How many of your Sundays look like this?
You show up, and parking lot attendants greet you. Faithful teachers instruct you. Ushers find a seat for you. A well-practiced worship band leads singing for you. Your pastor preaches a faithful, God-glorifying sermon to you. Childcare workers care for your children. And after all that, you pick up your kids and simply return home.
“But, but, Jesus wants me to live my best life now.” I joke, but deep down I wonder if I sometimes believe it. Great piece from Things We Didn’t Know – about life & missions entitled “This Is America“.
If sermons in your church sound more like self-help, living your best life (“for Jesus” of course), or simply marital and family advice, then you need to be asking yourself some serious questions about what you are being taught. Jesus warns in Mark that many will come to deceive in the name of religion. They will say all the “right” things, dress in all the “right” ways, know the popular prayers and sayings and topics of the times, and they will be leading you astray from the path to Jesus. Guys, Jesus never promised a “better life” here on earth. Following Him is costly, dangerous, painful, lonely, unpopular, counter-cultural. And did I mention that it’s also worth it? *don’t quit yet, I promise I will get there.
11 years into marriage, it is easy for me to forget that I wasn’t married until I was 25 years old. What I’ll never forget though were the years in-between high school graduation and marriage. The churches I was a part of did not know how to handle those who were single. Nathan Marchand, whose book I reviewed sometime back, touches on this “single limbo time” period in his piece titled “Double-Minded: Christian Culture’s Diametrically-Opposed Views of Marriage and Singleness“.
What the church needs is consistency. Celebrate marriage with everyone. Help singles maximize their lives where they are and don’t shame them for desiring a spouse. For those rare few who’ve been called to singleness, give them opportunities not afforded to married people. Modes of service don’t decrease with marriage—they just change.
Marriage is hard, but so is singleness. (you can read more in the link above)
Churches, that I have been a part of, have been structured like this:
- Middle School / High School
- College (which is often a thrown together class)
- AND THEN Adult General Population (Big Church)
We go from structure-structure-structure to nothing. I agree with Nathan, I think that we, as Christians, could be doing better. Speaking into the single years instead of letting culture show how it is to be done. By opening up our homes, speaking truth/being real (remembering those hard years), and being intentional with singles ministry (not throwing rando-Bob to deal with this area), we might have a chance. The Apostle Paul said that singleness is a gift and so is marriage.
Read a quote this morning that was a bit convicting:
Lead family worship It doesn’t need to be extravagant or long or particularly deep. But it does need to be consistent and it does need to be led by you. Set a time, sing some Psalms, read a Bible passage, ask each kid a question about the passage, and then pray together. Even if this wasn’t the Biblical pattern for Christian families, could you give me a decent argument why it’s a waste of time or unnecessary? – Read more here
Leading family worship has long been a struggle for me. One of those areas where I could easily lay blame on it not being modeled growing up–my parents did the best they could–. But at some point, I’ve learned, one has to forgive their parents and accept responsibility for what one is doing with their own family.
So what am I doing to lead my family spiritually? / How can I take the lead?
How are you leading your family spiritually? / How can you take the lead?
Away from the lights and fellow believers at church, in our homes, how are we leading?
I’m not sure what a family worship time looks like for my family. I can’t imagine us all sitting around singing songs. Sure, we’ve tried a few things in the past. When Wyatt was younger, we’d read Jesus Calling and pray before bed. More recently, we’d sit down and read scripture/pray in the evening. Consistency has always been my enemy. Kind of like with a personal quiet time. An evening would pop up that was out of our regular schedule and the first thing that would end up going were family devotions.
Jon Acuff, in his book Finish, talks about the day after perfect; the day after everything hasn’t gone 100% well. He asks what you will do after that day? Will you accept defeat or continue on?
I know personally that I often complicate things. Simple can be my enemy. And yet simple has to be the starting place for leading family worship. The simple acts of:
- Taking/scheduling time for the family to sit down
- Opening the Bible
- Reading the Bible
I know that these are all things that I can do. I simply choose not to make them important nor do them.
It’s time to change that. Let’s consider this the day the family worship vehicle was put into gear.
I wrote this piece back in 2014. Four years later, I still do not think that this is healthy situation, no matter the hobby. – Bryan
This tale is as old as 1989.
Boy meets girl. Girl dislikes boys hobby. Boy gives up hobby for girl. Girl gives up nothing. Swap the genders; swap the roles. Rinse. Wash. Dry.
I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love, to be in love.
I just don’t get it. If you are in a loving relationship, your spouse or girlfriend should accept you for who you are. They shouldn’t be out to change fundamental parts that make up you. Sure, your bad habit of tossing clothes on the floor may need to be corrected, because let’s face it, your mom always cleaned up after you. Too personal? Sorry.
Video games are often seen as a less mature hobby than following a team of guys in tight fitting clothing. Huh? How is it that working on cars, following a sports team, or going hunting are somehow more respectable and less “little boy”? A hobby is a hobby. Video games are no worse than stamp collecting. Except that unlike a stamp collection, video games deal with:
- Complex realities
- Connecting players through interdependent activities
- Challenging players with complex decision making
My wife has been accepting of my hobby from the get go. She encourages me to sit down and play games. She realizes that I often use video games to de-stress. As long as I am not playing World of Warcraft (the marriage killer), I’m golden. This does not mean that I play games every day of the week. Gaming for me, married, with a kid, looks more like a couple of hours a week. Some nights, my wife even joins me. I’ve always appreciated that about her. She loves me for who I am.
I am tired of those around me feeling guilt, having to change, just to conform to the person they love. If you are in a loving healthy relationship, your significant other will understand the healthy hobbies you chose to pursue.
Note: My friend Scott reminds me that the picture I painted above is painted by an individual who is loving, mature, and self-controlled–most of the time. Video games, as with any hobby, can be distorted and abused in the hands of an undisciplined individual. In order not to feed into the video game stigma your wife/girlfriend might view the hobby through, Scott suggests setting some ground rules:
- Be mindful of your wife/girlfriend, even though the game demands attention.
- Always be ready to pause. Pretty much everything is more important than your next in-game checkpoint, so put the controller down if you need to.
- Tell her how long you intend to play – and stick to the plan.
No matter the hobby, communication and respect are foundational to building healthy relationships. I want to encourage you to let go of any video game guilt you might carry, set some healthy ground rules, and game on.
My chest hurts today. I’m not sure why. All I know is that it feels like someone is sitting on me. Someone large; Someone heavy.
I read this morning that:
God is working right now, but not so much to give us predictable, comfortable, and pleasurable lives. He isn’t so much working to transform our circumstances as he is working through hard circumstances to transform you and me. Perhaps in hard moments, when we are tempted to wonder where God’s grace is, it is grace that we are getting, but not grace in the form of a soft pillow or a cool drink. Rather, in those moments, we are being blessed with the heart-transforming grace of difficulty because the God who loves us knows that this is exactly the grace that we need.
God knows what I need. Even if it’s not the cool drink of peace that I desire.
Sunday mornings you get dressed, eat breakfast, and then head out the door to church. Upon arriving, you check your children into their designated areas. Ah, free childcare!
Navigating halls filled with the smell of fresh brewed coffee, you make your way to your small group. Greet friends. Swap stories. Enjoy a quick Bible lesson before heading off to the main service.
Everyone wants to be served and no one wants to serve. This model of the Body of Christ is broken. Prone to burning out volunteers who become stuck in their volunteer roles, for years. No escape. No growth. All due to someone else not heeding the call, that slight Spirit tug, to be the hands and feet of Christ to the church.
Dejected and depressed, these burned-out volunteers fuel our churches. Under the impression that if they do not serve, no one else will. This is a lie.
God calls every Christian to serve in various areas for a season. Seasons change, just look outside the window. The Bible talks about there being an occasion for everything (read Ecclesiastes 3).
I want to challenge those that feel stuck volunteering in the church to stop. Take a step back. Examine where you are on your faith journey, where God is calling you. The Body of Christ cannot function in selfishness. Give another brother or sister in Christ a chance to serve His people. Allow God to help them grow through service; Allow God to help you grow in freedom.