Men: Raising Men (3)
As go the men, so goes the church. There is not a verse in Scripture for that, but there are many allusions to the importance of men in raising men. Men have a tough role of providing for their family and leading them spiritually. It’s easy to relegate spiritual responsibility to the mother, especially if she is not working. The man works hard all day and is tired when he comes home. He’s looking for ways to make life easier. Patience and perseverance in raising children in godly ways is not easy.
It happened almost two hundred years ago that Sunday Schools were founded. Prior to that, family spiritual growth depended on parents and the pastor, as children sat with their parents in church. But in the early 1800s, a great assist was founded for helping families and it was structured within the church.
“Whereas in 1820 Protestants had thought about children’s religious experiences primarily in terms of family and church, by 1880 it was impossible to conceive of them without reference to the Sunday school. During the nineteenth century, this new institution became the primary locale – outside of the family – for religious indoctrination of Protestant youth. In the annals of church history the saga of Sunday school was unique, involving…the creation of a new institution to fulfill functions previous entrusted to parents and pastors…” – Ann Boylan (provided by Jeremy Thomas)
While Sunday school is a good thing, man and parents, generally speaking, transferred spiritual development to Sunday School over a period of 60 years. There was nothing intentional or evil in the initiation of Sunday School. It was a great blessing to many parents, especially parents who were not discipled by their own parents. Yet, slowly, families became dependent on Sunday School in the church and less spiritual training was accomplished in the home. After all, that way there was less conflict in the home and parents would support Sunday School teachers.
Furthermore, youth ministry has had an abundance of youth ministry aids, like youth pastors, magazines and music and while youth leaders are pouring their hearts into the youth, the expected results are not as visible. Alvin Reid observes,
“It is obvious that youth ministry in America has not produced a generation of young people who are passionate about the church…the number of full time youth pastors has grown dramatically and a plethora of magazines, music, and ideas aimed at youth have been birthed along the way. Meanwhile…the numbers of young people won to Christ dropped at about as fast a rate.” – Alvin Reid (provided by Jeremy Thomas)
It might look like the problem exists with the youth ministry. In most cases not at all. Youth ministries are thinking of everything they can to help raise young people. The problem rests with the family. Families are not raising up men and women that are hungering for truth and passionate about service. There are many zealous youth, but not like the youth of 40 years ago.
We have to place responsibility where God places it. Solomon exhorts his sons to listen and take heed to his teaching,
Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine: Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son, Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me: “Let your heart retain my words; Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. (Pro. 4:1-5)
Fathers are responsible to exhort and be diligent to teach their children (Deut. 6:1-9). Unfortunately, when children do not respond or worse, rebel, parents let their responsibility slide, because they do not want conflict and do not know how to raise children to the holiness of God. As children become indifferent, fathers become indifferent to God’s mandates to raise up godly children,
4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4)
When fathers become indifferent, they are in rebellion against God’s calling and God’s mandate.
I would never blame Sunday School for the state in which we are living now. The responsibility rests solely with the family and specifically with us fathers. Are you willing to teach Father greatness to your children?1 Are you willing to take your rightful position as head of your family and lead them to the throne of grace?
Let’s not blame anyone else for whether our children are following the Lord or not. Let’s take personal responsibility and man-up to God’s calling. If you have any questions or need mechanics, let me know.
1See the message delivered on March 17 and posted on March 18, 2013, “Get a Grip on Father Greatness.”