I have spent a great deal of time in prayer preparing for this final part of my blog “Where are you”. Over the past weeks I have discovered some startling statistics that are troubling and sadly a very negative reality of our times. Fathers are becoming more and more absent in the family and in their relationship with God.
According to the Barna Group in their series on the state of the church:
- Church attendance declined by six percentage points among men, The research showed that the proportion of men who had attended a church service, other than a special event such as a wedding or funeral, during the week prior to their survey interview fell from 42% to 36%.
- Sunday school attendance declined by eight percentage points among men since 1991. Only one out of eight men (13%) presently attends such a meeting in a typical week.
- The percentage of men who volunteer at a church during a typical week has slipped by six percentage points since 1991 to its present level of 18%.
- The proportion of unchurched men has grown by nine percentage points since 1991. Today an estimated 39% of all men can be deemed unchurched – that is, having not attended a church event, other than a special service such as a wedding or funeral, in the past six months.
These are some chilling numbers. 36% of men attend church and of those only 13% are attending some sort of Sunday school. 39% of all men are considered “unchurched”….having never attended a church service in the past six months. Men and Fathers, we are abandoning our place on a regular basis. God calls us to be the spiritual leaders of our families… to teach and lead our wives and children in the knowledge and ways of the Lord. Deuteronomy 6 (The Shema) lays out the role of the father in the home.
“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:7-9)”
Sadly the numbers do not stop there. We are abandoning our homes and families at an alarming rate. In the United States there are 9.9 million single mothers living with children under 18 in 2010. This is up from 3.4 million in 1970. Where are the men and fathers? Why are we absent from our God ordained place? Too often we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in the world and the pursuit of things. Society has encouraged us to place our identity on our jobs. We often try to justify it by saying that we are providing our family’s with the things they need (or the things we never had as a child). When the true things our wives and children need are us. In the pursuit of this worldly identity we are gone from the home more than we are there. We find ourselves sitting at our childs graduation wondering where the time went. How many of us have missed the first steps, first words, or first milestones. When we are there we are not engaged with the family or even more so with our God. As I was riding home today I was listening to Chuck Swindoll and he had a powerful quote.
“Your wife did not marry your paycheck, she married you!”
Men, if God took you home today. In two days when your wife and family are standing by a pile of fresh turned earth they will not be thinking of your career or the hobbies you had. Their hearts will be longing for you! For the time that they did not have with you! The time is now for men in this nation to stand up and be counted as men of Christ. To define their role in their families as the spiritual leader of the home. To train up and lead our children.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4)”
The time is now to put aside the distractions of this age. The modern idols and to lead your family by action and deed. When it comes to media in our homes (TV, Movies, papers) we are the primary consumers. Can we not turn off the TV and spend some time with the Lord? According to a University of Michigan study more than 70% of children ages 8-18 have a TV in their bedroom. The Kaiser Family Foundation also conducted research on the media habits of children ages 8 to 18. Kaiser found that on average, this age group spends 4½ hours each day watching TV in various forms, including on their mobile phones and the Internet. A child will witness over 8,000 murders on television before they finish elementary school.
Can we walk away from these idols for some time with God each day. We are willing to devote a large chunk of our time to distractions but not willing to give it to God. How much time do we devote each week to hobbies, sports, or sitting in front of the television? On the other side how much time do you spend in quiet contemplation or prayer? How much time do we spend reading God’s word? Can we give 30 minutes or an hour of our day to Him?
I am not telling everyone to sell the TV, quit playing golf, and move to a monastery. I am only asking the question. How much time do we give to our families and our God? Take a moment and measure it up. When the final day comes (and it will) are you ready to stand before the throne of God and give an accounting of the time you were given? Will our Father in heaven care about you softball stats or your golf handicap? The one thing He will care about is how you served the kingdom during your time on earth. Fathers and husbands, take the time to review your role as the spiritual leader of your family. To review your relationship with your heavenly Father. I for one am willing to stand up and be counted. To stand up and lead my family in the ways of the Lord! Are you willing? Will you join me and be counted?
I am willing to ask the question of my fellow brothers in Christ. My fellow travelers on this Journey.
Fathers – Where are you?
- Car 54 Where are you? (dadsjourneyoffaith.com)
- Children In Worship – Let’s Bring It Back (via Jason Helopoulis) (garyware.me)
- The Most Unlikely of Heroes (challies.com)