Do you ever think about the function that Church fulfils in the life of a child who only attends church because his parents do? Just like we feed our children vegetables because it is objectively good for them even if they don’t share that conviction, and just like we teach our children an array of subjects at school even if they don’t understand the need for some of them, so we also take our children with us to church even if they have not turned from their sin to follow Jesus.
On top of that basic common sense that applies to vegetables, school subjects, and church alike, there are also the more significant reasons why we take our, still unconverted, children with us to church. It is still the place where they will learn the truths about their Creator. It is also still the place where they will be taught the spiritual realities about themselves, their hearts, and their actions. Just because a child might not yet confess all of this as their own beliefs, does not make it any less true or any less relevant to them.
Church is also the place where they observe, even if not intentionally, what it means to worship God. Dad’s singing, the open Bible on Mom’s lap, and the public prayers of the saints are all modelling worship to them in much the same way as seeing a police officer on patrol makes little boys want to be a policeman. Because they themselves show little interest in worship, they need it modelled clearly.
Ephesians 6:4 requires of parents to bring up their children. But of all the things required in raising children—nutrition, clothing, safety, health, education, life-skills, social skills, friendships—the one that is emphasised in that verse is bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Make spiritual conversation part of your daily child-raising practises (Dt 6:7), and make Church meetings part of your weekly child-raising habits (Mt 19:13-15).
And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.Jeremiah 32:38-39 (ESV)