Although he recently said some great stuff about redemption, I think Mark Wahlberg is mistaken here:
The problem with his view is that there is an assumption that kids can just figure it out for themselves. We don’t do that with non-spiritual things (“Hey, he’ll pick up piano on his own…”) and if we honestly believe there are eternal consequences to making the right decision, as parents we must lay the foundation for a correct choice.
You can force your kids to go to church with you (and you should), but…in the end…you cannot force them to drink the living water (see John 4:10). If you dont “force” them to do what is spiritually beneficial, it’ll be like allowing them to choose between a healthy plate of vegetables or ice cream. The likelihood that they will choose wrongly is huge, especially since the worldly buffet is not just vegetables versus ice cream…it is vegetables versus myriad other unhealthy options that “taste better” to our fallen natures.
Also, don’t forget, when you are avoiding “forcing” your kids into faith, the devil has no compunctions against evangelizing the young ones under your care into hell. He’s not out there saying, “Let’s just let Sally decide on her own.” (“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
My parents gave me a choice when I was 6-ish whether I wanted to continue to go to Sunday school (I don’t think they were attending at all). You can guess how I (regrettably) chose. Praise God He didn’t give up on me, and I found faith later in life. But, I didn’t know him in the most formative years, and that is a tragedy of sorts, not just for me, but for those who I hurt.
P.S. I discuss the “great stuff about redemption” Wahlberg said here: