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While I don’t want to be negative about the future of the church, I just have to look around at the rate at which we are losing our kids and then just keep making resolutions about doing all I can to awaken parents. While traveling down the road on the Lord’s Day and contemplating the need to get moms and dads to see the urgency of godly parenting, I stopped in to a congregation of His people. It was a Sunday night and the congregation I had visited earlier in the day was blessed to hear Brad Harrub speak on the family, so I had family on my mind. I sat near the back behind a father and his two young sons, one about 12 years old and the other, perhaps sixteen. The sixteen-year old was accompanied by his girlfriend. The youngest son had on a t-shirt advertising a beachside bar, the father wore an expensive, leather decorated fishing shirt, and the older son and girlfriend were nicely, albeit casually dressed.
The lesson was taken from the early part of Revelation, specifically having to do with the church at Laodicea in chapter three. It was about the danger of becoming lukewarm. The young preacher described the wealth of the community in which we were worshipping, the ease with which the families in the church there daily lived and the danger of becoming absorbed in material things, while becoming nonchalant about spiritual things and about the sacrifice of Calvary. As he did, all of these three young people played on their individual cell phones. He talked about the people who were uninterested in the things of scripture and how the Lord wanted to spew them from His mouth. Even as he spoke imploringly about this, they showed each other their incoming texts and they laughed at messages appearing on each other’s phones. Occasionally they would involve Dad in the fun, as well. From my vantage point, it was hard to listen. I sincerely hoped they were community visitors. But they were not.
One little girl walked forward during the invitation song and asked to be baptized into Christ. It was a moment of rejoicing and I noticed the father in front of me moving toward the aisle, as well. His younger son looked at him questioningly and he explained that he needed to go help with the baptism. He saw that several of the men had already gone behind the baptistery, so he decided it would not be necessary for him to go. Then the older son and the girlfriend exited out the back door while the song before the baptism was being sung.
Now I know that I am not omniscient, but some things seemed apparent to me:
- This father wore the name of Christ, since he had been assigned the task of working in the baptismal room.
- These folks were affluent people since all four of them were dressed nicely and had cell phones.
- These children were not the least bit interested in the worship service.
- This father was oblivious to the need for them to pay attention to the lesson about overcoming a lukewarm mentality.
I know I could possibly be mistaken in my assumptions. Perhaps this father was doing the best he knew. Maybe he was a new Christian. Maybe his wife had left him with these young sons to rear alone. After all, she wasn’t there. But, whether or not this is true, I know that, all too often, parents in churches across our land are living a message of materialism in front of our children that is louder and clearer than any message about spirituality that may be heralded from our pulpits or in our classrooms. When we accept half-hearted worship, allow our kids to enter and exit the auditorium at will, and smack gum during the song service, we shout our own disinterest. When we can get “majorly” worked up at a ballgame, but give a yawning nod to the sermon and check our messages two or three times during the service, we convey other messages to our kids about priorities.
I don’t know exactly why I need to get this “off my chest.” I realize that those who are reading this are mostly moms and grand-moms who are very serious about bringing up children for the Lord. In this sense I am “preaching to the choir.” But something inside me just feels so sorry for the children. So many are “poor little rich kids.” They have everything money can buy, but they are spiritually destitute. And the longer they go through the formative, growing years without spiritual nourishment, the more dull they will become to their hunger for the Word. They will be affluent. They will be “with-it.” They may even be community movers and shakers. But they will be lost.
The message from the pulpit that night was exactly what those kids in front of me needed to hear. But the cell phone messages were more interesting, the messages in chatter were more compelling and the message of indifference from Dad was overwhelming. May we, as parents, not get in the way of transmission of the most important message our kids can hear.