Family Matters: Why the church serves as a supplement to the family
I grew up during the 1990's, so naturally I tend to argue that this was the "greatest" era of television. Full House, Saved by the Bell, and Boy Meets World all impacted my generation, but one show I regularly watched was Family Matters.
Family Matters was about a middle-class African-American family from the Chicago suburbs. The premise of the show was based around the core family, the "Winslows" who share a home along with some extended family members and whom are regularly frequented by their eccentric neighbor, Steve Urkel, the character who famously coined the phrase, "Did I dooooooo thatttttttttttt."
The appeal of the show for myself and others was that no matter the circumstances, the family unit, led by father Carl Winslow & mother Harriette, always remained united in their decision making. Whether their son Eddie got in trouble for pulling a prank, or their daughter Laura sought to go on a date with a less than reputable individual, whatever the situation, the emphasis of the show was fundamentally based around the show's title that family, does indeed, matter.
Today, as we reflect on culture, we generally see a lot of life lessons and values move from being taught in the home, to instead being "farmed" out to the school's, church's, recreational sports/activities, and beyond. Teachers, pastors, and coaches, are seen as the one's who are responsible to teach our children how to think, speak, act, and believe. Actually, if we are lucky, it is these individuals, but oftentimes, our children discover life through the point of view of celebrities, politicians, the media, and Saturday morning cartoons.
God's word tells us in Proverbs 22:6 that we ought to, "Train up a child in the way they should go; even when they are old they will not depart from it." More fundamentally, God's people were commanded in Deuteronomy 6:7 to, "teach the commands of God diligently to your children, and 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." It is in the home that a child learns the ways in which they should go the Bible says. In the home, a child learns and understands who God is and how he has invited them to be sons and daughters in his eternal family.
Our world is broken. We all definitely recognize that. The modern family dynamic reflects the reality that things are not as they are supposed to be. The effects of the fall of mankind, beginning in Genesis 3, have directly impacted all of life, including the family. However, it is through you family, and primarily through you, that you have the greatest opportunity to impact your child.
Author Reggie Joiner, in his book Think Orange, states that the "church exists to shine a light into the darkness, a light that highlights God's goodness and reveals God's Son, in order that the world can understand and know him." While stating this truth, he also notes how the church on average spends approximately 40-50 hours a year with a child, while a child spends more than 3,000 hours a year in the home. Talk about a major time disparity!
What's my point? Family, we the church need you. We are here, we love your kids, we desire for them to grow into men and women who worship God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength and who profess Jesus Christ as Lord. However, our time and resources are so limited! Allow us to supplement you, to support you, to pray with you and for you. But recongize that you, you as the family, have the God-given blessing and responsibility of raising up your child, teaching them the ways they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from those ways.
Family matters. We love you.
WCC Director of Children's Ministries