Rev. Alan Rudnick is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ballston Spa and blogs @ http://onthebema.com and for the Times Union as their protestant religion blogger. In addition to being a Pastor and a blogger, Rev. Rudnick is also a husband and a dad for two wonderful children.
As a religious leader, I often ask people if they are interested in attending church. Many young couples say that they will start attending church when they have children. These young couples believe that their children will make them more involved in church. These couples want their children to have a moral grounding and the church is often a place that offers such ethical guidance. Many believe that empirical evidence backs their rationale. However, statistics tell a different story.
Where does this myth of children inspired church attendance come from? Certainly television, the media, and culture has influence our ideas about the nuclear family. The nostalgic Norman Rockwell paintings of children in church have embedded into our conscience that a family goes to church. They just do. However, popular mainstream notions of what families do are changing. No longer do ad companies portray the "average family" in their pitches because the make up of family has changed. The truth is, family dynamics are changing and stereotypes are challenged every day.
People should connect in a faith community for the right reasons. Churches are not just places of morality, but are places of spiritual depth, community, and love. Let us not conform to the stereotype of a family that goes to church because it is "what you do." Let us be people who find salvation, meaning, and direction in God for ourselves and our children.