I am not sure how many of us realize this but our brain is constantly taking in images, processing them and learning from them. In other words, every moment of every day is a teaching moment! As parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles we have a daunting task ahead of us if we want to teach children the values of the Christian tradition and to teach them to value it (the tradition) so that it might continue to shape our part of the world.
Recent studies of the global presence of the United Methodist Church shows that in the northern Hemisphere (especially North America and England) we are in decline and in some regions we are in sharp decline. Now contrast that with areas of the southern hemisphere like South America and Africa where the church is exploding with new disciples! If we want to stem the tide of decline I would suggest that it starts at home, with the family.
A couple of weeks ago Margaret and I found ourselves in St. George, Utah – it was a planned visit. Touring the town we went by the 135 year old Mormon temple and their visitor’s center. Having visited the newly constructed temple here in Kansas City and going through the tour there, I was interested to see if there was disparity in the message between temples and guides. The answer is “no.” It was the exact same message presented and spoken at both temples and I get the impression would be consistent across all of them. Now there is much about the Mormon religion that I disagree with, but there is one thing I wish I could figure how to capture and then unleash upon our community of faith. That one thing is their teaching and practice around the family.
From an outsiders perspective, they appear to place a great deal of value on the family. Not only as part of the community of faith but more importantly in the spiritual nurturing of the family and it’s practices at home. For Mormons the parents are the primary transmitters of the tradition and faith. It is there responsibility to teach, train, equip, edify, and reinforce the beliefs, values, and practices of the Mormon faith. I admire the outward appearance even though I cannot assess the actual effectiveness. I do know that the Mormon families that I lived among during my 3 years at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho certainly lived and moved to a different beat than anyone else I was around.
So think of it this way – if every moment of every day is a teaching moment, what is being poured into the brains of the children you know or are raising?
Statistically 65% of our community in the 64157 zip code are classified as New Suburbia’s by mosaic type. The basic family unit is a young married couple with small children, both working and trying to pay their first mortgage. They are also highly active with their children in multiple extracurricular activities. They are pouring a lot of resources as well as culture into their children but are these the values that will last them a life-time and help them fulfill their God-designed purpose?
As we think through our strategic plan for the next 3-5 years I am quickly coming around to the need for us to develop a solid, well-formatted, and exceptionally resourced family ministry that will empower all of us alike (parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, children’s and youth mentors and workers) to share the faith with the next generations. I am further convinced that this needs to be beyond the 25 minute lesson they receive on Sunday morning. We need to challenge ourselves to pour something different into the brains of our kids and that happens more at home than it does at church!
Now these are my thoughts and the leading of the Spirit that I am sensing. The question is – are you feeling the same thing? Are you worried or even mildly concerned about the values your kids are learning? Do you want your kids to keep up with the Kardashians and the Jersey Shore crowd? Or would you prefer a different reality for them – maybe one that is rooted in the life-giver named Jesus?
Maybe the first question is the one you ask yourself – do I even value the faith enough to let it shape my values and my everyday walking around life? So what’s being poured into your brain every moment of every day?
As always – thoughts, comments, and responses are welcome.
Blessings for the journey!