We've all heard the song "A Letter from Camp."
"Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh. Here I am at Camp Granada. Camp is very entertaining. And they say we'll have some fun if it stops raining."
What's it going to take to make us all happy campers in church? I think I have a few ideas - so bear with me as I lay a foundation.
The song assumes that the "singer," a child, has two parents, one male and one female. But this blog is not about families - no - it's about church.
Presently, in most developed countries, the cultural status of the nuclear family is fractured. There is rampant divorce both in and out of the church, resulting in single parent families, and various other aberrations of the biblical family. Regardless of what the world thinks is politically correct, God has a standard.
I am assuming that you have noticed there is a difference between the way males and females act? The healthiest families are meant to have a father and a mother. I am not dissing single parent families - thank God one of you is taking the responsibility to raise your child!
The male is meant to be the leader and initiator (Father God), where the female is meant to be the nurturer and comforter (Holy Spirit). This does not mean that men cannot be nurturing, or that females cannot initiate. These are however; the "natural" and instinctive roles for men and woman.
Interestingly the church is designed to be the model of marriage, with Christ as the head, and the church submissive to His loving leadership. That's normal, regardless of how you "feel."
Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church"
In a marriage, a woman is not to be the head of the house, although she may feel the need to take over if the husband does not lead. The man is not created to be the one with the "nesting" instinct. These (and all) biblical principals are meant to bear fruit for the family by balancing love, grace, discipline, and submission. All are essential elements in a healthy relationship with Jesus.
Although grace has been available in the church since the beginning - much of that has come from Mother Church - she has held that name for nearly 1500 years. This understanding comes from Ephesians 5:23 (above). At best it is an incomplete revelation - and possibly a wrong interpretation of the scripture. Having a one parent church over the centuries has caused some problems in the church.
We are in the post-denominational era. It is an interesting time for the church global. Participation in denominational churches is subsiding in the US and elsewhere. The term "recovering Catholic" has been coined but it is commonly used to describe every other "recovering" denomination. The growth of non-denominational churches, although still seeing a decline in attendance, is doing a better job in attracting congregants than its denominational siblings. That's a fact, not an opinion.
Unfortunately all churches not only have declining attendance, but they also have an exodus of young people to other religions such as Islam and JCLDS, as well as followers of the paranormal and occult. This is sad news parents!
So, what does all this have to do with parenting, kids falling away and denominations? Everything! Let me explain.
The same thing that is going on in the world, for the most part, is going on in the church. Believers in our churches are parented in the same way many children are - with one parent. And in some cases a dysfunctional parent. In the worst cases, there is no parent at all!
Parent-less; but particularly fatherless believers show up at church every week looking for significance. Maybe you're one of them. As Christians, we need both spiritual fathers and mothers!
Do a word study on "father" and then do one on "mother," you'll see.
Look, I don't care how we got here, but we need to fix it. We need the church to act as both parents, not a parent. That means we need both fathering and mothering. Maybe you remember when you told you mom you were too sick to go to school. She got you and aspirin, and a cup of tea. But when your father came in he said, "If you are to sick to go to school, then you are too sick to play in the game after school.
You may remember your mother saying. "Wait until your father gets home." I do.
Fathers are to provide some "spine," it is part of who they are. Mothers are to be nurturing. It is part of who they are. And when both dynamics are part of church, we are much more likely to become disciples.
We need spiritual fathers and mothers, and we need them now!
And now for the good part. You can be a spiritual farther or mother. Woman you can dote on your kids with affection, and smother them with love. Fathers, you can take another male and teach him to be accountable, help him pray and make decisions that are good for him and his family. You can be affectionate, loving and hear confessions. You can be a family.
Sure, many of us have had bad modeling in terms of parents - particularly fathers. So? There are a lot of things we used to be, but then we met Jesus? Amen?
Think about it. You can find someone in your church or neighborhood and model God! You can bless them, laugh with them, cry with them, and take on their burdens. You can hug them and kiss them, and expect nothing in return. If you do, you will probably have a spiritual kids that you are proud of. A child that serves God, and loves others.
What's that you say? This wasn't done for you? Well, its got to start somewhere.
Next time you see a lonely teenager in the back row, grab them. Next time you hear someone say, "let's get together." DO IT!
What would it mean to you if someone who had invested something in your life said, "I am proud of you kiddo!" What would it mean to have a cheerleader for every decision? How would you feel if someone showed up at your game?
Me, I'd be a happy camper.