I was reading Barna research today. You can see the article here.
They have done their homework and found that 73% of us Americans identify as Chistians. Woo Hoo, let's celebrate! That means 3 out of every 4 people in American are professing to follow the commands of Jesus. Never mind that most of us can turn on the evening news or look at our newspaper and readily see that 3 out of 4 people are certainly not following the commands of Jesus.
73%. That's a lot. Even if that many people were simply trying to be like Christ, we would have a pretty good thing going on.
Oh....wait a minute....
Barna doesn't stop with asking people what they profess to believe. They ask them how they are practicing their professed beliefs. So Barna defines a 'practicing Christian' as someone who identifies as a Christian and attends a church service at least once a month.
Once a month?!? The rant you are about to read is not against Barna. They have to set the standard somewhere, but can we all agree that if people who say they love Jesus are only able to drag themselves to a community meeting of Jesus-followers once every four weeks, then we are clearly not expecting much? And certainly not enough??
We, as Christian adults, are expecting children to grow up and live out the principles taught in the Bible. How are they supposed to do that when they have only been to church once a month?
By the way, when Barna factors in the once-a-month attendance, the number of practicing Christians in America drops to 31%. Does that sound a bit more like the America you know?
So parents, I don't mean to sound harsh, but kids can't drive themselves to church. They don't dictate the family calendar. But they can rise up to match our expectations. My children haven't complained about going to church in years. They know it's expected. And if you're muttering to yourself that pastor's kids would obviously have no choice, let me tell you that my good habits were instilled in me by my parents, neither of whom were pastors. (By the way, thanks Mom and Dad!)
We can't expect to train up a child in the way they should go by exposing them to training once a month.
I'm not sure I want to even know how low the percentage would get if we knew how many professing Christians were attending every week? So parents, what can you do?
1. Make church attendance, as a family, a priority.Lionel Richie told us this would be easy like Sunday morning. Anyone who has a kid knows that Lionel Richie wasn't talking about wrangling kids in the car to go to church. But make it a habit. You get them to school, sports, dance and a few meals every day. Just make this a priority.
Most likely there is a church in your area with some sort of kid's club. Get them there! They'll have fun with other kids and receive training they'll need later in life to defend their faith.
2. Schedule something during the week for the kids.
3. Talk about it at least twice a week during a meal.I know, this means making sure you have meals together. That's another good habit. But take time to read a verse or two and discuss how it applies to your family.
Some of these things may be small things, but they will add up to big things in your family's life. And it's a pretty good percentage chance that it will all be for the better.