by Will Peycke
In the “Growing Families” sermon two weeks ago, I made the case that family discipleship is important. Very important, in fact.
Because it is.
But that’s not the whole story.
The bottom line is that kids need both “family as church” and “church as family.” In other words, as vital and essential as family discipleship is, it isn’t everything. God has ordained parents to be the primary disciple-makers of their kids, not the only disciple-makers of their kids. Even the most committed parents need a community of secondary disciple-makers to partner with them in this work. To be spiritually healthy, we need our church family.
That’s not just true of family discipleship, by the way. That’s true for all of us.
There are a number of ways we could look at this, but I think this past year has given us a unique opportunity to evaluate our priorities and commitments. It has been almost a full year since everything ground to a sudden stop. Events were canceled, seasons suspended, classrooms emptied. Stop and think about it for a minute:
When so much in your life was suddenly put on hold last year, what moved into those empty blocks on your calendar?
As everything picked back up last summer and fall, which activities and commitments did you restart—and which ones did you leave out?
We can evaluate our commitments—who or what we are really devoted to, what we really love—in a number of different ways. For example, where we invest our time and money are good indicators of what we love. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21 ESV).
So here’s another question:
What does the way you are investing your “time” treasure right now say about your priorities?
For example, imagine hearing a friend say something like:
- “Education is a high priority in our family. We make sure our kids are in school at least one day a week.”
- “We are committed to this team, coach. I promise you we’ll make it to a few practices and at least half of the games.”
- “Staying physically fit is really important to me. I get in one or two workouts every month.”
I don’t know of any parents who decided their kids could drop out of school until the pandemic is over. The format may look different, but when something is important to us, we find a way to make it work.
In a similar way, youth sports have hardly missed a beat. There might be extra hoops to jump through, but for the most part, teams keep practicing and playing. If anything, sports (and school) take even more commitment now than they did a year ago.
So let me ask you:
What does your response to the pandemic say about your commitment to spiritual community?
Parents, do you believe your kids need spiritual training as much as (or more than) they need academic or athletic training?
If so, is the way you are prioritizing your activities and commitments right now consistent with that belief?
Here is another set of statements:
- “Our family is really busy, so we are going to cut back on our church involvement. We can only commit to being here once a month.”
- “Serving is important to me, but I don’t want to wear a mask. I’ll sit out until that requirement changes.”
- “Worshiping with my church family is important to me, but it’s less stressful to worship from home. Our family is going to do the livestream for now.”
If you are connecting virtually right now because you or someone you are caring for is in a high risk category, I get that. We look forward to seeing you “in person” again as soon as that is appropriate. In the meantime, we are glad to help you stay connected in other ways.
To the rest of us, my appeal is simple: don’t unplug from the church. You can’t do the Christian life on your own. You can't do the “one anothers” without others around you. Your soul needs the weekly rhythms of corporate worship and fellowship.
A Christian school, homeschool coop, sports team, neighborhood, even your family—as valuable as those relationships and communities are, they cannot be the church. If you are using another form of community as a substitute for the church, you are missing out on being part of the body. Plus, the body is missing you.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
(Hebrews 10:23-25, ESV)
You need the church. The church needs you.
See you next Sunday?