse for a few reasons…

  1. We would never have this mindset with other things we consider important, like school. No not everyone is meant to go to college, but everyone needs some sort of education and needs to be prepared for a lifetime of learning. A good education helps with that, and we would never let the fear of “driving them away” keep us from educating our children. Why? Because education is important. Well, God is even more important, so let us make sure our children are educated about Him, too.
  2. If we as parents live out our faith like we should by loving God with our entire being and loving others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40), and if our children see that faith through our daily lives and active church involvement, then it is highly unlikely that we will “push them away” by having them involved with a church. Rather, they will see the amazing benefits and fruit of faith and church.
  3. Even if they do not decide to do what is right when they become adults, does that mean we should stop modeling and expecting what is right while they are children? Of course not. Ultimately, they will have to make their own decisions, but it is our job to train them up in the way they should go and trust that when they are older, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).
  4. What is the best way for us to teach our children how to make the right decisions in life? Is it not by teaching them, modeling it for them, and expecting it from them? How can we possibly do any of those things if we let them decide for themselves what is best for them? It is our job as parents to make sure they learn rightly and are in the best environment to do so.

Do you love your children? I am sure you do. Please hear my plea to get them involved with a healthy church – a church that believes and teaches the Word of God and makes disciples of Jesus Christ.

See if you can find a set of parents who raised their children in a healthy church and modeled their faith at home, who would now say, “That was a mistake. I wish I wouldn’t have made my children be involved with church.” I have never met anyone who said that, and I bet you will not either.

A healthy church will not push your children away. You will. Or, they themselves will harden their hearts and choose not to follow Jesus. So, do your best, while they are under your authority, to help them follow the Only One who can give them eternal life.

Tomorrow morning with Richland Baptist Church, I will be preaching through Mark 13, encouraging people to consider what we must understand about the end times and how we must respond. Are you ready for the return of Jesus Christ? Are your children ready? You, more than anyone else, are responsible for making sure they are. Active church involvement is at least one of, if not the, best and most important ways for you to do that.

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Ice Cream Cake! Our three oldest sons enjoy some church family fellowship time after our evening worship service last Sunday.
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Merry Christmas from the Drakes!

Trust in the Lord will all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Advent Season is here. The prophecies about the Messiah came true! “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us’” (Matthew 1:23).

Merry Christmas! Our family is doing well, and we hope you and yours are doing well, too. A lot has happened in 2017, so here is a quick family update…

As you’ve likely heard by now, we are a family of seven! Our whole family, along with my mom and Marsha’s parents, went to China in May to adopt our son Micah. If you’re counting, that made five adults and five children. By God’s grace and provision, the trip went well, and there is one less orphan in the world.

Micah (age 2) is doing really well so far, as he has fit right in with our family in the seven months he has been with us. Bonding well with everyone, he loves playing with his siblings (who are all amazing with him), and is definitely a mommy’s boy, which we’ve learned is pretty standard for a 2-year-old. He has quickly picked up on the need to be rough and tough with three big brothers and a big sister who holds her own. We praise God for adding Micah to our family this year and can’t imagine life without him!

Noah (age 12) is in sixth grade and is really liking middle school life. He is learning to play the saxophone this year, using the same saxophone that his great grandpa Ralph Sorum used many years ago. Getting ready for the start of basketball season, Noah is also cheering loudly (and proudly) for the Minnesota Vikings. Skol! Most importantly, Noah is growing in his relationship with Jesus Christ and staying actively involved with our church family and the church youth group. He will be joining me and some other people from our church for a mission trip to Guatemala (orphan ministry and church outreach) this coming June.

Levi (age 11) is in fifth grade and is thrilled that he, unlike his big brother, still gets to have recess during every school day. 🙂 He is learning to play the guitar, and I’m hoping that he’ll one day help with worship music in our church. Also looking forward to basketball season and being a big Vikings fan, Levi does a lot with Noah, and I’m enjoying them more and more as they grow up. Professing faith in Christ and getting baptized in 2016, Levi is also active with our church family and is great with his younger siblings when not pestering them.

Silas (age 7) is in first grade, and even though he would much rather be outside playing than be in the classroom, he is tolerating school just fine. This will be Silas’ first year to play basketball, and we might have some difficulties convincing him that tackling opposing players is not the best way to get the ball. Thankfully, Silas continues to ask great questions about God and the Bible, and it is evident God is at work in his heart.

Zoe (age 6) is in kindergarten and is loving school, just as we expected she would. By far the most social of all the Drakes, Zoe doesn’t really know a stranger. She played soccer for the first time this fall and had a great time. Don’t let her friendly smile fool you, though, for she has a very competitive side that comes out on the field and hopefully will on the basketball court someday, too. Although listening isn’t her greatest strength when she’s in TeamKID and family groups (with our church), she is clearly learning and also asking some good questions about the Lord. We appreciate your continued prayers for Silas, Zoe and Micah to all have a clear understanding of the gospel and to respond in repentance and faith.

Marsha is continuing what I believe to be one of the toughest jobs in the world – being a stay-at-home mother. She never gets a day off and gets very few breaks, but she still loves her calling. Praise the Lord for all she does for our family at home and for our church family as a family group leader, TeamKID leader, nursery worker and prayer team member. She makes all of our roles so much easier and more fulfilling.

I have been the pastor of Richland Baptist Church in Kingdom City, MO, for a little over four years now. What a blessing! I love my job, and I love our church family! If you’re ever interested in keeping up with what’s happening with our church and/or listening to my sermons, you can visit MyRichland.org or get the free MyRichland app for your mobile device. Family pictures and updates, although infrequent, can be seen here at DrakeCity.com.

More important than a family update or Christmas letter, a right relationship with God is what we plead with you to pursue with all your heart this year. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Praise God for this amazing promise!

If you ever have any questions about what it means to have a personal relationship with God, please know that we would always be happy to talk with you and pray with you. There is nothing more important in this life (or the next) than making sure we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ and walk faithfully with Him. Please contact us if you have any questions or prayer requests.

Merry Christmas and God bless you!

Thankless Heroes

Richland Baptist Church TeamKID Preschool
Richland Baptist Church
TeamKID Preschool

Churches often recognize a sermon that is preached, a meal that is served, a baptism that is performed, a Bible study that is led and other visible ministries. What often goes overlooked, though, is the ministry that so many faithful servants have with children, particularly preschool children. Children that age obviously don’t think to thank their teachers and leaders. Most of the church never knows what goes on in the nursery and preschool room – how thankless the ministry can be, how exhausting it is, how few people volunteer to help, and how much time leaders spend preparing while knowing that most of the kids will pay little attention to the teacher’s efforts.

I believe, though, that volunteers who work with our children and youth are the unsung heroes of the church. They are in the basement (both literally in our church building and figuratively), but their ministry is of a critically high calling. Praise God for them! They are more superheroes than I as a pastor will ever be.

I am particularly thankful for Marsha and Katie – the two women who are with our church’s preschoolers every single Sunday morning during Family Groups, at least one Sunday morning each month during worship, every Wednesday evening during adult prayer meeting and Bible study, and even many Sunday evenings during Life on Mission. In fact, not only do they do this as a ministry for the church, but they are also mothers to preschoolers.

My wife, Marsha, is a stay-at-home mother. That means she’s used to all this, right? “It should be easy for her to spend most of her church ministry time with her two youngest children and other children their age.”

Sadly, I’ve heard comments like that before. I can’t recall a time, though, when I’ve heard people thanking my wife for serving the preschoolers or serving in the nursery. Now, in fairness, I trust there are people who do thank her, as we have the privilege of being part of an amazing church family that is very gracious and loving. Because I don’t hear appreciation for those serving “in the basement,” though, I’m honestly afraid to ask my wife if she feels appreciated. I know I appreciate her and tell her that, but I don’t tell her nearly enough. Do I thank her each time she leaves the edifying adult conversations in the foyer or fellowship hall in order to go downstairs with sometimes unruly children? No. Instead, I take her for granted.

I fear there are many more who take her and the other unsung heroes in our church for granted, too. This is probably the case in most churches. Next time you drop your kids off in the nursery, in a Sunday School room, or in the youth area, be sure to thank the leader(s). Then, when you go to pick up your children, be sure to thank the leader(s) again. Write them notes of encouragement. Make sure they realize how much you appreciate their sacrifice.

Of course, there are many thankless ministries in our church and in every church. We as Christians need to do a better job of showing our appreciation and encouraging those who serve the Lord by serving His church. “God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:24b-26).

While I and many like me do not show our appreciation like we should, God will reward these faithful servants for their sacrifice and faithfulness. Let’s do better, though. Let’s be thankful and show our appreciation. Not sure if you’ve shown enough appreciation? Then show some more. Let’s err on the side of being abundantly appreciative, not secretly thankful.