Bob and Carol were an amazing couple. As a young husband and father I looked up to them as role models. They were godly. They had a strong marriage. Every Sunday their family sat together in church. They even homeschooled their kids. I hoped that someday Jana and I could have a marriage and family as solid as theirs.
One day, in passing, I asked Bob why he didn’t attend the mid-week service. “Oh, that’s our family night.”
I was impressed. We tried family night a time or two, but with small kids it felt impossible. I wished I had the discipline these folks had. But, I also thought: Why not come to church and use any other night for family night?
I also noticed they didn’t put their kids in the children’s ministry and youth programs. That was a little different but these were awesome parents and I could sure see great value in having the kids sit with them at church.
Time passed and something weird happened. As Bob and Carol’s kids went off to college I noticed their kids didn’t attend church. When my kids left home for college or work they not only immediately found a church but they got active serving in that church.
I couldn’t figure it out. I was such a lousy parent compared to Bob and Carol. Our “family nights” consisted of dumping our kids in the nursery, kids church and later youth group while we attended the adult service. I was never able to pull off consistent home devotions. We sure weren’t the model family. Why were my kids passionate about God, while the kids in this “perfect family” were running from God as soon as they could break free?
Bob and Carol could have been a fluke, but I’ve seen this same pattern over and over – great parents but their kids leave the church.
I didn’t give it much thought until folks started asking me why my kids never ran from God? As a pastor I wanted to help them keep their kids on the right path but I had no idea what made the difference. I prayed and asked the Lord.
You’ve probably heard “Family first. Don’t get so busy with church activities that your family suffers.” While I agree with that I think we get into trouble if we forget our family is just a tiny part of something much bigger – God’s family.
It’s dangerous to separate our family from the bigger picture. The kids were seeing that their family gatherings at home had priority over gathering with other believers. It says “we” (my family) are more important than “WE” (the Family of God).
No one intended it but they were being taught that their family was the center of the universe around which everything else revolves – rather than God and His people being the center around which our lives rotate.