We’re well into summer now. Vacation time is a break for everyone. What about a break from church? Reminds me of a lesson I wished someone had taught me. ♦
Nothing like a long weekend or vacation plans to really let the guard down and relax yourself on all fronts. Kids are home from school, days are longer and the evenings are cool and relaxing. Even the roadways are lighter and less tense.
Ever had the kids come in and plead with you to skip Church on Sunday morning? “Please, Dad?” Actually the thought of sleeping in may have occurred to you yourself. Hey, it’s summer! They probably have a guest speaker anyway. Why not? We deserve a break! Let’s take it easy this morning.
And so you and the family skip a Sunday or two. Not the end of the world, right?
Of course not.
Actually, going to church regularly may be an ultimately bigger problem for you and your family.
“Well, 1 out of 3 Ain’t Bad”
Open confession: believe it or not, when my 3 kids were in middle school and high school I used to say “Well, 1 out of 3 ain’t bad?” I was not referring to church attendance. I was referring to each of my 3 children and referencing their own deep and abiding walk in Christian faith at the time.
All 3 of our kids were and are awesome, but in truth, during that period only 1 child at the time was serious in their Christian faith. The other 2 were highly productive students and could talk the Christian talk but were not in a deep place with their faith.
But we all piled in the van and went to church each Sunday. Oh, we took a break here and there, but for the most part, we were the good Christian family going to church each week.
- And the kids went to all the church camps throughout the year.
- And the kids went to all the mid-week church programs throughout the year.
- And the kids had their small church groups on Sunday with an adult leader who no doubt tried really hard to work them in developing their faith.
- And my wife and I served on church committees.
- And we had our own weekly adult small group meetings we attended.
- And I taught weekly evening Bible study classes.
- And my wife led her own weekly women’s Bible study group.
- And I was an Elder in the church.
The All-American Christian family.
What’s Wrong with this Picture?
I wish the man I am today was mentoring myself back then. The problem wasn’t so much the church we attended or the programs we all participated in.
The problem was me and my distractions. Yes, Men, as I’ve stated before, as the father goes, so goes the family. I was going through the busyness motions of work, business, church, ministry, activities, family, sports, etc., and was actually accepting the reality of ‘checked-out’ Christian kids.
In hindsight, what we had allowed was the outsourcing of Christian teaching and training to our church. That church, as do many churches, had a wonderful children’s, middle school and high school program, on Sundays and throughout the year. But it’s not a replacement or substitute for what the kids should be getting in the home.
And that’s where we got comfortable and busy and productive and happy in the classic Christian family syndrome where the family knows God, but God is mostly experienced on Sundays or at church events.
A God-Led Fix
Through a series of God-leading circumstances we ended up attending another church closer to home. One of our high school children started getting excited about expository Bible teaching sermons and redirected their life and faith in Jesus that continues deeply to this day. Another child returned to the faith of their youth after flexing their wings outside of church programs. All 3 children today are married and proactively raising our grandchildren in Christian homes, attending church, but also augmenting Biblical teaching outside of Sunday school.
The solution is not to change churches or to try to shelter our children from the real world. The key is to not rely on even well-run church programs and initiatives outside of the home for the spiritual upbringing of your family. Do not underestimate the impact a good church foundation gives them, just don’t get too comfy and think it stops there. It’s on you the parents.
And again, I pin it ultimately on the father of the household to lead the family – to get one’s own life and priorities in order with God so that He moves and convicts and directs and lives vibrantly in you. With that will come a revitalization of your whole home and family over time as you pray and teach and lead and mentor.
Are you a good church family? Might be time to wake up.
“Listen to your father, who gave you life…Buy the truth and do not sell it – wisdom, instruction and insight as well. The father of a righteous child has great joy; a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him.” – Proverbs 23:22-25