I ran into a parent this morning that I haven’t seen at church in a very long time. His family came for a while, then became hit and miss, then missing all together. Their child of youth group age never really came to youth group. I let the parent know that their family was greatly missed at church. The dad then began to list the reason why they are missing. The main reason is the dad is working sun up to sun down seven days a week. Because of this now the entire family misses church each week.
I fully understand the need to do extra work to make extra income. It’s not cheap to live where we live, our groceries cost more, our gas cost more, our housing is expensive. But I don’t understand removing one’s family from the care of the local church.
As youth pastors and those of us who work with children and students we can get extremely frustrated when families just sort of drift away. We know it’s not usually and all of the sudden choice of the parents. It begins by a miss here and there and then that becomes easier and easier until they can miss totally out on being an active part in the church that they joined and committed to at one point and missing no longer phases them. I won’t say it doesn’t impact them because the choice to withdraw your family from the church does have an impact.
1. It sets a bad example to the children. Church is an “optional” part of our faith and when we allow schedules get busy it is easy to just drop out on our participation in church.
2. It teaches our kids that other things in life take priority over corporate worship. Things that will not last into eternity, you know the temporal stuff. Some parents in their effort to teach their children to be committed to the team miss out on teaching their children to what it means to be committed to Christ and His bride.
3. The parents are making a decision to remove their family from the safety of the fold. Probably more often than not that decision is an unconscious one but there are times that the decision is a clear and conscious one.
The wolves are out there. When we disconnect from the rest of the flock in the safety of the fold we are putting ourselves and more importantly our children out in the wild where the wolves will ravage our family. It shows the parents lack of understanding what the church is all about and how they fit into the church. God shaped each of us to serve in our church. God expects us to give generously to our church. God expects us to be encouraged and encourage others in worship with our church. (Hebrews 10:25) Some would say, “It’s not about my relationship with the church, it’s about my relationship with God.” Yes, it is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ and God uses the church to help us grow and to protect us. To reject the church is to reject God’s plan for our lives as believers. Are there unhealthy churches out there? For sure. I hope if you are reading this you are not in one but if you are I pray you are taking steps to turn your church back towards health.
Some would say my point of view would be a bit drastic. But from what I have read and studied the New Testament and I understand that:
> Jesus died for the church
> The church is the bride of Christ
> The church is God’s idea
> Jesus builds the church
> Every book from Acts to Revelation is about the local church and living our faith out in community. The Gospels are about what Christ did for the church.
Why wouldn’t a loving Christian parent want their family involved in the church they committed to? Why remove the family from the support and protection of the church to face the wolves that await outside the fold?
In Part 2 I’ll look at what the wolves are and how we can help protect families.