How can Pastors and the Parents team together for the sake of the home and the church?
One of the dangers of the Christian life is to rely too heavily on the pastor or the church leadership to nurture the family in the Christian faith. There is no teaming together with the pastor and the parents. This default thinking can be disastrous.
Parents, instead of leading spiritually in the home with family worship and discipleship, leave the responsibility of spiritual development in the hands of the pastor or Sunday school teacher.
When this happens, there can be a growing disconnect of the activities with the church and the activities in the home. Children begin to wonder how important is prayer and Bible reading.
“Why should I read the Bible?”
“Why should I pray?”
“We don’t do this at home much.”
“I guess this is just a church thing, not something I should do everyday.”
As I have been in different churches (before I became a pastor), thankfully, I have had pastors encourage the parents to lead their children in spiritual development.
But not all church leaders lead in this way. Church leadership at times fail to encourage parents to read the Bible at home or pray, much less sing with each other.
I can say from a pastor’s/father’s perspective that if there is little encouragement outside of church activities to read the Bible in the home along with praying and singing, this is a very unhealthy situation for the family.
Without the practice of family worship, there is a tendency to be more like functional atheists in the home.
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So here is some great wisdom from a great pastor a long time ago. His name is Richard Baxter (1615-1691). In his book called The Reformed Pastor (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), he states strongly and correctly the need for pastors to encourage the congregation for true reformation in the home.
Baxter writes (emphasis, mine):
“If we suffer the neglect of this, we undo all. What are we like to do ourselves to the reforming of a congregation, if all the work be cast on us alone, and masters of families will let fall that necessary duty of their own, by which they are bound to help us! If any good be begun by the ministry in any soul in a family, a careless, prayerless, worldly family is like to stifle it, or very much hinder it. Whereas, if you could but get the rulers of families to do their part, and take up the work where you left it, and help it on, what abundance of good might be done by it! (as I have elsewhere showed more at large). I beseech you, therefore, do all that you can to promote this business, as ever you desire the true reformation and welfare of your parishes!” [from Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (Morgan, PA: Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000), 384, as found in A Theology of The Family, edited by Jeff Pollard and Scott T. Brown)]
Four reasons, then, for Pastors to encourage family discipleship in the home, per Pastor Baxter:
- If we don’t, “we undo all” in the home.
- A careless, prayerless, worldly family will stifle the ministry of the church for the home.
- Get the leaders of the family to do their part and, wow, what abundance of good!
- Promote this business of family discipleship for true reformation and the blessing of the parish.
So, the reminder for pastors is the same for the parents in the home: Encourage family discipleship/worship! Let’s team together on this!
So, if you are a pastor reading this, how are you encouraging your congregation to be careful, prayerful, godly families that team together with you?
If you are father or mother, how are you encouraging your family to live for Christ in your home and for the sake of the church, the Body of Christ?