Monday, December 11, 2006

Lip service to our families

I’m re-reading “Ashamed of the Gospel” by John MacArthur. One point he makes in the book is this: If the church is to be strong, our families must be strong.

Strong families are the backbone of a nation and of our churches. Stability and economic opportunity flourish when the family is intact, but in visiting and observing other churches, I think we give lip service to our families.

Young families are over committed on all fronts; talk to them if you doubt this. Young families, young leaders have filled the gap in our churches. Many of them have rushed in to fill gaps as people in the church who are older have bought into the idea of “retirement”. All too often the ideas “I’ve done my share”; “I’m going to quit”; “Let the young people do it”; “The young people don’t listen to us anyway” seem to hold sway in our older people. (In case you’re wondering, older people are 50 and above.)

Our young families should be spending time with their families not burdened with church leadership. When the kids leave, that’s when we step up and lead. We’ve been operating with the wrong model, lead when you’re young, sit when you’re old.

If we believe that families are the backbone of our churches and culture, we should give them the “freedom” to learn and not lead. They should be attending Bible class not leading it. Their input and freshness and vitality is needed in our churches but the church has added burdens to our overstretched families, not lessened them. We need sensitivity and creative insight to help our young families so they can have more time for themselves, building a strong family unit.

Retirement from life has run full course in our churches. We believe we have a God-given right to sit down, enjoy the fat of the land, and bring on the good life. God help us-- We live in a land where our stomachs and bank accounts are full but our hearts are empty.

When the hair grows thin and gray, I believe we should crank up for some hard core leadership responsibilities and give our young families a break.

Rose Jergens is a hero to my wife Judi. Rose is well over 90 years old and is the mother of a girlhood friend of Judi’s. For the last 30 years Rose has babysat for many children. Every year she invites all the children (one now 30 years old!) to her home at Christmas time to decorate cookies; this year she’s made 800 cut-out cookies in preparation! Impressed? We should be; but she also operates a flower business, works at the hospital auxiliary gift shop, the thrift shop, provides and arranges altar flowers at church each week plus babysitting every afternoon.

When we embrace the idea of retirement from church, I believe it creates struggles for our faith in our later years. Engaged in life, having a purpose every day, and knowing that we are needed, seems to me to be the best motivator for a continued vibrant and alive Christian life. What has God gifted you to do? Do it!!

With the mobility of our culture, our children and grandchildren can live close or many miles away. In our midst, in our churches, we have families without Grandma’s and Grandpa’s living in the area. Step up, start here…kid’s need Grandma’s and Grandpa’s and Grandpa’s and Grandma’s need kids.

Look at scripture to see what God asks older Christians to do. Are we doing it? Or have we bought in to the idea of self-centered retirement? I believe it’s time to ask these hard hitting questions for the future of our families and the future of our churches depend on it.

Maximillian Kable, German Priest who was executed in World War II.said: “Indifference towards the things of God is the deadliest enemy of any soul.”

Scripture: Titus 2; I Peter 5:1-10; I Timothy 5; Luke 22:24-30.

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