Al Mohler on families choosing other activities over church:
“In our survey 83 percent of pastors said they are aware of situations where people routinely choose family events over church commitments. The list of reasons people give for missing church events: kids’ activities and weekend trips are cited as most common reasons told to pastors (9 in 10 hear this frequently); grown-up sports such as fishing, football, and NASCAR are next, followed by extended family gatherings (7 in 10 hear these frequently), and a child’s illness (almost 6 in 10 hear this reason on a regular basis).”
Mohler’s comment: “Let’s be honest here — these families, for the most part, are not spending these additional hours of the week in joint spiritual activities and disciplines. It is not as though ‘family time’ was a time of biblical instruction and spiritual edification. No . . . increasingly it’s Little League and NASCAR.”
Another part of the study Mohler doesn’t want his readers to miss:
“Welker says the church isn’t helping by segregating families once they arrive on campus. “Shouldn’t we as a church try to bring families together?” Welker asks. “Instead what we do is bring them to church and then put mom and dad in this room, the high school kids in that room, and the elementary kids down the hall. It’s no wonder families are spending more time doing family things than they are spending at church.”
Holly Allen agrees. She is an intergenerational studies specialist at John Brown University. Despite recent interest in intergenerational church ministries, the trend of the past two or three decades has been toward age-graded ministries and the further stratification of generations. “In the past, spending family time and going to church were the same thing,” Allen said. “Now, family time and church time are not compatible ideas, because families are rarely together when they are at church.”
When “church time” is seen as a competitor to “family time,” something is wrong at church. When family members hardly see each other at church activities, the congregation needs to take a quick inventory of its concept of ministry.
At the same time, when Christian parents take their kids to Little League games rather than worship on the Lord’s Day, these parents teach their children that team sports are more important than the worship of God.
Every kid has a “thing” going on virtually all the time. That is the condition of life today, it seems. But when that “thing” keeps the child — or the whole family — away from church, we need to name that thing what it is . . . at best a snare, at worst an idol.”
It’s nice to know I’m not the only one calling this what it really is: “idolatry.”