How to Help Your Children Leave the Church

Rev. Wes Bredenhof of the Langley Canadian Reformed Church lets us know what we can do to ensure that the next generation will not worship with us.

1.  Gripe and complain about the church endlessly.  Make sure that your children hear your complaining.  Never, ever say anything positive about the church and certainly never pray for the church and for the pastors, elders, and deacons.

2.  Become a oncer.  Communicate to your children that you don’t need the ministry of the Word and sacraments and they don’t really need it either.  You’ve heard it all before anyway.  Make it clear that God’s call to worship doesn’t apply to your family.

3.  Frequent other (especially non-Reformed) churches.  Tell them that the differences are not all that great and we all basically believe the same things anyway — except these other churches have far more joy.   Also, be sure to get your children involved in the activities of other churches wherever you can.  It will be good for them to broaden their horizons.

4.  Make church attendance optional.  If they don’t feel like going to church, don’t make it sound like going to church is like going to school or to the dentist.  If they don’t want to, you shouldn’t make them.  It has to be a matter of the heart.  Tell them that they have to want to go.

5.  Similarly, make catechism attendance optional.  If they don’t feel like going, certainly don’t make them.  Here too, it has to be from the heart.  Whatever you do, don’t support the efforts of your pastor to catechize your children.  Don’t check to make sure they’re memorizing the catechism, don’t check to see if they’re doing their homework, and don’t bother making sure they’re prepared for class.

6.  Do not sing from the Book of Praise [ed. I would add the ‘Psalter Hymnal’] in your home.  You do not want to communicate to your children that you actually appreciate the Psalms and Hymns of the church.  You do not want them to embrace these songs and actually think that there may be some value to them.

7.  Deliberately move far enough away from the church so that meaningful involvement in the life of the church becomes impossible.  Do not take any opportunity to move closer.

8.  Do not teach your children about the importance of giving your first fruits to the Lord.  Never speak to your children about financial contributions to the church.  Be sure to set them an example by never or rarely giving yourself.  If you do give something, make sure that it’s something from what’s left over and do it grudgingly.  Say things like, “Well, we have a little extra this month, maybe we can give something to the church to get the elders off our back.”

9.  Do not send them to the Christian school the other children from the congregation attend.  Instead, send them to a school where they will learn about the “catholicity” of the faith.  Or, send them to a public school so they can be Davids and Daniels for the Lord.  If you homeschool them, make sure they develop closer bonds with other homeschoolers than with the people in your own church.

10.  Say nothing about their friends or about potential marriage partners.  When it comes to friends, encourage them to look for friends to whom they can be a light and a witness — they should have as many unbelievers for friends as possible.  When it comes to marriage partners, tell them, “The only thing that matters is that he/she loves the Lord.”

In short, do everything you can to communicate that the church is merely a human organization or a club where you can come and go as you please.  Make it clear that the church is not your spiritual mother (Gal. 4:26), not the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23), not the bride for which Christ died and which he loves (Eph. 5:25), and definitely not the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

See the whole post here (the link has now expired but you can read Rev. Bredenhof’s blog at


One thought on “How to Help Your Children Leave the Church

  1. Just a caveat to #9. I believe that this is correct in principle but we might also remember that the Canadian Reformed Churches in the Lower Mainland have their own school(s), elementary and high school, right on the Langley CanRC property, as well as others in nearby communities.

    In other words if a Reformed Christian school is available that your (our church) support we would be wise to send our children there as opposed to somewhere else.

    I want this to be clear because of the situation in our congregation, yet, at the same time, the matter might be valid for many some in Reformed circles.

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