I have a quick question. How important is the Church to you? No this is not a trick question, but a serious inquiry. Pastor Daryl had the staff read a book about the decline in the evangelical church, and it got my attention. So after prayer, some study of surveys and other research, and a look at my own upbringing, I came to an answer I did not like. Too many Christians in America do not think the church is important.
If your child is in sports, you have them practice every day. You make sure they do their home fitness exercises, they have the equipment they need, and that they never miss a practice. My son is in the marching band, so for the last few weeks he has gone to marching practice every morning, plus told to practice the instrument each night. When he said he was too tired to go one morning, his mother and I said that was not an option. If he wanted to play, he had to do his part. Same with schoolwork. And a job…
Carl Trueman, Christian theologian, church historian, and Professor of Historical Theology and Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary, was asked about why churches today are losing their young people. Typical answers to this question range from things like the temptations of this world or the irrelevance of the church–your typical answers. But Trueman makes a keen and convicting connection about parenting and the church.
“The church is losing its young people because the parents never taught their children that it was important. I think that applies across the board. It applies to family worship, and it also applies to whether you are in church every Sunday and what priority you demonstrate to your children church has on a Sunday. If the sun shines out and their friends are going to the beach, do you decide to skip church and go to the beach? In which case, you send signals to your children that it is not important.”
That quote hit hard. Parents makes choices all the time for their families. As they decide on what takes priority in family, every choice is carefully observed and taken into the heart of their children. Yes, they are watching you, and they are learning from you.
Maybe the reason why so many fall away is due to the fact that we as parents do not show any love or passion for Christ, evidenced by how we prioritize our time both on Sundays and during the week. When television, sports, school, hobbies even family itself are elevated to be more important than time worshiping God, reading His scriptures, and time in prayer, and replace the vital Christian responsibilities, then we tell our children that Christ is secondary to all these things. We unintentionally tell our children that it is not necessary to take up your cross and die to yourself daily in order to follow Christ. We tell them that you only have to live for Christ when it’s convenient for you. We tell them it is okay to sacrifice time with all-satisfying Savior if something “more fun” or “more important” comes along. Remember the definition of idolatry is elevating anything above God.
Don’t think this is true? My son’s band has a boosters group. So many parents donate their time doing fundraising, concessions, and prep work. My son is not even registered, and I have been asked to volunteer, and to buy a pass for the family for all the games. I want to show my son he is important, so I buy the pass, and am looking at what I can do to help. Most of the parents do. And yet, we need nursery workers, kids church workers, and a teacher for the 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school.
Let’s evaluate where our hearts are by observing our choices. Do you prioritize the local church? Do you prioritize the worship of Christ in your home and on Sundays? Do you prioritize serving Him and worshiping Him in the contexts of school and work? This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever miss a Sunday, take a vacation, or that you can’t have any extracurricular activities. Instead, it is a sobering reminder that we shouldn’t put the things of God at the bottom of the priority list, because it tells our children that Christ is at the bottom of our priority list. And the God of this universe does not belong there.
As always thank you for the honor of being your Children’s Pastor.
Darin “Mr. Suspenderman” Roberts