It happened this last week- the school year began winding up! Teachers have sat through training meetings and open houses. Students began classes already or are dreading them starting this upcoming week. Extracurricular activities have already begun- band, cheer, sports, etc. A flurry of activity to say the least. Let me tell you about something else that takes place this time of year. Two different groups with two different responses. DISCLAIMER: I'm about to pull the "pastoral ministry curtain" back and give some insight.
The first group seems to find starting school as the catalyst to come back to church more regularly. "There is finally something for my children" as children's ministries begin again on Wednesday nights. Due to the early mornings, Sunday evening plans seem to change and Church is now an option rather than a family BBQ, the park, or a movie. Though they've backed off from assembling with the saints over the summertime, this time of the year seems to "pull them back in".
The second group seems to find starting school as the catalyst to assemble less frequently with Christ's Church. "The kids have to get to bed". "The kids have homework." "The kids have _______ practice." During the summer, they were assembled, under the Word, and building relationships; for the next 8 months, their habit will be much different. Summertime will roll around again and they will be back.
"Oh...no...he...didn't..." Oh, yes I did :)
Please allow me to walk through a few thoughts, trusting that my desire is not to be unkind but to encourage faith-based decisions.
The issue with both sets of parents represented above is that there is an elevation of temporal pursuits above spiritual ones.
For the first group: -Not having children's program is a no go. "Why would I bring them if there is nothing for them?" Contained within such a statement is a significant fallacy; it is the error of consumerism. -Having extra time in the summer without the Monday morning commitment greatly changes their value of assembling with other saints. Again, this has its roots in consumerism.
For the second group: -The value of education is more important than spiritual edification. -The value of temporary pursuits (many of which won't have significance after college life at the latest) trump spiritual ones.
In either case, we are stating that: -Desire, not principle is what guides my decisions. -The value of being under God's Word, interacting with other saints, and operating as Christ's Church are convenience oriented.
The concern is that we are creating a narrative that is unedifying, unrealistic, and not eternally centered for our family. I say it is unedifying as such decisions do not build up their faith or call them to grace. I say it is unrealistic as such a thought process will not be able to be applied to the other areas of their lives for the rest of their lives; it is unsustainable. I say it is not eternally centered because such decisions (and countless others we could discuss) demonstrate a "living for now...living for this life" mentality rather than treasuring God's realm with His desires for this life.
This article isn't about "being at church"; it is about the underlying thought process and life choices that happen to be manifested this time of year.
It's my desire to see our families do well in their fellowship with Christ and as His Church. With that said...I guess there is a third group...they've continued on faithfully. If we find ourselves in group one or two, let's make a change.
Serving with You,